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With summer barbecues and holiday celebrations coming up, you might need a little help to make it a success with new and different 4th of July food ideas, decorations, and games. Here are some of our favorite stress-free tips that are budget friendly — what KCL does best — and so easy that kids can help.
A lot of our 4th of July food ideas include items — popsicle sticks, muffin tins, and sprinkles — that you can easily pick up at Dollar Tree or on Amazon. Before you start shopping, browse KCL’s food coupons page to download savings. Or, download the KCL app for printable coupons and rebate offers.
1. Serve barbecue condiments in a muffin tin.
Muffin tins at Dollar Tree are cheap ways to serve your favorite condiments. For just $1.25 each, you could have multiple tin stations for liquid condiments, chopped vegetables, or fresh fruit.
Another option is to store packaged treats like fruit snacks or candy.
2. Turn red Dollar Tree mini cups into 4th of July decorations with electrical tape and star stickers.
These 4th of July decorations are both easy and adorable! To make your own patriotic party lights, you’ll need red 2-ounce mini cups from the Dollar Tree, white and blue electrical tape, star stickers, and a strand of white string lights.
- Wrap the white tape around and then overlap the blue electrical tape around the top of your cup. The tape is flexible, which makes this process quick and easy! Don’t pull too hard on the tape — it will stretch and leave your stripes uneven.
- Using a craft knife, cut an “X” in the bottom of each cup. Make sure the “X” is large enough for the light to push through. If not, forcing the bulb too much can cause the cup to crack.
- Finish them off by applying star stickers, inserting the light bulbs into each cup, and hanging them for your guests to enjoy!
Need some ways to save on outdoor string lights? We’ve already done the research for you. You’re welcome!
3. Prepare a sticky fingers station for messy holiday foods.
Sure, ribs, burgers, and chicken wings are delicious 4th of July food ideas, but they can get really messy. By creating a “sticky fingers” station, kids and adults can congregate without messing up their clothes and your furniture.
Use a metal or plastic tub and fill it with wet wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer pumps. Here are paper towel coupons and hand sanitizer deals to get this idea going.
4. Create a fireworks photo backdrop on concrete with spray chalk.
If you’re going to take photos at your cookout, make it memorable. Using red, white, and, blue spray chalk, decorate your driveway with fireworks and stars. You could even use star stencils or draw them freehand if you have the skills.
Once the chalk is dry, have your kids pose for photos. When you’re finished, simply wash it away with water!
You could also make an American flag photo backdrop using fabric, a wooden dowel, paint, and hot glue.
5. Popsicle sticks make eating watermelon easy and mess free.
Fruit at a barbecue is great for offsetting all of the junk food, but carrying around a plate of fruit may not be ideal — especially watermelon. To fix this, use popsicle sticks to make it easier to eat any melons that are on your 4th of July food ideas list.
Slice the watermelon (or honeydew, or cantaloupe) into triangles and insert the stick into the rind.
Don’t forget to use fruit coupons, because fresh fruit can get costly.
6. Dip ice cream cones in white chocolate and red, white, and blue sprinkles.
Are there any better 4th of July food ideas than ice cream? I think not. Use red, white, and blue sprinkles for a festive approach to ice cream cones.
Dip the top of the sugar cone in melted white chocolate, then in sprinkles. Add a few scoops of ice cream and voilà!
You could also add sprinkles to pre-scooped ice cream and eat it out of disposable food boats or waffle bowls. Use ice cream coupons to make sure you have enough.
7. Add food coloring to a vase of flowers for an easy 4th of July decoration.
Summer party decorations shouldn’t have to cost a lot. Add water and blue food coloring to a small vase, mason jar, or old can. Then, stick in white carnations and red roses (to go with the holiday theme).
If you have more time, add food coloring to a vase with white flowers the day before to turn them colors! Do one with red and one with blue, then on the day of your party transfer the red, white, and blue flowers to a new vase.
