CAPTION:  Independence Day-inspired cupcakes are a fun addition to a Fourth of July party. ATTRIBUTION: Photo by Ginny (Flickr)

Independence Day-inspired cupcakes are a fun addition to a Fourth of July party. ATTRIBUTION: Photo by Ginny (Flickr)

Each year, the Fourth of July brings flocks of people together to celebrate the birth of the United States as an independent nation. Independence Day festivities are often immersed in family barbecues, entertaining games, and plenty of delicious food and drink. If you’re organizing a July Fourth shindig, read on to ensure that you’re properly prepared for your backyard bash.

Make Arrangements

When planning a party, it’s crucial to give yourself plenty of time to prepare and make the necessary arrangements. Begin by setting a solid date and time for the party, preferably on Fourth of July weekend when most guests are off from work and available to attend. Next, create a guest list of desired attendees to get a general idea of how much food you will need to make.

Get the Word Out

Buy or print invitations to send out to guests. Be sure that the invites arrive no later than three weeks prior to the party date. Include all of the important information in your invites, including the date, time, and location of the party and whether or not meals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages will be served. If swimming is an option, ask guests to bring their swimsuit on the day of the party.

Purchase or Make Dor

There’s no need to get fancy with your Fourth of July dor. There are numerous ways to achieve a classy yet economical party atmosphere. Opt for simple red, white, and blue banners attached to the exterior of the house or hung on tree limbs. Head over to the dollar store and purchase coordinating red, white, and blue balloons. Not everything needs to be star-spangled: A solid blue tablecloth, red napkins, and white plastic cutlery will do in a pinch.

Create a Menu

While catering is always your best bet for a fast, people-pleasing menu, you can create your own dishes and desserts with some planning ahead. Buy some hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, sausages, and/or chicken to throw on the grill. For sides, consider baked beans, salads, chips, and grilled veggies. Presentation is key when it comes to food. Dazzle your guests with patriotic fare, such as red, white, and blue cupcakes or biscuits in the shape of stars.

Schedule Games or Activities

While there’s sure to be plenty of eating and socializing going on at your party, it’s best to have some games and activities in the mix to keep things interesting. If kids will be attending, consider having a poolside party with water toys. Games can be simple but fun for kids of all ages, such as a bean-bag toss, balloon-popping game, or a pin-the-stripes-on-the-flag game. If your budget allows for it, hire outside entertainment, such as a musical performer or face-painter, or rent a bounce house. Be sure to end the night in style with a small fireworks display or even some sparklers you can hand out to guests, if local law allows.