Whether you're organizing a neighborhood-wide Fourth of July parade or throwing a celebration for just a few friends, our fun and patriotic outdoor party ideas will help you get started. Follow these eight simple steps to throw the perfect star-spangled Fourth of July party for friends and family. Mix up a batch of patriotic drinks, get your Fourth of July recipes ready, and start decorating your bikes wagons!
Step 1: Designate the parade route
If your neighborhood doesn't already have a Fourth of July parade, organize your own! First, decide on a location; for smaller parades, an alley, driveway, yard, or stretch of sidewalk work well. For larger parades involving bikes and trucks, you may need to contact your city council to get permission to block off a street. Mark the starting and ending place of your parade using banners or flags, and always have a back-up plan in case of bad weather.
Step 2: Send parade invitations
You can't have a parade without guests and participants! Invite the neighborhood to join your Fourth of July festivities, and spread the word to family and friends as well. Let the attendants know what to bring or how to help ahead of time. Remind your guests to dress in red, white, and blue and to bring lawn chairs to sit in for relaxed viewing. Hand out flags, leis, or hats as fun Fourth of July party favors.
Step 3: Decorate a DIY parade float
Put together a float using a truck and flatbed, or make a smaller-scale display using a few bicycles and wagons. To make a lightweight American flag for your float, stuff red, white, and blue tissue paper into the holes of a rectangular piece of chicken wire fencing; attach the flag to the back of the trailer or wagon using wire. If you have a large float, hang streamers along the edges of the flatbed, and add hay bales for seating; have the riders of the float wave flags and throw out candy.
Step 4: Make patriotic signs
Help the kids make a banner, sign, or flag to hang on their floats or to hold while marching in the Fourth of July parade. Decorate a large piece of plywood or poster board with paint, stickers, markers, and glitter, or string a printable garland together. Stick to traditional patriotic designs, or make your signs and banners in support of local sports teams and organizations. You can even turn our printable Fourth of July coloring pages into signs for your parade.
Step 5: Decorate scooters and bikes
Invite the neighborhood kids to decorate their scooters, bicycles, or wagons for the parade. Provide streamers, balloons, ribbons, and bells, or instruct them to arrive pre-decorated. Look for inexpensive decor online or at party supply stores. Award the participants with the most creative or patriotic "vehicle."
Step 6: Involve the pets
Get the neighborhood pets involved: Invite guests to bring their furry friends to the Fourth of July parade. Tie bandannas around the pets' necks, and have their owners walk them along the parade path. Set out bowls of water along the parade route or by your seating so the pooches don't overheat, and make sure to follow our holiday guidelines for keeping pets safe.
Step 7: Serve refreshments
One of the perks of having a small neighborhood parade is you don't have to transport refreshments very far. Whip up a few festive drinks to serve the crowd who gathers to watch the parade; a festive Fourth of July cocktail or non-alcoholic red, white and blue drink is the perfect refreshment for a hot day.
Step 8: Organize a post-parade potluck
Ask guests to bring an appetizer or dessert to share for after the Fourth of July parade, or prepare a small table of simple refreshments, like lemonade, iced tea, and cookies. Set the table in the spirit of the Fourth with a red, white, and blue tablecloth, or one of our other Fourth of July decorating ideas.