Try These Four Steps to Have a Perfect 4th

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Holidays can be a lot of work but if you concentrate on these four simple steps, you’ll be ready for a perfect 4th in no time!

Remembering…playing…and eating…all while looking good!  It’s an easy four steps that you already do but this year let’s co-ordinate it a little bit.  You all know I love the idea of theming, so choose an appropriate Fourth of July theme and carry it out throughout your decorations, the menu, the fun and the memories.

So, what might appropriate themes be?  How about the Statue of Liberty?  We are talking about “independence” aren’t we?  Maybe the stars and stripes is more up your alley?  How about fireworks?  Just stars?  Red, white and blue?  Maybe it’s simply the number “4”.  Well, let’s take one of them, “stars” for instance and run with it to give you an example.

Remember:

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Let’s begin with a little refresher about the meaning behind the holiday.  We celebrate because our American forefathers were brave people who had uprooted their lives and their families and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to find a land where they could have freedom. Through their efforts, opinions, hopes and desires, a country was being born.

“The vote for the United States to become independent of Great Britain actually occurred on July 2, 1776 by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Congress formally approved the document, the “Declaration of Independence” on July 4, 1776.

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Even though it seems like a long time ago, if you put it into the perspective that a general lifetime was only about 60 years, those 232 years since 1776 are less than 4 life spans away from our present day.

We, as recipients and inheritors of their magnificent efforts, must hold our heads up high as we express our thanks and jubilation on the 4th of July. Independence Day holiday celebrations are truly meant to acknowledge that we live in a great country.  Because of this we should be encouraged to work together, hand in hand, to resolve our problems and differences in order to maintain the integrity and values that the great and famous document, the Declaration of Independence was founded upon.

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… as we enjoy celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day holiday with the magnificent fireworks, tasty barbecues, traditional hot dogs, fun parades and other symbolic events that mark the freedom and birth of our great country, we share a common goal and belief that all people are created equal and that this country is founded on the belief of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.”
These words were taken from a very helpful website:

Celebrate-the-4th-of-July-Holiday-With-Meaning 

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It just might be a nice idea to visit a local veteran’s cemetery and pay your respects to those that have served and given their lives so that our families might be free.  I know many of us remember at Memorial Day, but our founding fathers went through the same struggles as they were creating a new country and they too should be honored for their sacrifices.

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So, back to our holiday theme of “stars”! Were there any stars around 1776?  Sure there were.  What about the man pictured here?  He’s Patrick Henry and he has a very famous quote, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

We can’t forget our five founding fathers; George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  And how about Betsy Ross?  We could certainly print photos of them and paste them on large star backgrounds and teach our kids who they were and what they did to help us celebrate this day.

Make a game out of it and see if the adults know who each “Hero in History” is!

Play:

Well, we just got started with a game of “Hero in History”, but I’m sure our families are so smart that the hero game won’t last too long!  Keep in mind, small surprises for getting the answers right might be some incentive to actually play the game!!

Generally, water plays a big part in many of our celebrations, so if you are lucky enough to be near a lake, ocean, river or even a pool, let the volleyball, Marco Polo, and simply “floating to cool off” games begin!

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My kids have always enjoyed a treasure hunt.  I’m famous for writing clues, drawing maps and giving great prizes.  (Often we use movie gift cards because they do get everyone involved!)  For the 4th, using “stars” as our theme, I would cut star shapes out of red, white and blue paper in all different sizes and hide them all over the yard or in the house if the weather isn’t cooperating.  If the sizes are different, larger stars could be worth more points so that finding the most isn’t the challenge.  Sometimes finding the most can cause a bit more rough housing than I like as treasure hunters push others out of the way to gather more treasure!  Notice that I used star shaped cookie cutters to cut out my stars.  This makes it easy for tracing and the kids can cut the stars out while you work on the menu!

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You might consider planning ahead and making one of Matt’s Bean Bag Toss games for the big day.  It’s a lot of fun for both kids and adults, and to keep with your “stars” theme, you could sew your bean bags out of star printed fabrics!

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Growing up, there were a couple of favorite 4th of July yard games that my family played.  We loved to set up the badminton net which was used all day long as well as setting up a croquet course.  The adults usually set up the croquet so we didn’t bend up the wickets, hit each other with the mallets or send the balls careening into the neighbor’s yard!  Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about ‘cause we all did it!

Now, stars may not be an obvious part of either of these games, or some others that you might play, but there are always “stars” at the end of the games, right?  Take photos and add them to your heroes in history wall, then make the winners wear a goofy hat or glasses so those that didn’t win the game can get some sort of revenge!

For those guests that aren’t as physical, why not bring out the board games or a deck of cards?  I LOVE to play games but rarely get the opportunity since work, laundry, cleaning, etc. always seem to get in the way!

Eat:
Yes, I know, you’ve been waiting for this, right?  Everyone thinks food on the 4th before they think anything else.  But that’s OK, it just means that we’ve created a great tradition of fun summer foods for this particular holiday!

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I don’t even know if I want to tread on everyone’s traditional 4th of July fare, but I will pass on some suggestions since we are talking about a “stars” theme.  I immediately go back to those super cool star cookie cutters I have.  I would definitely make brownies or cookies with the cutters and have star shaped desserts!

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Bread can be cut into star shapes like you see here in these tasty looking toasted sandwiches. We’ve all seen star shapes in fruit and veggies…. hmm could you press your burgers into the shape of stars?  I’ll bet you could!

Appetizers and desserts are probably your best bet for altering the shape of things, and might I add that stars are probably the easiest.  Can you imagine trying to cut a ham sandwich in the shape of the statue of liberty?

Well, if theming your food doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t matter, as long as you have all those recipes available to bring a sense of tradition to your celebration.  Is it the deviled eggs or your grandmother’s special fried chicken?  Maybe it’s making your own ice cream on the 4th that brings everyone together.  Cookies ready to be frosted can give the kids something to do for the afternoon, or maybe you just get everyone involved in husking the corn on the cob.  Ah, it all sounds wonderful doesn’t it?  It’s amazing the profound effect food can have on us!

Looking Good:

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Looking good is the best part of the preparation as far as I’m concerned.  I like coming up with new ideas every year that really bring the theme to life. I concentrate most of my efforts at the food table since everyone else concentrates there as well!  In keeping with the “stars” motif, I have some metal star ornaments that I have used on my Christmas tree, but have found that I can use them almost all year long!  I simply insert a paper or cloth napkin in the metal wire that is the hanger, and they look great at the 4th of July table!

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Looks like this gal had some fun making napkin rings for the big day too!  I imagine these are simple construction paper rings and stars with some glitter glue used along the edges.  Red paper napkins finish the look, and who could be prouder of their work?

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A red, white and blue centerpiece is almost a must!  This one with red carnations, flags and blue star accessories really fits our theme and gives the table a punch of holiday color!

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And don’t discount simple paper plates decorated with stars and stripes to help bring a theme together.  I prefer these for my holiday gathering because I really don’t want to spend any more time cleaning up the kitchen than is necessary on this day.  I want to be outside having fun too!!

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With the table in shape it’s time to turn the attention to the front door.  It’s always a good idea to greet your family and friends at the front of your home with some sort of holiday decoration like a wreath, flag or banner of some sort.  I found this wreath while surfing the internet and it is made with a Styrofoam ring and holiday appropriate ribbons pinned all around it.  LOVE IT!

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So that pretty much finishes our “star studded”, 4 step, perfect 4th of July!  I hope this year’s celebration goes well for you and that by the time the fireworks fly you can relax and enjoy knowing you “pulled off” another wonderful holiday!

Shari

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