Master Fourth of July With These Make-Ahead Party Tips
We're helping you enjoy your own party this year.
July has really snuck up on me this year. But to be honest, I’m okay with that since it means I get to celebrate the Fourth of July in only a matter of days! My family goes crazy for the Fourth. We’re talking a collaborated family party with all our friends and family complete with tasty foods, refreshing summer sips and of course, a spectacular fireworks display. This year, I’ve decided to get ahead of the game by planning some important things I can do ahead of time in order to have more time on party day to relax and enjoy the day. Hopefully you can do the same!
Fourth of July Burgers
No Fourth of July party is complete without burgers. Serve bite-sized sliders in lieu of large sandwiches so guests have plenty of room to eat all the other delicious food.
Cheyenne Mojica Photography
Certain things, like grilling your burgers, will need to be done at the party, but there are some ways to get a head start. For everybody’s favorite main course, go ahead and mix up your hamburger (and bacon!) and form the patties. Then add your dry ingredients just before grilling for the most perfect, moist burgers.
Pro Tip: Wait until just before grilling to add salt to your burger, and only add it to the outside. Salt can actually break down and dissolve muscle proteins, resulting in a very dry, tough burger (And nobody wants that, right?).
Make This: Bacon Burger
Rustic Utensil Display
No Fourth of July party is complete without burgers. Serve bite-sized sliders in lieu of large sandwiches so guests have plenty of room to eat all the other delicious food available. Try our bacon beef burger recipe>>
Ring Toss Sign
Challenge guests of all ages to a game of ring toss. Everyone will be excited for a throwback to childhood. Download our free Americana-themed printables, and make your own ring toss game with our easy instructions.
Don’t forget about the scrumptious sides. These tasty fruit skewers can be assembled the night before and refrigerated until the party. For an extra delicious twist, try tossing them on the grill and adding a ricotta cheese or yogurt dip.
Make This: Grilled Fruit Skewers
Tomato Burrata Crostini
The flavor and juice from the heirloom tomatoes combined with the cheese and toast create a flavorful bite-sized treat that's easy to eat. Plus, they will add color to your party other than the traditional red, white and blue. Get the recipe>>
Patriotic Panna Cotta Shooters
Panna cotta shooters will surely cool you and your Fourth of July guests off. Give the shooters an American-inspired spin by layering them in red, white and blue. Get the recipe>>
Your guests will appreciate a refreshing frozen treat during the heat of the day. Give this clementine sorbet the presentation it deserves by using the clementine shells as bowls. Get the recipe>>
Blue Velvet Cupcakes
Put a spin on red velvet cake while showing your patriotism. Blue gel food coloring gives this recipe its patriotic blue color. Top it off with a star-shaped cake piece to really make it a special Fourth of July treat. Get the recipe>>
To make, add 1 ounce cream liqueur, 1/2 ounce banana-flavored liqueur, 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur and 1 ounce pineapple juice to a mixing glass. Fill glass 2/3 full with ice, cap with tin and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into martini glass. Recipe courtesy of The Melting Pot
Grilled Fruit Skewers
Grilling fruit may not sound appetizing, but it gives the fruit a caramelized flavor that your guests will love. Pair them with unexpected dips like ricotta cheese and yogurt. Get the recipe>>
This bright and refreshing cupcake recipe is made with Limoncello, a lemon-flavored Italian liqueur, adding an extra touch of citrus flavor. Top it with lemon candy and mint leaves to give it a summertime look. Get the recipe>>
The inside of this "cake" is actually a generous portion from a watermelon. This refreshing treat is topped with fluffy frosting, sliced almonds and fresh fruit. Get the recipe on HGTVGardens.com>>
Bourbon Cherry Vanilla Coke Slush
Go back to your childhood with a cocktail that tastes just like a cherry slushy. To make, combine 1-1/2 ounces cherry bourbon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 pitted cherries, 3 ounces Coke and one cup of ice in a blender. Blend until it forms a slushy consistency. Pour in a glass, and garnish with cherries.
