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4th of July

Bring on all the red, white and blue, it’s time to celebrate America with the ultimate 4th of July party. A cookout is a start, and fireworks are definitely good, but if you really want to let freedom ring this year, you need a creative theme that will tie everything together, from your décor to your entertainment. These popular 4th of July party themes will get you started.

Since it’s just not summer unless you’re eating every meal al fresco, plan your theme around an outdoor activity, like hanging out at the beach, pool or in the countryside. Balmy summer nights are what we spend all winter waiting for, so don’t stay cooped up indoors on the 4th. If you want a firework show to be part of your fete, choose your venue based on proximity to the view. You’ll also want to start hosting later in the day, closer to nightfall, or if you’re starting early, make sure you have enough entertainment and eats to last until gametime.

Standard 4th of July fare is, of course, grilled-up comfort food, but you can take some liberty with how you execute it. Fire up the grill and serve up classics like burgers and hot dogs, or go the seafood route if you’re celebrating by the coast. For dessert, set up a s’mores bar, complete with different types of chocolate and flavored marshmallows.

Music can help set the tone of your soiree, so consider hiring a blueglass or acoustic band to deliver the crowd-pleasing American classics. Your décor should be patriotic, incorporating the red, white and blue color scheme with your table linens and flowers. And pro tip: Have blankets on hand. If it gets cool in the evening (particularly if you’re by the water), your guests can wrap up for the grand finale of fireworks.

Popular 4th of July Party Themes


Channel the New England coast no matter where you are with a Clambake. Seafood is an obvious (either with a grill or pots of boiling water) and don’t forget the lobster bibs! Skip the linens and cover your tables in kraft paper instead. Then, have crayons on the table for guests to express their inner artist.

Pool Party

True story: We never met a pool party we didn’t like. Serve classic poolside cocktails, slushie-style, and for dessert, try a fruit pizza. It’s refreshing, and unexpected. But priority number one? Pool floats. If you want it to be Instagrammable, you need your flamingos and swans there and accounted for.

Marni Wishart Photography

4th of July Formal

A simple, classic 4th of July theme never fails on the 4th. You know your color palette, but take it beyond décor and incorporate it into your drinks. A red, white and blue layered vodka cocktail makes a memorable signature drink. It wouldn’t be an American theme without a barbecue, but you could also offer a variety of vegetable and pasta salads.

Country Fair

A country fair is peak summer. Incorporate rustic details like metal serving trays and gingham tablecloths, and set up outdoor games like horseshoes and ring toss. For food, think common fair favorites, like fried chicken and pulled pork sandwiches. A bluegrass band is a no-brainer for keeping the party alive.

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