Fun July 4th Ideas!

Celebrate July 4th with this collection of great games, decorations, crafts, recipes, and more -- all perfect for an Independence Day party!

  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    Straw-Spangled Wreath

    Print our template for the center (see below) on card stock. Cut out the circle, then trace it twice on corrugated cardboard. Cut out both circles. Make several rings of tacky glue on one cardboard circle and attach striped paper straws, alternating red and blue and leaving 2 inches of space in the center. Thread a 1-inch straw piece onto a long length of fishing line or string and knot the ends. Attach the straw piece with tacky glue to the center of the cardboard circle. Add rings of glue over the straws and gently press on the other cardboard circle. Let the glue dry. With a glue stick, attach the card stock center. Trim the straws to different lengths as shown. Hang with the fishing line.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    United We Stand Game

    A steady hand leads to success in this carnival-inspired challenge, in which players try to set a bottle upright using a ring on a string.

    Use red and blue washi or decorative tape to embellish two 18-inch wooden dowels (we cut a 3-foot dowel in half), 2 cleaned and dried plastic bottles (we used 12-ounce soda bottles) and both rings of a 3-inch embroidery hoop (we bought ours at a craft store for $2.50). Use one color for each 3-piece set. Tie each hoop to its matching dowel with a 28-inch length of string. Place 1/2 cup rice in each of 2 ziplock bags. Add 12 drops red food coloring to one, blue to the other. Seal each bag and shake until the rice is evenly tinted. Snip off a corner of each bag and funnel the rice into its matching bottle. Screw on the caps.

    To play: Mark spaces on a flat playing surface with child-size hula hoops or use chalk to draw two 24-inch circles. Lay a bottle in the center of each. At "Go," players use their rods to right their bottles. If a player's bottle rolls out of the circle, he must retrieve it and start over. The first to stand his bottle up wins.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • July 4th Patriotic Pops
    July 4th Patriotic Pops

    Patriotic Pops

    Using cookie cutters makes it easy for kids to help prepare these star-shaped treats. For the best results, choose fruit that's firm and not too ripe.

    For each pop, cut a 1-inch-thick slice of watermelon into a star shape with a large star cookie cutter (ours is a 3-inch size), then cut out its center with a smaller star cutter (ours is 1 3/4-inch size). Use the small cutter again to shape a 1-inch-thick slice of apple. Cut a small hole in the center of the apple slice and place a blueberry inside. Assemble the fruit pieces as shown, then slide them onto a bamboo skewer. For added flair, cover the skewer with a paper straw.

    Idea by

    Originally published in the June/July 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    Mini Marching Drum

    Join the big parade or stomp around the backyard to the beat of this recycled coffee can.

    Drum: Trace a 10 1/2-inch circle on a Tyvek sheet (we used a mailing envelope) and cut it out. Lay the circle over the open end of a 27.8-ounce coffee can. Secure it about 2 inches from the rim with rubber bands. Pull the Tyvek taut and trim the excess. Use strips of clear tape to hold the Tyvek in place and remove the rubber bands. Cover the edges of the Tyvek with colored duct tape, using a single strip around the perimeter of the can. Use more duct tape to embellish the rest of the can. Measure and cut a length of ribbon for the neck strap and knot its ends. Tape the ribbon ends (just above the knots) to the side of the drum.

    Mallet: Cut the neck from a 12-inch balloon. Stuff the remaining piece with half a paper towel sheet. Squeeze a bit of white glue into the balloon and insert the tapered end of a chopstick. Secure it with a strip of duct tape and let it dry.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Star Spangled Wind Socks
    Star Spangled Wind Socks
  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    Hats Off to America

    Set up a crafting station where kids can turn plastic cups into custom caps, and creative sparks are sure to fly. Along with 18-ounce disposable cups, we put out sparkly pipe cleaners, pom-poms, card stock, glue dots, tacky glue, and tape. If you like, you can print our templates for brims below. To keep hats on heads, cut 18-inch lengths of elastic beading cord and knot the ends. Use duct tape to secure the ends, just below the knots, to the inside of the cups.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    Sweet & Salty Sparklers

    Layered with white chocolate and studded with sprinkles and M&M's, our pretzel treats add flare to any party spread. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips in a medium, heat-safe bowl according to the package directions. Use a spoon to drizzle 1 pretzel rod at a time with chocolate (you'll have enough chocolate to make a dozen), then lay the rod on the prepared sheet and scatter it with red and blue sprinkles and M&M's. Chill the pretzels in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    Red, White & Cool Cubes

    Tricolored spritzers offer a refreshing way to celebrate the Fourth. Make several trays of ice cubes with beverages colored red, white, and blue (we used cranberry juice, water, and Powerade Mountain Berry Blast). To serve, place the cubes in separate buckets and let guests make their own drinks with plain seltzer.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Laura Doss

    Air Mail Ballots

    The votes are in, and this simple flying disk game is a runaway winner. Cut a 5- by 13-inch rectangle into a cardboard box as shown (an adult's job). You'll want a box that's at least 18 by 18 by 24 inches. Cut another rectangle on the opposite side of the box for retrieving the flying disks. Seal the box with tape, then attach card stock and scrapbook paper decorations with glue dots.