8. Make a no-sew 4th of July decoration by tying bandanas together.
Bandanas should be a staple at every holiday gathering, because they’re useful in many ways and super friendly on the wallet. Pick up a 2-pack of bandanas from Dollar Tree for $1.25.
Tie them from end to end and hang them on a fence, front door, or along a folding table. No sewing needles involved!
Use these multi-colored pieces of fabric as a table runner, utensil wrapper, or as reusable napkins. You could even make a door knocker by hot gluing bandanas around a round foam wreath.
9. Use Mod Podge to create American flag lighting with mason jars.
As a kids’ craft, this is pretty fun to do, and probably doesn’t need adult supervision (depending on their age). Use Mod Podge (you can find it at the dollar store too) to glue small American flags to mason jars. Illuminate them with tea lights or battery-operated candles and you’re set!
Drop in a tea light to illuminate a pathway, or use them as 4th of July decorations on tables.
10. Tie-dye an Old Navy baby onesie in red, white, and blue.
Here’s a 4th of July shirt idea that is doable for everyone — babies, kids, and adults. First, you’ll need to pick up a $5 patriotic Old Navy onesie.
Just so you know, tie-dye is runny and permanent, so protect your work surface by covering it well. I use zip ties with my tie-dye projects instead of rubber bands (you’ll get cleaner lines this way).
What you’ll need:
- Disposable rubber gloves (one for each color)
- Mini tie-dye kit with red and blue dye
- Zip ties
- Twist the onesie from the top right-hand side, and fasten the zip ties into place.
- With the zip ties secured, mix your dye as instructed.
- Apply the dye to the onesie in sections, skipping sections that you want to stay white. Be careful — if you add too much dye, the colors can bleed together and you’ll end up with a purple onesie.
- When you’re done with the dye, place your onesie in a plastic bag and put it in the sun for 6 – 8 hours.
- Rinse the onesie under warm water with the zip ties still in place until the water runs clear.
- Carefully remove the zip ties and wash the onesie in your washing machine on the hottest setting. The heat helps the ink to set.
And remember, DO NOT wash it with any other items the first time, because some of the ink may transfer. Discover other money-saving tie-dye ideas or more ideas to bling out your Old Navy Shirt.
11. Turn plain paper plates into a wind catcher.
Tight on time and need quick decorations? Grab a couple of paper plates, acrylic paint, string, a hole punch, and scissors.
Paint red stripes on the bottom of a white paper plate. Use scissors to cut the plate into a spiral (like cutting an orange peel). Draw or trace a star onto the bottom of a second white plate.
Then paint your star blue. Use a hole punch to create holes, attach string to the spiral and the star, and hang it in your entryway, from the family room ceiling, or just let the kids run around with it.
12. Shield kids’ hands from sparkler burns with a plastic cup.
Sadly, I know all too well about sparkler burns. My 4-year-old son didn’t believe me when I told him that it was hot, but he picked it up anyway and was almost impossible to console. Learn from me and make a small hole at the bottom of a Solo cup and slide the sparkler through before burning. Tears are now smiles!
13. Prevent a fire by extinguishing fireworks in a bucket of water.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many fires from 4th of July parties are started by fireworks that were lit and then tossed in a trash can.
Prevent this by extinguishing any fireworks in a bucket of water. As an extra precaution, leave the fireworks in the water bucket away from your house overnight.
Depending on the size of the fireworks, a large Home Depot bucket (only $5) will work. As long as you’re picking up a bucket, get familiar with Home Depot hacks.
14. Make DIY confetti poppers with toilet paper tubes, balloons, and flags.
For a non-flame firework alternative, make confetti poppers with toilet paper tubes, balloons, American flags, and confetti. They’ll love seeing the contents fly, and you don’t have to worry about burns.
Tie a knot at the base of a balloon. This will be where your kids grab and snap the balloon, making the confetti fly.
Using scissors, cut the balloon in half. Stretch the bottom half over the end of a toilet paper tube and secure it with tape. Use hot glue to attach a small American flag to the roll. Let your kids fill the “popper” with confetti, pull the balloon, and watch it fly.
