It seems as though we just finished celebrating New Year’s Eve, and yet here we are, at the mid-point of the year already. And with the start of the second half of the year comes the anticipation of the 4th of July celebrations that typically involves a mix of good food, great friends, and a grand display of fireworks.
Unless you’re a guest at someone else’s 4th of July get together, you’ll likely be hosting one of your own. If that’s the case, now’s the time to start gathering your arsenal of goodies to make sure your party is a memorable one for you and your guests.
To help you get things started, here is a list of must-have food and gadgets that will help you celebrate the 4th of July in style.
You can’t have a party without great food, and 4th of July parties are usually filled with a number of classics that these celebrations simply can’t be without. Here are a few menu ideas to incorporate into your festivities.
Parties are all about snacky foods, and chip-and-dip dishes make the ideal treat to satisfy everyone’s palates and keep everyone satiated all day long. A layer dip is a classic at parties, and you can make your own by following this recipe:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 2 chopped plum tomatoes
- 1 can chopped green chiles
- 1 can refried beans
- 1 diced avocado
- 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- Salt and ground pepper to taste
Mix the beans, lime juice, and water together in a bowl, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the mixture to a serving dish, then add layers of the sour cream, cheddar, tomatoes, chiles, avocado, and lettuce.
Who doesn’t love a little guac with their tortilla chips? Sure, you can buy it, but why not make it yourself for a fresher, tastier version? Here’s a simple recipe to help you make this party staple:
- 6 pitted, and peeled avocados
- 1/4 cup of minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons of lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
If you want a little more texture and a little nutty flavor to your guacamole, consider adding 1 cup of chopped pistachio nuts into the mix. Just mash up all the ingredients together, and you’re ready to go!
A classic Italian side dish, bruschetta can be served at your 4th of July celebrations and be met with excitement among your guests.
- 3 cups diced tomatoes
- 10 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Fresh thyme
- Sliced Italian bread, toasted
Season the tomatoes with the oil, salt, and fresh thyme. Toast the sliced bread, and spread each slice with the goat cheese. Add the tomato mix on top, and enjoy!
For the main course, you can’t go wrong with something grilled. And when it comes to American fare, burgers are where it’s at.
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/4 cup mustard
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 slices Swiss cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces chopped mushrooms of your choice
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Burger buns
Shape the ground beef into burgers, then season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the mustard and soy sauce. Grill the burgers over medium-high heat about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, basting them with the mustard and soy sauce mixture. Just before you take the burgers off the grill, add the Swiss cheese.
In a large skillet, saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and fresh thyme and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the burgers on the buns with the mushroom mix added over top.
You’ve got your burgers and your dips, but a nice salad would be a great way to round off your plate.
- 8 cooked and diced potatoes
- 2 sliced celery
- 1 cup minced white onion
- 5 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Once the potatoes have been boiled and cooled, dice them and place them in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then add them to the bowl of potatoes. Add the celery, onions, and eggs, and mix thoroughly.
Star Spangled Banner Cake
You’ve got to tempt your sweet tooth at a party, and there’s no better way to do that while appealing to the visual senses and adding a little pinch of patriotism than with a cake that mimics the American flag.
- Traditional white cake mix
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese
- 1 pound icing sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup raspberries
To make this easier for you, simply use a white cake mix that you can get from the grocery store and bake as suggested. You can also choose a vanilla or angel food cake mix instead, as long as the color is white (or close to it).
For the icing, mix the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then spread most of it on top of the cake (make sure the cake is cooled first).
Make an outline of the flag on top of the icing using a toothpick or fork, then fill it in appropriately, using the remainder of the icing mix, blueberries, and raspberries until you’ve created the perfect US flag. Apply the stripes of icing with a pastry bag (or even a Ziploc bag with the corner cut out) to ensure seamless stripes.
Tools & Gadgets
Now that you’ve got your menu all prepped and ready to go, you’re going to need a bunch of other things to make your party complete. Here are a few gadgets that will make your 4th of July get together much more convenient, festive, and fun.
Watermelon keg kit – Add your favorite spirit to a watermelon, plug in a faucet right into the skin of the fruit, and draw out a savory beverage to quench your thirst.
Patriotic light show – You’ve probably seen Christmas holiday light projectors over the holidays. Well, you can get these light displays for just about every other occasion and holiday, including the 4th of July. These projectors put on a sparkling display of the American colors to help keep your party’s decor as festive and patriotic as can be.
Inflatable cooler with the American flag – You’ll likely have a cooler or two to keep all your beverages chilled, so why not use one that’s got the American flag plastered all over it?
Flag spatulas – Flip your mushroom cheeseburgers with a spatula featuring none other than the American flag.
Life-size American eagle pool floatie – If you’ve got a pool, it will likely be the center of the party. In that case, give your guests something patriotic to float on with a massive rideable American flag and bald eagle floatie.
Floating cooler – Not only will guests be lounging in your pool (if you’ve got one), they’ll also expect to be served, too. They can easily keep their thirsts quenched with a floating cooler that keeps drinks chilled and always within reach.
Mobile party fridge – Bring the fridge directly to your guests with a mobile refrigerator that holds cans, beer bottles, and wine bottles, and well as cups and bottle openers.
Portable music dock station – You’ve got to get the tunes playing at your party, right? And it’s highly likely that you’ve got a playlist on your smartphone ready to rock out to on the 4th of July. Having a portable music docking station to move about can give you the ultimate in convenience whenever the need to raise the volume or change tracks arises.
With these menu items and gadgets on hand, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful 4th of July party that everyone on the block will want to get an invitation to. Get your inventory together, send out your invites, and get ready to celebrate the 4th of July at the best party you’ve ever thrown!