Planning a fun Fourth of July weekend for the family doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming. With a little planning and creativity you can have a fun holiday weekend that won't break the bank or run you ragged.
A Simple Backyard Picnic
Any size yard is a great place for a Fourth of July party. From a small suburban yard, to rural acreage, backyard cookouts are always fun. Grab the hot dogs, burgers and s'mores. Add a variety of toppings and condiments and you have an easy, fun dinner.
Fun, easy games for all ages are as easy as a volleyball or badminton set. Lower the nets for a younger crowd and you have guaranteed laughter. Throw in a simple soccer ball, or football for older kids, and a set of horseshoes for the adults and you have instant fun at minimal expense. If the day if particularly hot, slip on the swimsuits and turn on the sprinkler.
Fun Things Near Home
If getting out of the backyard is more your style, you can still do it inexpensively. Nearly every community has events planned for the holiday weekend, check your local newspaper, chamber of commerce or online event calendars for details. Many museums are offering reduced rate admission for families over the Fourth of July weekend, and if you are Bank of America card holder the bank has free weekend passes to participating museums. You can get details on its website. If you Google drive-ins you will discover that there are still several thousand drive-in movie theaters open all across the U.S. Pack a picnic, some blankets and head to the movies. Most have a "per-carload" charge that is less than US$15 and they usually make a point to show family-friendly movies during the holiday weekend. Don't forget other fun options like miniature golf, bowling or taking a canoe ride down the local waterway. All of these are fun, can include the entire family and are affordable.
If it's in your budget to have a weekend vacation, consider journeying to Washington D.C. There are hundreds of Independence Day activities planned. The annual fireworks at the National Mall, the parade down Constitution Ave. and musical performances at the Washington Monument are all free. Consider camping for the weekend. Several camping retailers will rent equipment if you don't have the gear. Even if you don't camp, spending the weekend in a tent for the holiday will be a memorable experience for your kids. You can also rent RVs, but they can be expensive. Remember, this is a holiday weekend, so if you do plan on camping at a state or national park, call ahead to ensure sites are available. Some sites are reserved well in advance.
Crafts and Cookies
Bake a batch of 50 cookies, one for each state. There are sets of cookie cutters that include all the states you can purchase. That initial purchase can be expensive, but you can re-use them for years to come. If you'd rather, just decorate cookies in red, white and blue icing. There are many crafts you can make with younger children that will only require items you already have around the house. Cardboard, glitter, glue and crayons can be used to make a Statue of Liberty crown, stars, mini-American flags and pictures of fireworks. Sites like Enchanted Learning.com have dozens of easy, inexpensive projects.
Parties are celebrations, and while this holiday has a long history of freedom, patriotism and pride, it should also remind us of the importance of family and spending time with them. Whatever corner of the U.S. you live in, find local celebrations, do something a little different and celebrate with family this Independence Day.