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Plan the Perfect 4th of July Cookout

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fourth of july picnic food

On July 4th, 1776, the United States claimed its independence from Great Britain and Democracy was born. Independence Day became our nation’s birthday, and has been a great cause for celebration for 239 years!

Anticipating the magnitude of this momentous historic event, our second President John Adams wrote a letter to his beloved wife Abigail stating,

“…I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival…It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

And so it has! What memory does the July 4th holiday conjure up for you? Family, friends, barbecues, fireworks, parades, concerts, picnics, baseball games? We know that the logistics of planning for a holiday gathering can be stressful, so we came up with some tips to get your party planning started.


Start your planning by determining your guest list and obtain head-count confirmation before you go to the store. The head-count will inform the number of plates, hotdogs, drinks, chairs, etc. You may also wish to have family and friends bring a dish to pass, which is actually an American picnic tradition. Prior to the gathering, circulate an email sign-up sheet with a list of options (e.g. salad, dessert, fruit, casserole, etc.) for guests to sign on to bring something special to the table.

Here are some side dish suggestions (and recipes!) to consider as you’re preparing your list:

Fruit Tray:   Incorporate some red, white and blue into your food display. Put together a platter full of blueberries, watermelon, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Add some vanilla yogurt to the mix and you are all set! We like this recipe.

Colorful Pasta Salad:   No BBQ is complete without some carbs added into the mix! Here’s a colorful  recipe.

Grilled Corn on the Cob:   For a hit, try this recipe. Have plenty of butter on hand, as well as Old Bay Seasoning, and salt and pepper for additional flavor.

Guacamole:   Whatever you do, don’t buy guacamole – make it yourself! Here’s an authentic recipe.

Desserts:   The best part of the meal! There are so many July 4th dessert recipes it was hard to pick just one favorite, so here’s two: The ultimate patriotic sugar cookie recipe, and of course, a great red velvet cupcake recipe.

Refreshing Beverage:   How about some Red, White and Blue Sangria? Here’s a refreshing recipe for 21 and over drinkers.

  watermelon strawberries and blueberries      delicious hamburger


If guests are bringing the side dishes you can cover the main course, which is typically hamburgers, hotdogs, and veggie burgers for our vegetarians and vegans.  So how much hamburger should you get? Purchase six ounces of ground chuck (80% fat, 20% lean) per burger. To calculate how much ground chuck you need, simply use this equation: Take the number of burgers needed and multiply by 6, then divide by 16. For example, 4 burgers = 1.5 lbs. of meat. Easy!

Note: Consider making mushroom-filled “ Whamburgers” Madda Fella’s favorite burger! This recipe is located in our Father’s Day Journal post.

In addition to hamburger and hotdog buns, don’t forget to pick up plenty of condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, relish, and mayonnaise. For toppings, you’ll need lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, peppers, cheese, avocados, and some jalapeños for those who dare!

Ensure plenty of chairs and tables are available based on your number of guests. Consider renting or borrowing more if needed. And how about festive red, white and blue tablecloths?


What kind of party would it be without some tunes? Turn up the speakers and enjoy our 4th of July party playlist available  here on Spotify, and here for listeners. 

happy fourth of july  

We hope you enjoy these suggestions for a safe and enjoyable Independence Day gathering and celebration! 

For more fun 4th of July inspiration, visit our Pinterest board .

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