July 4th is a beloved national holiday, not only because it celebrates all things American, but because it falls in deep summer, when the fruit is juicy, the grass is high, and the kids are out of school. There’s no better time for a parade, a party, or an afternoon spent making crafts with friends. Here are fifteen easy ways to help your family celebrate in style and learn more about the holiday.

  1. Celebrate tastefully. Top your pancakes with whipped cream, blueberries and diced strawberries; serve an open-faced sandwich with cream cheese, stripes of raspberry jam, and raisin stars; hand your kids a store-bought cake, a tub of vanilla frosting, strawberries and blueberries and let them decorate your dessert in red, white and blue!
  2. Thread red, white, and blue streamers through the spokes of your kids’ bikes for a patriotic pinwheel effect.
  3. Find an old-fashioned parade to watch or march in.
  4. Plant inexpensive American flags all around your yard, or hang red, white and blue bunting from your porch.
  5. Teach a crash course in flag etiquette: don’t let it touch the ground, bring it in at nightfall or when it starts raining, don’t embroider it on your clothes (red, white and blue is fine), and always treat it with respect.
  6. Bring out your patriotic favorites for an all-American dance party: the Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle Dandy, You’re a Grand Old Flag, America the Beautiful, America, This Land is Your Land ….
  7. Make a firecracker kite. Wrap an empty cardboard roll in white paper; decorate with crayons, markers and glitter. Glue cut streamers to the inside. Knot a long piece of yarn through holes poked in the top.
  8. Invite the neighborhood kids over for classic summer games: a water balloon toss, sack races, a two-legged race, or tag work great.
  9. It’s the reason for the season: skip the story tonight and read the Declaration of Independence.
  10. Make a Yankee Doodle Dandy hat. Decorate the outside of a disposable paper bowl with paint, glue, feathers and macaroni; let dry. Poke holes on each side and thread ribbons through; knot beneath the chin. Insta-dandy!
  11. Stars and stripes forever! Cut star shapes out of cardboard and let your kids decorate with paint and glitter. Use a hole punch to poke holes in the tops and hang them from your porch awning or ceilings with clear floss or fishing line.
  12. Visit your library and check out books on Betsy Ross, the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.
  13. Fill an ice cube tray with water and add a few blueberries, raspberries, or shards of coconut to each container. Freeze until solid, then add red, white and blue cubes to drinks.
  14. Make homemade popsicles with blueberry juice, cranberry juice, and lemonade, freezing one layer at a time.
  15. Assemble a care package of baby wipes, magazines, non-perishable snacks, and other small items and send it to a soldier stationed abroad. You can find one at www.anysoldier.com.

Inspired yet? The Fourth of July may be the one holiday you’d love to celebrate every day of the year – no presents, just lots and lots of fun and a great springboard to learning more about American history. Happy Independence Day!