15. Grill foil-wrapped s’mores for one of your best 4th of July food ideas.
If a bonfire isn’t an option, but you’re craving s’mores, assemble the ingredients, wrap them in aluminum foil, and toast them on a grill. This dessert idea will keep the mess minimized to the foil. Don’t forget to use that “sticky fingers” station!
16. Use a shower cap and ice to keep food cold during your party.
Some foods you just don’t bring to cookouts because they’re too much work to keep at the right temperature, right? Nobody should eat warm mayo.
To keep food safe, add ice to a shower cap then place a bowl filled with cold food (like pasta salad) in the cap, allowing the elastic to stretch over the sides to create an ice-box effect. Your food should stay cool for hours.
And while you’re at it, use a second shower cap to cover any food that’s sitting out. Gotta keep those bugs away!
17. Make a twirly hanging banner out of red and blue Solo cups.
Start by cutting the lip off of a cup. Once the lip is gone, begin cutting the cup at a slight angle, rotating it to create a spiral. When you reach the bottom of the cup, cut it off.
Use a hole punch to make a hole through each strip. Thread a piece of string through the hole, and display your twirly cups as a decorative banner.
18. Pop balloons filled with confetti for a fun 4th of July party idea.
Create a funnel for confetti by cutting the top off a plastic water bottle. Blow up each balloon, and using a pin, pop them! The confetti flying makes for a great photo op and will have your whole family entertained!
TIP: For easy cleanup, lay a sheet or disposable Dollar Tree tablecloth on the ground to catch the confetti as it flies.
19. Light up your drink cooler with red, white, and blue glow sticks.
Red, white, and blue glow sticks are awesome for nighttime 4th of July games, but they can also be repurposed to make your drink bucket glow. With the bucket full of ice, activate the glow stick by cracking it, then place your bottles or cans on top.
Dollar Tree has patriotic glow wands that are perfect for helping guests find their favorite drinks after dark. The glow should last for several hours. You’ll probably want beverage coupons to stay within your budget.
20. Make your 4th of July party’s bonfire magical by adding color flame packets.
Purchase color flame packets to make your bonfire festive and magical. Just throw the unopened packet into the fire and watch your fire start to change colors. This is also a cool idea for camping. If you’re thinking about that route, discover some camping hacks to make it memorable.
21. Use a cookie cutter to create watermelon stars for your drinks.
Cookie cutters aren’t just for sweet treats. Use star-shaped cookie cutters on watermelon or cantaloupe, place them on a small sheet tray, and freeze. Add your stars to Kool-Aid or a blue sports drink like Gatorade.
Another fun 4th of July food idea is to make fruit skewers. Make star shapes with the cookie cutters, slide grapes along the skewer, and finish with your melon star at the end. It’s like an edible sparkler!
22. Play 4th of July games with decorated cans and socks filled with rice.
When the weather is warm and it’s a holiday weekend, you’ve got to plan 4th of July games for kids to play. Otherwise, they’ll drive you nuts! This one only requires a few items — empty cans, rubber bands, socks, tape, and rice.
Fill a couple of small socks with rice and tie the ends with rubber bands and patriotic ribbon. Then, cover six empty and cleaned 15-ounce cans with red, white, and blue duct tape, making sure the tape covers any sharp edges.
Set cans up in a pyramid and have kids stand several feet away. Whoever knocks down all the cans within two tries, wins!
23. Create lawn stars with marking chalk and cardboard.
Ready to put your kids to work? For this outdoor project, you can create your own stencil using construction paper to cut out a traced star. Or, just buy a large star stencil online.
Position the stencil where you’d like to decorate your lawn and use marking spray paint in different colors. Kids can join in to help spray and even make their own mini stars.
This spray is the same one used for electrical work, so it dries easily and is safe for grass. And, it withstands general weather patterns, so your stars will stay even if the weather is acting up.