On this Independence Day, share great food, games and laughs with those you hold near and dear. Keep it simple and fun to guarantee your enjoyment, too — rather than running around all day trying to be the world’s most magnificent host or hostess.
Involve family and friends in the preparation. Delegate and dismiss. After passing off a task to others, erase it from your mind. Request that guests bring a healthy, bright and colorful dish. Complement the cuisine with red, white and blue disposable plates and cutlery.
Now let’s get to the important stuff: dessert on the Fourth! In the morning, get your crew together to assemble the dessert. Set up the assembly line with small clear plastic cups, nonfat plain yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and maybe shredded coconut and chopped walnuts. Layer yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries, and top with yogurt. Throw optional items into the layers as desired.
Place on a platter in the refrigerator and presto — done!
Make a big pitcher of a yummy watermelon mocktail so everyone can partake, and hide a few libations for the adults to sprinkle into their glasses. Throw the flesh of a small watermelon into the blender, add one-half of a peeled seedless cucumber, and blend to juice. Pour into pitcher with one pint of club soda and the juice of four lemons. Put a bucket of ice on the side, and you’re done.
Light wine is a favored beverage for this holiday. Commission the guys to fill a couple of steel (or plastic) beverage bins with ice. Open bottles of champagne, rosé, and a couple of different white wines. Place plastic cups, club soda, and wedged lemons and limes next to the bins — all self serve!
Next, send someone to dust off the bocce balls. Bocce is an entertaining game that has lost its luster over the years. It’s fun — go for it! Even the kids can play.
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Water-balloon dodge ball, anyone? Everyone has a ton of fun just filling the balloons — never mind the game.
The key is to create a very casual, fun, and do-as-you-like atmosphere. The elements of great food, drink, light activity and spending time with people are what’s important. Put a “cell phone-free environment” sign on a basket at the front door for all cell phones.
Circumstances may dictate that a guest may need to check a phone, of course. However, the vibe of the party will diminish if all or most of your guests have their phones out the entire time. These intimate gatherings offer an opportunity to disconnect from technology and connect with those you care about and may not see often.
There may be a guest or two who may have an issue with your house rule. Gently take these individuals aside and explain the motivation behind the movement. If they’re your friend, they’ll respect your wishes and at the end of the day be grateful they were “disconnected” from the stress of technology for even a little while.
Assign someone to blow up the kiddie pool and fill with water. As a gracious host, have towels available for all, of course. To make life super simple, hire a sitter to keep a watchful, careful eye on the little ones as they enjoy their fun in the sun and you enjoy some downtime with your guests.
As the sun starts to set and your group goes into relaxation mode before the fireworks, plan a couple of quality time activities. Share stories of holidays past, ask everyone to reveal an unknown fact about themselves, share what you’re grateful for — and then watch the sky light up with the beautiful magic of lights and sounds for this Fourth of July.
Based in Boynton Beach, Florida, Christine King is founder and CEO of Your Best Fit, a health and wellness company that provides fitness, nutrition, and design and management services for individuals, private clubs, luxury communities, and corporations.