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!

The Food

Fourth of July Burgers

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.

Photo by: Cheyenne Mojica Photography

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

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Grilled Fruit Skewers

Grilled Fruit Skewers

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.

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Food Network Creamy Greek Salad Layered Dip

Food Network Creamy Greek Salad Layered Dip

Layer fresh Greek salad toppings over a cool yogurt dip with sweet cucumber and creamy feta cheese for a refreshing, lighter-tasting option at parties.

Photo by: Via Food Network

Via Food Network

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.

Plus, 24 More Dips to Try

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The Drinks

Red, White & Blue Sangria

Red, White & Blue Sangria

This deliciously festive Red, White & Blue Sangria is the perfect colorful cocktail for your upcoming 4th of July get together!

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

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.

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Garden Sun Tea

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!

The Sweets

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

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.

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Lemon Curd Tart With Berries

Lemon Curd Tart With Berries

Tangy and creamy, this fruit-topped tart is the just-right, not-too-sweet finish to your Thanksgiving dinner. Get the recipe: http://www.hgtv.com/entertaining/lemon-curd-tart-recipe/index.html

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

Red, White and Blue Berry Pops

Red, White and Blue Berry Pops

Beat the heat in style with this colorful holiday dessert.

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

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!

The Decor

Fabric Rockets

Fabric Rockets

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!

Rocket and Pinwheel Wreath

Rocket and Pinwheel Wreath

Welcome your guests with a festive Fourth of July wreath by attaching your rockets and pinwheels to an empty wreath form. Include small, medium and large pinwheels to fill it in and add variety.

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.

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The Festivities

How to Make a Corn Hole Game From Pallets

How to Make a Corn Hole Game From Pallets

Liven up your next backyard bash with this vintage inspired corn hole game made from old wooden pallets.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

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!

DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

Make this DIY outdoor movie screen in less than an hour and turn your next outdoor get-together into a neighborhood movie night.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

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.

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469932680

Laughing little Afro girl and friends playing together on a water slide in their yard in the sun

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/wundervisuals

©iStockphoto.com/wundervisuals

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!

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