One of the best things about summer is the opportunity to grill out, eat your meals al fresco, and kick back with a few friends over cocktails. 4th of July is on its way. What’s more American than celebrating with a classic cookout?
It’s a great excuse for everyone to take time out of their busy summer schedules and get together for a fun afternoon or evening of food and festivities. The fireworks are just a bonus!
There’s something communal about a cookout where it doesn’t seem strange to ask guests to bring a dish to share. You can provide the meats and drinks, but request that each guest bring their favorite side dish to fill up the table. Some ideas include: baked beans, potato salad, fruit plate, veggie tray, or a cold pasta dish. For the vegetarians in your group, make veggie kabobs with onions, peppers, and squash to throw on the grill. Grilled corn and tomatoes are also a delicious choice.
When hosting a cookout, the food should be flavorful, but simple. First, make sure you have a guest list and a running tally of who is bringing what. That way you know in advance if you need extra plates, another dessert, or if you need to make a run to the liquor store for more beverages or ice.
A great idea for a pretty dessert is to make a flag cake. It’s fairly simple to do, but the presentation looks like you’ve slaved hours on it. Bake up a white cake in a rectangular pan. Top with white frosting and line up halved strawberries for the stripes, and cluster blueberries in the upper left corner for the stars. No time to bake a cake? Mix strawberries and blueberries in a bowl and sprinkle on a few teaspoons of sugar to sweeten things up. It’s a quicker, healthier option that looks just as pretty.
Once you have the food menu set, you can concentrate on the drinks. Make both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks available. Have plenty of water available to keep everyone hydrated. Also, a non-alcoholic punch makes it feel like a party.
Once you have the basics ready, embrace the holiday and mix a special, Independence Day cocktail. A colorful drink that’s a cinch to whip up includes vodka, lemonade, Blue Curacao mixed together and topped with grenadine. It’s refreshing and patriotic at the same time.
When it comes to decorating, it’s as easy as making everything red, white, and blue. From the paper plates to the streamers to the plastic table cloths, take advantage of the holiday and show your patriotism with the colors that represent America. Sprinkle mini flags or colorful stars on all the tables for an extra pop or keep things simple and gather a bunch of red, white and blue flowers and arrange them in different vases.
While you’re at it, you and your co-host should be part of the decor as well. Put together a chic outfit that incorporates red, white, and blue either into your clothing or accessories. Outfit your husband in some Tipsy Elves flag shorts so that he’ll be both comfortable and part of the 4th of July theme while he mans the grill. Together, you’ll be the most festive cookout hosts anyone has seen!
Set up lawn games if your cookout is a family affair or set up a wine or beer tasting if it’s adults only. You can also screen an American classic in the background, like Forrest Gump, or put together a friendly game of baseball. It all depends on the mood you want to set for the party and how many people you plan to invite.
For lawn games, choose lawn darts, corn hole, horseshoes, and other easy games for people of all ages to play. If it’s expected to be extra hot this 4th of July, think about setting a small blowup pool or a slip-and-slide for the kiddos to stay cool.
If your guests are 21+, set up a wine tasting by getting a good mix of reds and whites and have people mark their favorites. You can also turn it into a game by asking guests to match the wine with the name. The person with the most correct answers can win a bottle to take home with them.
Don’t overthink the details of a cookout. It can be as easy as putting on a summer-inspired playlist and enjoying time catching up with friends and family while waiting to watch the fireworks.
What are your 4th of July plans? What food do you plan on serving?