Grilled Cumin Shrimp Avocado Gazpacho
Give your guests an easy appetizer that looks like it took you hours to make. The avocado gazpacho tones down the spicy flavor of the grilled shrimp. Get the recipe>>
Cardamom Berry Smash
The exotic spices in this blackberry juice, mixed with cardamom syrup and citrus botanicals, provide instant relief from the summer heat. Add some gin to really kick it up a notch. Get the recipe>>
Bacon Beef Burgers
Try adding bacon to your burger a different way. This burger recipe calls for half ground bacon and half ground beef for a flavor you can't pull off by just topping a burger with bacon strips. Get the recipe>>
To make, add 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup and two fresh strawberries to a mixing glass. Muddle until strawberries are broken down and incorporated into syrup. Add 1 1/2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce lemon juice and dash of bitters to the same mixing glass. Fill glass 2/3 full with ice, cap with tin and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a footed pilsner glass filled with ice. Add more ice if necessary, and top with wheat beer. Squeeze an orange wedge and discard, and garnish with a skewer of candied ginger cube and an orange slice. Recipe courtesy of The Melting Pot
Hop, Skip and Go Naked Punch
This punch recipe takes the classic lemonade recipe to the next level. The addition of beer and Canadian whiskey will have your guests coming back for more. Get the recipe>>
To save you time the day of your party, make these mini tacos the night before and assemble them right before serving. This recipe will satisfy guests that don't like barbecue food. Get the recipe>>
Austin City Lemonade
To make, add 1 1/2 ounces lemon vodka, 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup and three fresh raspberries to a mixing glass. Fill the glass 2/3 full with ice, cap with a tin, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, top with club soda and garnish with a skewer of raspberries. Recipe courtesy of The Melting Pot
Make your dessert the center of attention by serving miniature pies on sticks. Place the sticks in floral foam, and put them in a basket for an easy treat you can take with you anywhere. Get the recipe>>
To keep guests at bay while the burgers are grilling, serve up this delicious Greek salad dip. It can be easily prepared in advance, and refrigerating it overnight will only enhance the flavors. Served cold, it’s also a great choice for a sizzling summer party.
Make This: Greek Salad Layered Dip
French Onion Dip
Sweet caramelized onions and plenty of fresh thyme add bold flavor to brighten this hearty dip, inspired by French onion soup. Serve with cheesy baguette as the traditional soup garnish and endive for some pleasantly-bitter contrast to the richness. Get the recipe>>
Supreme Pizza Dip
This hearty dip has the works: pepperoni, onions and bell peppers stirred into a thick tomato sauce, all topped with gooey melted cheese. Serve in a skillet and let your guests pile their baguette slices high with toppings, deep-dish style. Get the recipe>>
Creamy Potato and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
This tangy potato dip is loosely based on the classic Greek skordalia and gets zip from a hefty dose of blanched garlic and fresh lemon juice. A quick roasted red pepper sauce is spooned into the middle of the potatoes to add even more flavor to this crowd-pleasing appetizer. Get the recipe>>
Bacon Beer Cheese
Cook 6 chopped bacon slices in a saucepan; remove, leave the drippings. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with the drippings. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook over medium heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add 1 cup each cream and beer, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups grated cheddar until melted. Serve topped with chopped scallions and bacon.
Southern Pimento Cheese
Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., shares a Smoky Mountain-style recipe for pimento cheese fritters, ideal for serving at casual get-togethers or large dinner parties. Get the recipe>>
Three is not a crowd in this flavorful assortment of hummus. Using the same base for all three makes this an easy way to create variety. Just stir in different toppings right before serving. Whether your guests like their dip spicy, earthy or traditional, there will be something for everyone. Get the recipes>>
Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Dip
This savory dip features the classic combo of earthy broccoli and rich, tangy cheddar. Like most cheese dips it's best devoured immediately after it's prepared, while the sauce is piping hot. Be sure to use mild cheddar in this recipe since sharp cheddars tend to get grainy when cooked in this type of sauce. Get the recipe>>
Jalapeño Queso Fundido
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Now for the drinks. As the host or hostess, you probably don’t want to be mixing drinks all day or night. Try a large-batch cocktail like this festive sangria, and you can mix it and forget it.