    To play, designate a throwing line and give each participant three tries to toss a heavy-duty plastic plate or flying disk into the slot. The first player to score an agreed-upon number wins.

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by David Roth

    Fourth of July Confetti Popper

    This reusable popper lets you launch paper "fireworks" during Fourth of July parades and barbecues -- or wherever confetti is needed.

    1. Cut the top 2½ to 3 inches from a clean plastic bottle and discard the rest.

    2. Cover the cut edge with tape.

    3. Stretch the mouth of a party balloon over the bottle's opening. Work the neck of the balloon over the threads of the bottleneck, as shown at right.

    4. Cut paper into confetti, then pour the pieces into the popper.

    5. Hold onto the bottleneck with one hand, and pull down on the bottom of the balloon with the other. Let the balloon snap to launch a shower of confetti.

  • Photograph by David Roth, Idea by Marylea Harris

    A Star-Spangled Yard

    Give your lawn some flour power this Fourth of July with a simple stencil and a dusting of flour. Draw a star shape on cardboard and cut it out. Lay this stencil on the lawn and spray the grass with water from a spray bottle. Leaving the stencil in place, use a flour sifter to cover the damp star shape with flour. Remove the stencil and repeat to fill your yard with a galaxy of stars.

  • David Roth

    Stately Striped Wreath

    Tufts of tulle are the secret behind this easy-to-make door decoration.

    Cut 35 strips each of red and white tulle that measure about 6 by 15 inches (we started with a 2 1/4-yard piece of 54-inch-wide tulle in each color). Alternating colors every five lengths, knot the tulle strips around a 12-inch wire wreath form (A and B). Line up the knots so that they're even, then fluff the ends. Curl an 8-foot length of blue star garland by winding it around a marker. Tie the garland in two circles to the middle of the wreath with small pieces of tulle.

  • David Roth

    All-American Bandanna Garland and Place Mats

    For each place mat, apply a thin, 2-inch-wide strip of tacky glue across the center of a cloth place mat (ours is 19" x 14"). Press a white bandanna into place on top, then attach the rest with more glue; trim excess. Measure and cut three 2-inch-wide strips of red bandanna and glue them to the mat. Add a 6-inch square of blue bandanna to the top left corner. Clean with a damp cloth, as needed.

    To make a 12 1/2-foot garland, cut one red, one blue, and one white bandanna into four equal squares. Following the diagram, fold each square as shown, then iron the folds to crease them (A). Secure the two long folds with glue dots (B), then fold the remaining flap over a 12 1/2-foot-long ribbon and secure the flap with more glue dots (C).

    Ideas by Kristin Harrison of

  • David Roth

    Lady Liberty Crown

    No glue is needed for our cleverly designed head-piece made from craft foam and a headband.

    Trace our template on a 12- by 18-inch sheet of green craft foam and cut it out. Make a slit at the base of each spike where noted on the template, then thread the spikes through the openings as shown. Slide the spikes onto a thin plastic headband.

    Idea by Lynn Zimmerman

  • David Roth

    Rhythm Rousers

    Create simple quacking noisemakers, and the kids can be all abuzz at the parade.

    First, snip two 1 1/4-inch lengths from a plastic drinking straw. Stretch a wide rubber band lengthwise around a jumbo craft stick. Slide one straw piece beneath the rubber band 1 1/4 inches from one end. Lay the other straw piece on top of the rubber band 1 1/4 inches from the opposite end, as shown, then sandwich it with another craft stick. Secure the sticks with more rubber bands. Embellish the noisemaker with stickers if you like.

  • David Roth

    Rocket Toss

    Partygoers will have a blast playing this classic carnival game made from recycled metal cans and homemade "rockets."

    For the cans, adhere strips of red, white, and blue duct tape to six clean, empty 15-ounce metal cans, covering any sharp edges. For thinner lines, simply overlap the tape. To make the rockets, use a funnel to fill three small socks with rice (we used about 1/2 cup in each) and tie them off with a hair tie or a rubber band. Thread a 3-foot length of sheer ribbon through each tie and knot it in the center to secure it. To play, set up the cans in a pyramid. Standing several feet away, each player gets three tries to knock down all the cans with the rockets.

  • David Roth

    Star-spangled Parfait

    Colorful layers of flavored gelatin and whipped cream give our light and tasty dessert its banner good looks.

    For four servings, make one box each of red and blue gelatin according to the package directions. In tall, clear glasses, alternate layers of red gelatin and whipped topping (we used Cool Whip), as shown. Top with the blue gelatin. (For the fruity version on our cover, substitute raspberries and blueberries.) Finish with a slice of star fruit.

  • David Roth

    Fireworks Cookies

    Add pizzazz to a classic treat with this sizzling (and simple!) idea. Bake a batch of your favorite sugar cookies, spread with white frosting, and sprinkle on red popping candy (we used strawberry Pop Rocks) and blue sugar.

    Idea by Jessie Oleson of