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I bet you know the history of the 4th of July. We all were required to read the Declaration of Independence in grade school and even some of us have it memorized. Even if you’re not knowledgeable about all of the history, you probably love a good hotdog, some fireworks, and backyard games with the family. Well, after reading this little “July 4th Guide,” you’ll be able to quote the history, fire up the grill, and teach your kids a new game or two.

 

July 4th, Beginning with a Boom

 

July 4th, also known as Independence Day, is recognized as America’s birthdate. On this midsummer day millions of Americans celebrate their country by shooting off fireworks, watching parades, spending time with family, or grilling out. Before July 4th, 1776, tension had been growing between the thirteen colonies and Great Britain. On July 2nd, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted for independence from Great Britain. Although the idea had been presented on June 7th, a conclusion had not been reached. The Continental Congress formed a committee made up of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson was considered the best writer so he was tasked with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Even though a vote was confirmed on July 2nd to move forward with breaking away from England, the Declaration wasn’t finalized until July 4th. Today, as a nation we celebrate every year the birth of American independence. Right after the Declaration of Independence was completed, it was published in newspapers and read out loud in public settings. People celebrated with parades, music, and lots of fireworks. Today, not too much has changed (other than the public reading part). You’ll see many American flags decorating neighborhoods and almost every community has fireworks to celebrate. The U.S. Congress made July 4th a national holiday in 1870. The day became a federally paid holiday in 1938.

 

Fun Facts About Independence Day

 

In 1776 American independence was celebrated in many different ways. A memorable way colonists celebrated their new-found freedom was by hosting mock funerals for King George III. The Declaration of Independence was distributed and the first newspaper to publish it was The Pennsylvania Post on July 6th. In Philadelphia’s Independence Square the document was read publicly on July 8th, 1776 for the first time. Later it was celebrated with bonfires and loud noises! Today, there is a lot more people in the U.S. to celebrate. In 1776 there were about 2.5 million residents. Today, there are about 311.7 million! Interestingly enough, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4th, 1826.

 

Breaking Tradition in the Backyard

 

Just because America is celebrating its 240th birthday, doesn’t mean you have to stick to 240 year old traditions! This holiday, break out of the box and try some new things for your gathering with friends and family. You can keep with the same outdoor get-together, just spice it up a bit with a fun hot dog, special 4th of July White Sangria, and games that will get the entire family connecting over the holiday.

 

Hotdogs with a Hawaiian Twist

 

It’s estimated that 150 million hotdogs will be eaten on July 4th! If you have a grill and family, you’ll probably consume a few yourself on this day. Don’t be boring and try the same old dogs. This Hawaiian recipe from The Endless Meal will have you celebrating in style. To make Hawaiian Hot Dogs with Grilled Pineapple and Teriyaki Mayo, you’ll need some non-traditional ingredients like pineapple, grape seed oil, lime juice, jalapenos, and more. Blogger Kristen walks you through the recipe and even has delicious pictures to show you that being festive can be unique! Click here to see how.

 

Star Spangled Sangria

 

Another fun way to host a backyard gathering is to provide a specialty cocktail for family and friends. The 4th of July White Sangria is easy to prepare and will “wow” all of your guests. Delish Plan says all you need is fifteen minutes to mix this tasty treat. To begin, gather two cups strawberries, one cup blueberries, 3-4 Bosc pears, two bottles of Moscato, one cup tonic water, a half a cup of Gin, and a half cup of fresh lemon juice. After chilling the mix in your refrigerator for at least eight hours it will be ready to share! Sharon Chen, writer of Delish Plan, also suggests cutting the pears into star shapes for a more festive drinking experience.

 

United Gaming

 

Why not celebrate the United States by playing backyard games that bring the entire family together? Whether you have a gathering with real blood relatives or just your social crew that’s like your family, buy these supplies and get connecting!

 

Freedom Fighters

 

Before your guests make it to your party, fill up as many water balloons as you can. To make them look extra inviting, consider buying red, white, and blue ones. Place them in large buckets around the backyard. In addition to the balloons, fill a few fun super soakers. Let guests know ahead of time to bring a change of clothes and their own towels. After eating, divide the group into teams or play “every man for himself.” Have the guests vote on who got others the most wet.

 

Ring Toss

 

Are you great at cornhole? Maybe this challenge will give you a new outdoor game to obsess about. For this kid-friendly game, all you need are American flags and four hoola hoops. With these items you can create your own July 4th ring toss!  My Activity Maker suggests covering the hoola hoops in colored duct tape to differentiate the colors. Two should be blue and two should be red. Once you have your “hoops” created, stick the flags into the ground so they create poles. Divide guests into teams and take turns throwing the hoola hoops onto the American flags. My Activity Maker explains it like this, “If your flags are in a straight line, the object of the game will be to see who can ring the most flags on their turn.” To make it extra fun, consider challenging players to throw the rings while facing away from the flags, sing the Star Spangled Banner outloud while throwing the hoops, or throwing them with their eyes closed.

 

Hosting Your Backyard Bash

 

Remember that on July 4th everyone wants to be relaxed and have a good time. Don’t overthink activities and keep things simple. It may be tempting to over-plan but allow your guests to enjoy the day and connect with one another. A few games, a pot-luck lunch, and a few cocktails will make your July 4th celebration a day to remember.

 

Resources

 

Hawaiian Hot Dogs with Grilled Pineapple and Teriyaki Mayo

http://www.theendlessmeal.com/hawaiian-hot-dogs/

4th of July White Sangria

http://www.delishplan.com/4th-of-july-white-sangria/

Carnival Week: Giant Ring Toss

http://www.myactivitymaker.com/?q=CRingToss

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