Make This: Red, White and Blue Sangria
Grapefruit Gin and Tonic
Our twist on the classic gin and tonic combines muddled mint, fresh pink grapefruit and sweet elderflower liqueur for a refreshing summer brew that will prove to be a major party pleaser.
Make This: Grapefruit Gin and Tonic
The Lime in the Coconut
Made from coconut vodka, coconut water, pineapple puree, fresh-squeezed lime juice and a splash of cherry-lime sparkling water, this refreshing big batch cocktail is a summery twist on the classic vodka soda.
Make This: Lime in the Coconut Cocktail
Coconut Mango Margarita
Not too sweet — but not too spicy — a blend of jalapeño, mango and coconut milk is a winning combination. You can make it in 10 minutes from start to finish, and no need for a high-powered blender because the recipe uses frozen mango cubes in lieu of ice cubes.
Make This: Coconut Mango Margarita
Coastal Citrus Punch
This refreshing punch can be made in a large glass jug and placed in a pail of ice for your summertime gathering. Place additional fruit and ice in glasses for a fun, decorative touch.
Make This: Coastal Citrus Punch
The flavors of this festive punch will bring you back to your childhood. Perfect for an outdoor gathering, bridal shower or Sunday brunch, this sunny concoction is easily doubled and great for a crowd.
Make This: Oranges-and-Cream Punch
Lemony Summer Shandy
This beer punch couldn't be easier to whip up, and its light, lemony flavor helps cool down hot summer days. Careful, though: The Canadian whiskey packs a punch.
Make This: Lemonade-Beer Punch
Rose and Lemon Sparkling Punch
Sparkling rosè and cranberry juice give this lemony punch its blush-pink hue, making it perfect for a summer picnic or bridal or baby shower.
Make This: Sparkling Rosè Punch
Garden Sun Tea
Sun tea is an easy and refreshing drink to serve your guests during a backyard party. Place a tea bag in each clean and sterile mason jar you plan to use for tea. (Prepare the jars just like you would before canning.) Fill with cold water and let the jars sit in the and steep for 2-4 hours. Remove the tea bag and place the jars in the fridge or on ice until ready to serve.
For your non-alcoholic option, homemade sun tea couldn’t be tastier or more refreshing. In the morning before your party, add fresh herbs, berries, water and a tea bag to a Mason jar. From there, just let the sun do the work! Let your drinks steep for 2-4 hours, then remove the tea bag. Put them in the fridge, and they’ll be ready by party time!
Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
To prepare for grilling your dessert, cut the tops off of the strawberries and use a cookie cutter to cut stars out of slices of pound cake. Place pieces of pound and berries alternately on the skewers until they are full. Grill over medium heat until your pound cake is lightly toasted and the berries are just beginning to soften. Cream together 4 ounces of softened butter and 4 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Serve with fresh off the grill cake and berries.
Now on to the best part: desserts! Both adorable and delectable, we love this innovative take on strawberry shortcake. For a shortcut, buy the cake at the grocery store and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to make the stars. Add strawberries and blackberries on a skewer and grill lightly on medium heat just until the pound cake is slightly toasted. Serve with fresh cream, and your guests will be delighted.
Pomegranate Blood Orange Tiramisu
Take advantage of in-season blood oranges to make this irresistible dessert that's sure to impress your dinner guests. Sweet-tart oranges and pomegranates pair perfectly with creamy mascarpone cheese. Get the recipe.
Champagne-Glazed Fruit Tarts
These bite-size nibbles are the perfect light ending to a heavy meal. Glaze the mini tarts with leftover Champagne or sparkling wine for a sweet finishing touch. Get the recipe.
