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Fourth of July Outdoor BBQ Party

Host a Fourth of July Outdoor Barbeque Party to celebrate Independence Day, and have fun with family and friends!  July 4th is a fun holiday for a party, because most people don’t have iron-clad traditions they have to follow from year to year (other than fun and fireworks).  That leaves the door wide open to all kinds activities, menus, and excitement during your 4th of July BBQ.  Here’s how to plan your party.

Invitations that Sparkle

You can easily set the party mood from the beginning with your invitations.  Here are a couple of ideas:


Use red or blue construction paper.  Use a glue pen to draw fireworks starbursts around the edge of the paper.  Then, shake red, blue, and silver glitter over the glue.  In the center area, write the details of the event.

“Get out the Grill” Invitation

Make a fun invitation with construction paper cut to look like a hamburger.  You’ll need paper for the two halves of the “bun” and for the “hamburger.”  You might also want to add a lighter green piece of “lettuce” so that it is easy to write the information about the party.  Make the top “bun” half open up to reveal the hamburger and lettuce, with the party details on it.

Time and Date

You’re probably going to want to host your barbeque right ON July 4th.  We’d recommend starting it at about 4:00, so you have time for some games, activities, and cooking before it is dark.  Starting in late afternoon lets you (and young kids) have plenty of party time, without getting too exhausted before fireworks.

Patriotic Party Decorations

You will definitely want to have patriotic, American Flag paper goods.  That is one EASY way to dress up your party, and carry the holiday theme through!  Here are some other decorations:

  • Crepe paper: this makes every party festive
  • Red, white and blue bunting: hang this on porch railings and fences
  • Balloons: also put the “fun” in “function”
  • Anything shiny and Mylar-balloons, cutouts, etc.
  • Fly the American Flag somewhere near the party, or on your front porch.


Just because you can set off your own fireworks, doesn’t mean that you should. Fireworks are pretty dangerous.  If you live near enough to a fireworks show, you can tell guests they’ll be able to view from your yard.  Or, if you have neighbors who routinely set off fireworks, prepare to enjoy theirs.  Otherwise, stick to sparklers, and keep a close eye and a bucket of water near them.

Best Barbecue Food

As “American as Apple Pie,” is what people say about barbecue.  So, make your July 4th party a cookout!  Depending upon where you live, regional specialties will prevail.  Up in Maine, fresh spring peas are always on the menu, while in Texas, a dry-rub rack of ribs is more likely on the serving table.  Here are some ideas for cookout food that everyone loves.  You can also find more Fourth of July Fun Foods here.


  • Soda (individual cans are easiest to ice down)
  • Iced tea and lemonade  (a trick from the south: to make sweet tea, put the sugar in while the tea is still HOT)
  • Beer (American Brands-Yuengling, Bud Light, Fat Tire, etc.)
  • Water (always have plenty of water on hand on a hot day)
  • Fireworks spritzer  (In a clear glass, mix ice, sprite, grenadine, and some blueberries)


No party is complete without dessert! With strawberries, blueberries, and cool whip, you can make almost anything look like a flag! Here are some fun cookout desserts:

  • Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches: make chocolate chip cookies a couple of days before the party, and then put vanilla or chocolate ice cream in between.  Wrap each sandwich in foil, and freeze for two days.
  • Brownies:  Everyone loves brownies.
  • Homemade strawberry ice cream:  If you can find or borrow a hand-crank ice cream maker, this is a fun activity, and dessert.  I swear, the ice cream tastes better after you’ve worked so hard to make it.
  • Apple Pie pockets:  to take a short cut, buy some apple pie filling, and roll-out pie crusts from the refrigerated section.  Then, just make mini-pies and bake until the crust is golden.
  • S’mores: you can toast these over the grill after your finished grilling the meat.

Side Dishes

  • Potato salad
  • Macaroni salad
  • Veggie tray
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Broccoli salad:  chop up broccoli VERY finely, and mix with frozen or fresh peas, chopped onions, raisins, a bit of mayo, and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Chips and homemade salsa
  • Grilled corn on the cob

If you serve a mixture of those foods, you’ll have enough healthy choices to satisfy the moms, and things for picky eaters.

Main Dishes

The centerpiece of a barbeque is, well, the barbeque!  You can go an any number of directions with this, but serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled portabella mushrooms gives everyone a “main dish” to enjoy.  We like to provide onion pockets or onion buns, in addition to regular buns.  Punches up the flavor.

Here’s Katie’s Crowd Pleaser Hamburger Recipe:

Mix 2 lbs of grass fed ground beef with 2 eggs, 1 onion diced finely, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt. (Grass fed beef, because we don’t think factory-farmed meat is very patriotic.)

Form into 8 quarter pound patties of even thickness and size.


Party Playlist for Patriotic Parties

No party is complete without tunes.  Here’s what to put on your party playlist.  (We’ve included a mix of summer fun songs, and patriotic music.)

  • Sousa marches:  Stars and Stripes Forever, Washington Post, The Thunderer
  • 1812 Overture (which has nothing to do with July 4th, other than people love it, and it has cannon fire!)
  • America by Neil Diamond
  • Only in America  by Brooks and Dunn
  • Rodeo and Appalachian Spring  (by Aaron Copeland)
  • Beach Boys
  • National Anthem (The Star Spangled Banner)  & America the Beautiful
  • Proud to be an American

Party Activities

Capture the fun and innocent era of times gone by with these fun yard games:

  • Capture the flag
  • Ring toss
  • Three-legged race
  • Flag relay race
  • Bobbing for apples
  • Corn hole
  • Water balloon toss