July Fourth is a celebration of America finding its own destiny and its own identity, which means it’s a time of celebration! This holiday is often marked by evenings watching amazing fireworks displays with friends and family. But speaking as a parent and a former sailor, there are many reason you might want to avoid those spectacular displays of light and sound. For many young children, fireworks can prove to be nerve racking and terrifying experiences, and for many veterans suffering from PTSD, fireworks and fire crackers can be a painful and difficult experience.
So this Independence Day, why don’t you try one of these four fireworks alternatives with your family!
1) Barbecue Time
Is anything more American than a summer BBQ? Grab some burgers, hot dogs,wings, and every chip-and-dip combination you can think of, invite your closest friends, chill some suitable beverages, and you have the recipe for the perfect Fourth of July.
Make sure to up the ante with some fun games for your guests. Personally, I am partial to some corn hole or spike ball, both of which are easily learned and are sufficiently challenging to really pique everyone’s competitive spirit.
2) Throw a Birthday Party
A simple barbecue not quite enough for you? Go the extra mile and turn your shindig into a birthday party for the USA. Break out the red, white, and blue icing to celebrate in style.
Go the extra mile by giving your guests an amazing patriotic goodie bag to take home – this is what Pinterest was made for. Personally, I love the idea behind the easy-to-make, sweet-treat-based flag bags at Brit + Co.
3) Honor a Veteran
If patriotism is your goal for the Fourth of July, I would suggest an activity honoring veterans. You could contact your local VA hospitals and veteran associations to see where there may be volunteer needs.
Other alternatives are to work as a family to prepare care packages for those currently on active duty. Operation Gratitude is a fantastic organization that sends over 150,000 packages yearly, and their website lists many ways that you can help. If you have a specific service member in mind, make sure you check what you can and cannot send to the country where they are deployed, and find out what their needs may be. Often a handwritten letter is the most appreciated gift of all.
4) Have a Movie Night
If you want a more home-based activity, a movie night is an excellent option. This will likely be the choice for my family in 2015, as our Great Dane is terrified of fireworks and this necessitates at least one lap is present for her to jump into.
If you are looking for movie suggestions, Forbes.com has a top 10 list for this very occasion. As cliche as it may be, I don’t think I can resist watching Will Smith save the world from aliens in Independence Day.
Let’s face it, no matter what you choose to do, July 4th is about who you’re with and how you choose to honor the birth of our nation. Get creative, get funky, let loose, and have fun, and most of all, do it your way!