This Italian trifle layers coffee-soaked ladyfingers with a rich mascarpone custard. Marsala wine, Grand Marnier and Kahlua give this traditional confection a sophisticated twist. Get the recipe.
Chocolate-Dipped Kettle Chips
We promise: You can't eat just one. Super-crunchy, salty, kettle-fried potato chips are the perfect canvas for a thick coating of chocolate. A thin layer of caramel and chopped nuts ensures this treat will satisfy all your cravings at once. Get the recipe.
Savory hints of ginger and rosemary add an unexpected flavor to this fresh and fruity dessert while the homemade nut crust is the just-right crunchy contrast to the smooth pastry cream. Get the recipe.
Chocolate-Dipped Pumpkin Madeleines
These traditional French cookies are the just-right treat to serve at any fall get-together. They're also the not-too-sweet complement to a cup of tea and party of one. Get the recipe.
Lemon Curd Tart
Tangy lemon curd combined with fresh whipped cream, a homemade pie crust and gorgeous berries make this tart one for the record books. The pie crust is super easy to make, so don't fear. And the lemon curd filling will have you licking the bowl. Get the recipe.
Cranberry Bliss Dacquoise Recipe
This impressive, towering dessert combines the flavors of cranberries and almonds with a decadent white chocolate mousse layered between homemade meringues. Make the components ahead of time and assemble just before serving to really wow your guests. Get the recipe.
Maple Nut Toffee
Take the traditional taste of toffee up a notch with the addition of real maple syrup. Topped with a layer of semisweet chocolate, it's hard to resist snacking on just one more piece. Get the recipe.
Carrot Cake Cookies Recipe
This iced cookie recipe is a refreshing twist on the classic cake. Best of all, you can spread the homemade cream cheese icing on top of each cookie or layer them to create a sandwich cookie. Get the recipe.
Pecan Pie Tartlets
Pecan pie is a can't-miss treat. Our twist turns them into mini hand-held tartlets, perfect for treating your guests to a dessert buffet or serving after a large meal when just a few bites are all you need. Get the recipe.
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe
The pilgrims were onto something — dense, spicy pumpkin pie is a tried-and-true crowd pleaser. Our recipe adds a dash of sea salt to bring out the pumpkin's mild sweetness. Get the recipe.
I’m already drooling over this lemon curd tart. Topped with berries, it can be made ahead of time and chilled in the fridge until your party. Bonus: it’s surprisingly easy to make!
Make This: Lemon Curd Tart
You can pretty much count on the Fourth of July to be toasty. Cool down your guests with these patriotic ice pops (which of course, you have to make ahead of time). Three colorful layers consisting of raspberry puree, creamy yogurt and blueberry puree look just as good as they taste!
Make This: Red, White and Blue Berry Pops
You can make lovely fabric rockets by covering an empty toilet paper roll with fabric. Cut a cone out of paper, or use a cone shaped paper cup and cover with fabric for the top. Hot glue the pieces together, and glue some ribbons to the bottom of your rocket. You can decorate with more ribbons, fabric or paint, or leave them as is. Line the walkway to your party with little rockets, or hang them from the trees and let them blow in the wind!
Whether you’re shooting off real fireworks or not, these sweet fabric-covered rockets are the perfect easy accessory for any Fourth of July party. Bonus: This is also a great way to upcycle old toilet paper rolls! Just cover the toilet paper roll with festive fabric, and add a cone on top (create your own cone shape or use a cone-shaped paper cup). Hot glue the pieces together, adding ribbon for extra flair!
After you line your walkway with adorable rockets, make a few for a fabulous fireworks-inspired wreath. Also incorporate matching pinwheels in varying sizes for a patriotic wreath that will definitely impress your guests.
Chances are you're used to barbecuing and eating watermelon during the warm summer months, but if you've never combined the two then now might be the perfect time. Grilled watermelon loses a bit of its sweetness, but keeps that signature watermelon flavor. So pull out the salt, pepper and olive oil and slap that melon on the grill.
