Arts & Entertainment

Homemade Holiday: 4th of July

Written by Anna Inabinet

Whether your 4th of July celebration is indoors or out, you’ll want to give it that “backyard cookout” feel. These quick and easy ideas will work just as well in your backyard, your living room, or at a park’s picnic area. Yes, it’s easier to buy all of the mass-produced decorations and food items, but if you have the time and want to make your 4th of July celebration truly unique, here are a few ideas to get your homemade holiday started.

Pinwheel straws

Why not crank up your cocktails with some homemade pinwheel straws? This project is so easy and can be done with whatever paper you have on hand, so you can customize it for any special occasion, holiday or just to liven up a dreary Monday. In this case, I’m of course going with the red, white and blue theme. Here are the simple instructions to make your own pinwheel straw embellishers. You’ll need festive paper, scissors and coordinating brads (and straws!).

  • Cut paper into 2×2 inch squares.
  • Fold each square in half diagonally each way, then unfold.
  • Cut along fold lines about 3/4 of the way to the center.
  • Fold opposite points to the middle and secure with a brad.
  • Use the brad closures to secure the pinwheel to the straw.

Lighted garland

These days, no homemade celebration is complete without a garland or bunting. This one could not be easier. Red, white and blue fabric scraps (or ribbon), plus a string of white Christmas lights equals a beautiful garland by day and lovely lighting when the sun sets and fireworks come out. Just tie the fabric strips (or ribbon) in knots for the length of the string of lights. Yep, that’s it!

Mason jar oil lamps

These are a fabulous idea for outdoor parties in the hot summertime. Just fill a jar (doesn’t have to be an old Mason jar, but they are pretty cool) with olive oil, drill or puncture a hole in the top, and insert a strip of 100 percent cotton material. To make them even better, fill the jars with citronella oil to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Or make them even cuter by spray painting the jar lids red, white and blue for your homemade 4th of July! Complete instructions and photos can be found here via Putitinajar.com.

Patriotic popsicles

Looking for something for the kiddos? Patriotic popsicles are the perfect mid-afternoon treat. Follow these instructions at Babble.com for the popsicles, but only use red and blue. Yummy, easy, cute and refreshing on those hot July days. 

Lighted garland, take 2

I totally love this idea from totallyloveit.com. Decorate small paper cups with scrapbook paper to fit your 4th of July theme (or buy red, white and blue cups). Add a string of white lights and you have a totally lovely garland of lights to help you celebrate well into the night.

Easy, no-drip ice

This is another super simple idea that can be easily tailored to any homemade holiday. For your homemade 4th of July, fill red, white and blue balloons with water and freeze. Use them in coolers or drink buckets to keep your beverages chilled. Your guests will have ice cold drinks without the drippy mess that melting ice makes. And, most importantly, it looks festive.

Serious sparklers

If you’re feeling extra ambitious (and brave), you can follow these instructions for making your own sparklers. Personally, I’m sticking to the store-bought variety. Crafts, I can do. Science projects, not so much.

Food and drink

All of the usual suspects have amazing roundups of menu ideas specifically tailored to the 4th of July. Real Simple has everything from pies and cobblers to spritzers and fizzes to keep your guests indulging in red, white and blue treats all day and night.

Martha Stewart even has a drink called The Firecracker. Like most of Martha’s projects, it involves a little more than just pouring and stirring, but it’s sure to be delicious.

Make memories

What good is all of his homemade fun if you’re not going to capture it all on camera? Before July 4th rolls around, read up on nighttime photography tips and some basics about photographing fireworks. This way you can enjoy the fun without fretting over how to use your camera. 

And speaking of Martha, she has a great idea for making July 4th glow stick photographs, which is a lovely, patriotic version of painting with light. This is a great project to get the kids involved in, and let them get creative.

Making your 4th of July celebration a homemade holiday is easy! Just a few handmade touches will set your day apart from everyone else and your guests will think you are an amazing hostess. Most importantly, choose ideas that you love and that you will find enjoyable and easy so you can join in the celebration, too!

About the author

Anna Inabinet

After studying English and journalism in college, Anna worked as a writer in many capacities, but, in 2006, she left that all behind to pursue her other passion -- photography. Along the way, Anna also added graphic design to her repertoire. Having established herself as a freelance photographer and graphic designer, she's inching her way back into the writing field.

Anna, her husband and her two babies -- well, cats -- recently relocated from Chicago to her home state of Georgia. When she's not photographing or designing, she is re-learning how to be a proper Southern lady. Her list of loves is long: books, peanut butter, travel, junky antique stores, coffee, flea markets, buying (and sometimes using) craft supplies, board games, colorful Sharpies, anything that can be cooked in a slow cooker, living close to her family again, and of course hanging out with her super awesome husband and insanely furry cats. She believes life is too short to list things she hates (but she admits to strongly disliking talking on the phone, olives, and grocery shopping).

You can see Anna's work here.