Tucked right in the heart of summer, the Fourth of July calls for a celebration of patriotism and brings to mind favorite summer traditions — barbecues, parades and firework shows. With little kids though, hitting up the parade, local fireworks show and neighborhood barbecue all in one day might leave you waving a white flag rather than an American one. There are many ways to celebrate Independence Day with your family — and you can do it without leaving your home. Teach your kids some fun facts about American history, help them learn the words to the Star Spangled Banner, tell them what you love most about being American and celebrate the holiday with some of these simple activities:
Wear Festive Socks
There’s nothing cuter than holiday-themed, pint-sized clothes, but before you splurge on an entire American flag outfit for your little people, dig through their drawers and closets. I bet you’ll find some red, white and blue things already in there. Pair them with some inexpensive patriotic socks — and just cut the feet off to turn them into some festive legwarmers.
Spice Up Your Ice
Turn water into a cold holiday drink by adding red and blue star ice cubes. Use star-shaped candy mold trays available at craft stores, add a few drops of food coloring to water and freeze for an hour. Turn it into a color-mixing lesson for your kids — and they’ll love watching the ice cubes dissolve, turning the water purple as they melt.
Try a Betsy Ross Manicure
You don’t need to know how to sew to create this flag. Your kids will love sporting their patriotism on their fingers. Alternate red and blue nail polish colors for a festive manicure and paint tiny white stars (use a toothpick for precision) to finish it off. Or, for a full-flag effect, try your hand at some stripes.
Make Fourth of July Finger Jell-O
A kid favorite, you can make finger Jell-O, using star-shaped cookie cutters for an easy Fourth of July treat. Make sure you follow the Jell-O Jiggler recipe to get a firmer treat, perfect for little hands.
Decorate Your Wheels
Whether you’re taking the wagons and bikes downtown for the big parade or creating your own with a few neighborhood kids on your own sidewalk, adding a festive flare to your wheels is a fun bonding activity for the whole family. Cut some gold glitter foam into star shapes, add some patriotic ribbon and throw in a few pom-poms. Then add some hoots and hollers and throw some candy — and you have yourself a parade!
Add Some Flag Toothpicks
No Pinterest needed for this easy decoration. Whatever you’re serving on the Fourth of July, all you have to do is poke some flag toothpicks into it, and you’ve turned ordinary food into a festive feast.
Red, White and Blue Parfait Station
My kids loved making their own Independence Day parfaits as much as they did eating them. Set out bowls of angel food cake cubes (skip the cake if you just want to go the berry and cream route), raspberries, blueberries and fresh whipped cream — and let your kids layer them into small, clear parfait cups.
Adults love this treat too!
Pop the Balloon Game
Get the kids active with this lively game, perfect for July Fourth, especially if you use red, white and blue balloons. Tie a balloon on the foot of each child with at least one-and-a-half-feet of string lag — and let them loose to pop each other’s balloons. The object of the game is to be the last one standing with an unpopped balloon still attached.
You don’t have to be an artist to thrill your kids with some simple face painting. Can’t paint the Statue of Liberty? You’re in luck — a few stars will do. While most craft stores sell face painting kits, I use acrylic paints with a small paint brush for my kids’ cheeks and hands (as long as they’re old enough to know not to rub it off or taste it).
Skipping the fireworks show this year? Bring them to your table with these simple frosted cupcakes. Fold a bundle of colored glitter pipe cleaners in half, twisting the bottom together so that you can poke it into a cupcake top. Bend the tips of each pipe cleaner down to form a fireworks spray and poke into a frosted cupcake.
Have a Happy Fourth of July with your families!