Grilled Watermelon Recipe
Before grilling your watermelon, cut it into triangular slices, coat both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill each side on high heat until grill marks appear. Remove from the grill and sprinkle with pepper. Add a leaf of fresh basil and a slice of goat cheese to each slice and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve warm as is, or slice up for a yummy salad.
Garden Sun Tea
Sun tea is an easy and refreshing drink to serve your guests during a backyard party. Place a tea bag in each clean and sterile Mason jar you plan to use for tea. (Prepare the jars just like you would before canning.) Fill with cold water and let the jars sit in the sun and steep for 2-4 hours. Remove the tea bag and place the jars in the fridge or on ice until ready to serve.
You can add extra flavors to your sun tea by adding herbs, fruits and berries from the garden. In keeping with our Fourth of July theme, we used strawberries and blueberries! Wash the berries before placing them in the tea. Strawberries and basil work well together, and blueberries and mint are a tasty combo! Both work well with green tea.
Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
To prepare for grilling your dessert, cut the tops off of the strawberries and use a cookie cutter to cut stars out of slices of pound cake. Place pieces of pound cake and berries alternately on the skewers until they are full. Grill over medium heat until your pound cake is lightly toasted and the berries are just beginning to soften. Cream together 4 ounces of softened butter and 4 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Serve with fresh-off-the-grill cake and berries.
Ginger Mint Popsicle Recipe
Boil 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in a packed half cup of fresh mint leaves. Let the syrup cool and strain out the leaves and ginger pieces. Add the juice of 6 medium limes and 1 quart of sparkling water. Fill popsicle molds with blueberries and strawberry slices and pour the ginger mint mixture over them. Freeze for 8 hours and enjoy.
DIY Fabric Pinwheels
It's quick and easy to make beautiful pinwheels out of your favorite fabric. You can find more colors and textures with fabric than with paper, and your pinwheels will look more sophisticated than the average plastic one. Simply use fabric glue to attach two squares of starched fabric together. Use 5" squares for an average sized pinwheel. Then cut diagonally from each corner towards the center, leaving an inch radius around the center uncut. Fold the left corner of each triangle in towards the center and stitch or glue in place. If you want your pinwheels to spin, use pinwheel centers from your local craft store.
You can make lovely fabric rockets by covering an empty toilet paper roll with fabric. Cut a cone out of paper, or use a cone-shaped paper cup and cover with fabric for the top. Hot glue the pieces together, and glue some ribbons to the bottom of your rocket. You can decorate with more ribbons, fabric or paint, or leave them as is. Line the walkway to your party with little rockets, or hang them from the trees and let them blow in the wind.
Your rockets and pinwheels will also look amazing as part of a flower arrangement. Rather than going all red, white and blue, try using cream, pink and purple flowers. It will feel patriotic with a decorative touch. This arrangement of peonies and chive blossoms works perfectly with our pink, blue and purple pinwheels and rockets.
Mason Jar Star Lanterns
When the sun starts to set, you may want a little extra light while you wait for fireworks. Create these glowing star jars by placing star stickers on the outside of a clean mason jar. Use a sponge to apply white acrylic paint in a thin, even layer over the whole jar. Once dry, peel off the stickers to reveal the clear stars underneath. Light a candle in the jar and enjoy a mason jar full of twinkling stars!
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You definitely don’t want to save coming up with entertainment ideas until the day of the party or you’ll likely find yourself racing from store to store looking for affordable outdoor games. Not ideal on your day off. Instead, consider a few classic yard games that all your guests will love. We adore these red, white and blue cornhole boards, and you can even make them yourself out of old pallets!
Make This: Upcycled Pallet Cornhole Boards
Or, if guests are staying late, a midnight screening of "Independence Day" might be the perfect way to celebrate the day. Keep the party outside with a homemade movie screen you can use again and again.
Make This: DIY Outdoor Projector Screen
Will you have kids at your party? Let them have some fun of their own with a DIY water slide. All you’ll need is a long tarp and a water hose for a warm-weather activity the kids will be looking forward to every year!