If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of taking the easy route when it comes to entertaining. A polite way to describe this is laid back; another way is lazy.

This next story features some of my favorite party tips, “hacks” to make your 4th of July barbecue is so easy that you’ll enjoy the evening as much as your guests.

Although these are 4th of July party ideas, you can modify them for all sorts of outdoor entertaining this summer.

4th of July Party Ideas: Decorations

Many places are selling red, white, and blue decorations now, so it’s easy to purchase them ready made or to DIY (or a little of both, which is what I do).

Do you have any bandanas lying around? If so, they make a great table runner. Depending on the color of the bandanas, you can then accessorize with colored paper plates and napkins.

bandana table runners, 4th of july party ideas

4th of July Party Ideas: Bandanas (Image: ©depositphotos | maxoidos)

Another super easy way to decorate is to take plain mason jars or glasses and fill them with whatever flowers fit the theme (red, white and blue for the 4th). Adding a small flag ensures a patriotic tablescape. There’s a great example in the square photo above from BHG.com.

Want to repurpose what you already have? Take those red and white Christmas candles you didn’t use, add a dash of blue, and “Voila” — new holiday, new look!

This stress-free idea from indulgy.com looks great and is so simple; all you need are dried red, white, and black beans, which look dark blue anyway, and a clear vessel. What a wonderful idea!

party tips, 4th of July, dried beans, decor

4th of July Party Ideas: Beans! (Image: ©depositphotos | sjhuls)

Before we get to some easy 4th of July recipes, I’ve got to mention bike parades.

Years ago we lived on a cul-de-sac, and between us and our neighbors there were more than a dozen children under the age of 12. The highlight of the July 4th festivities was the bike parade, open to all tricycles, Big Wheels, and two wheelers. It was amazing what the kids did with crepe paper, markers, and glue.

party tips, bike parade

Bike Parade, Oregon, circa 1940s | Public Domain

If you want an idea of what it looked like or to plan a bike parade of your own, take a look here at the article on bike parades in realsimple.com.

4th of July Party Ideas: Drinks

First things first: It’s going to be hot, and you’ve got to keep the drinks cold.

I’ve made ice cubes from white grape, blueberry, and cranberry juice and added them to lemonade for kids, but you can get a little fancier and freeze raspberries, strawberries and blueberries in a little cranberry or white grape juice (Make them even more impressive by putting them in star shaped ice cubed trays, which you can buy at IKEA for 99 cents).

berry ice cubes, 4th of July, party ideas

4th of July Party Ideas: Ice Cubes (Image: ©depositphotos | romrodinka)

Frozen fruity cubes would also be excellent in sangria since as they melt, they flavor your drink. Check out our two favorite sangria recipes here.

4th of July Party Ideas: Salads

Sticking with fruit, you can also make a very simple “red, white, and blue” fruit salad with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. Just be sure to put the bananas in the salad right before serving so they stay “white.”

4th of july party ideas, fruit salad

4th of July Party Ideas: Fruit Salad (Image: ©depositphotos | Olyina)

A more sophisticated (but still easy) option is this Watermelon and Blueberry Salad with a Hint of Mint. It not only looks patriotic with the jicama and goat cheese, but it’s also healthy and loaded with vitamins.

watermelon blueberry salad, 4th of july party ideas

4th of July Party Ideas: Watermelon Salad (Image: ©depositphotos | clayball)

Finally, I know Jell-o salads aren’t for everyone, but I’ve got a soft spot for them and this Red, White ‘n’ Blue Salad from Taste of Home. It looks and tastes amazing even though it takes a bit of time and planning.

4th of July Party Ideas: Desserts

Before I get to actual recipes, here’s my party tip hack.

Give everyone a big bowl of vanilla ice cream and let them add red and blue fruit plus sprinkles for the easiest patriotic dessert you can serve. If you buy berries, the toughest part will be scooping the ice cream and rinsing them off.

july 4th dessert, 4th of July party ideas

4th of July Party Ideas: Dessert (Image: ©depositphotos | StephanieFrey)

If you’re feeling a tad more ambitious, here are a few recipes that will work.

On the healthy side, there are these Firecracker Ice Pops by Martha Stewart that take 10 minutes to make.

My favorite, however, is the classic, old school flag cake. As I said, I’m “laid back,” so I use a store bought cake mix (we like chocolate but you might prefer vanilla), cool whip and then make strawberry stripes and blueberry “stars.”

Those of you who want something a bit more elaborate can try this recipe for Red, White and Blue Flag Cake from Examiner.com, which features butter cream frosting instead of cool whip, and has pretty piping along the edges, something a bit too technical for me.

For more fun and easy 4th of July party ideas, visit our Pinterest board. And if you throw your own party, be sure to take pictures and post them to our Facebook page!