By Kerrie McLoughlin

Every year when I was a kid, my parents made a huge deal about the 4th of July. The memories, photographs, sights, sounds and smells of that special day have stuck with me throughout my life. Luckily, I married a man who might love this holiday even more than I do, so we throw a major celebration every year. While this year may be a little more low-key due to current world events (think virtual and porch parades instead), it can still be a day worthy of reminiscing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Freedom. When the kids get up, it is time for some fun patriotic marching music. Then it’s time to celebrate how the USA won its freedom from England by doing a quick history lesson and sharing some highlights about the founding fathers (color some patriotic pictures you can grab free online and print some word searches or crossword puzzles). During breakfast, talk about what freedom means and why it is so important.

Food. For breakfast or brunch, start with blueberry pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Then it is pretty much a given that the late lunch/early dinner combo is going to include a barbecue! Think hot dogs, hamburgers or veggie burgers, smoked meat. Dessert ideas include a cake decorated to look like an American flag, Oreos dipped in white almond bark and decorated with red frosting and blue candy stars, and Bomb Pops!

Fun with crafts, activities, and games. Bust out those stars and stripes by gluing seven popsicle sticks together, then attach a larger popsicle stick to the left back side of that set. Paint to make a flag decoration to be waved around or stuck in the ground. You can also fill a tub with red, white, and blue water beads for some sensory fun for all ages. And it is fairly easy to take a piece of wood, cut a hole in it, create a stand for the back, and paint it and you have a game of cornhole using beanbags. For more fun, send the kids on a scavenger hunt to find festive items and give them a prize when they bring them back to you.

Fitness. Here comes the patriotic music again, and this time it includes a dance party with glo-sticks after the sun goes down. Sprinklers and slip n’ slides are staples of this holiday or jump in the backyard pool. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Fashion. You’ve got to grab some red, white, and blue gear for this day and, unlike with clothes from certain other holidays, this patriotic clothing can be worn all year long. (Although, yes, I am that mom who is guilty of wearing Christmas shirts in the summertime!) Consider giving tie-dye a shot using red and blue dye on a plain white T-shirt or other pieces of clothing!

Family and friends. If you cannot physically be with everyone this year, hop on Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime to connect with loved ones and show them what you’ve been up to on this mid-summer holiday.

Fireworks. Snappers, tiny popping confetti bottles and snakes are usually safe bets, especially in our dry desert climate. Make sure the kids are supervised and are wearing shoes. Watch a fireworks display on TV or enjoy a social-distancing fireworks display locally. Many towns are hosting drive-in type firework shows for families to enjoy from inside the car.

Kerrie McLoughlin is the seasoned mom of five. Check out their adventures at



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