Monday, July 8, 2013

Party Time! Excellent!

3 years, 2 months, and some days ago, we moved into our current home.  3 years and 4 days ago, we realized that we would be hosting a 4th of July party every following year for as long as this house is our home.  See, there's a lovely park just across from the end of our street, about 1/4 of a mile away.  It just so happens that "our" park is where the city holds its Independence Day festivities, and where they set off the big fireworks display.  We have a perfect view of the fireworks from our yard, without the headache of an entire city's worth of people crowded around us.

Although I love hosting parties, our < 1,000 square foot, single bathroomed house just doesn't lend itself well to holding lots of people.  And no, the 'I' in that last sentence should not have been a 'we'.  Husband and 6 y.o., while both being fun-loving, happy, friendly guys, do not much care for large social gatherings.  Therefore, most of our holiday and family get-togethers are hosted by others.

Since it is usually only once a year that I get to throw a party, I tend to want to cram in everything I can think of to make it fabulous.  One year, I made and hung a photo backdrop and provided patriotic-themed props for pictures.
He must love me a lot.
This year, I got new props.

I love cooking and baking, and I think red, white and blue are fun colors for themed food and drinks.  Especially in the Summer, when strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, raspberries, marshmallows, whipped cream, and cherries are abundant.  Two years ago, I served red, white and blue adult sno-cones.  Yes, they turned into super-sweet purple vodka drinks with tiny chunks of ice, but they started out pretty!

Last year, the specialty drink served was a watermelon margarita, made with homemade watermelon syrup, smooth silver tequila, sweet-n-sour mix and fresh lime juice.  This year's concoction was simpler.  I added pureed fresh strawberries to lemonade, and set a bottle of citrus vodka next to the dispenser for me guests to add if desired.

Happy Birthday USA cake.  And, a light saber.
Some of the foods I'm most proud to have served are: Apple pie trifle, American flag fruit-n-treat skewers, homeslavedmade white chocolate ice cream with strawberry sauce, and the cake pictured above.  Inside was a blue layer and a red layer.  This year, Husband bravely grilled the chicken wings that I had bravely (and successfully!) gotten chopped up by the friendly guy from the supermarket's meat department.  They were delicious, and a great addition to the giant spread of food we had (beef burgers, turkey burgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, potato salad, corn on the cob, chips and dips, cherry cobbler, and fruit).

The big fireworks show doesn't start until after 9:00 p.m., so we find other ways to keep ourselves and our guests busy.
Sparklers and grocery store fireworks


Football throwing
Not pictured: patriotic sugar cookie decorating (a.k.a. "I bet I can put more frosting on a cookie than you can!") and the educational games.  I've found it difficult to live up to the first party's trivia/scavenger hunt competition during the subsequent two parties.  That year, I numbered and laminated cards with different sorts of questions on American history.  I then hid the cards around the house and yard, and the guests were tasked with finding all the cards quickly (1 prize) and answering the most questions correctly (another prize).  I also reworded the Declaration of Independence, separated it onto several laminated cards, and had the kids search for and then put the words in the correct order.  I'm still pretty impressed with myself.

This year, I hung an un-labeled U.S. map on the wall, with States and Capitals stickers that could be re-positioned.  Teams of 3 people had 1 minute, then 30 seconds, then 10 seconds to get as many stickers as possible into the right spots.  It wasn't a very popular game.  But, when nobody was playing, I was able to get all the capitals into the right spots, without the names of the states on the map, and only needed a tiny bit of help from my dad (I always think Wisconsin is Minnesota.  Not that it matters, much.  Other than that day, I don't think I've ever needed to know which one is which.)

Choosing a special dress for Baby has been fun the past 2 years, also.

It's the only night of the year that we allow 6 y.o. to stay up way past his 7:30 bedtime.  Last year, he started crying as soon as the fireworks show ended, and couldn't stop crying or get any words out.  This year, he handled himself a little bit better, but still seemed totally dazed by about 8:45.

Turns out, I do a bad job of taking pictures of the actual fireworks.  4 years of bombs bursting in air, and I could only find the one half-decent pic up there ^.  You'll have to trust me that it's a good show.  Even Baby enjoyed it!  She doesn't like loud noises ("Sorry, Husband.  I just couldn't vacuum today.  Baby didn't want me to.  She was scared of the 'wowed'.") so we were worried that she'd cry like her brother after 9 p.m., but she didn't shed a single tear.
Just in case there was any doubt re: my photography skills.
Unsolicited advice of the day?  1. It's okay to stop trying to do things you're obviously bad at (*cough* fireworks photos *cough*) after a while.  You're good at other things.  2.  Make sacrifices for those you love, like Husband does for me at least every July all the time.  3.  Be a tradition-setter.  When my kids have grown up, I want them to reminisce about the traditions they loved, and I want there to be no shortage of happy memories, holiday and otherwise.  Those "remember the time..." conversations are much more valuable than pictures of sparkly lights.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?  

Be honest- at least a little part of you is wondering about my marathon training, right?  You kinda wish this post had been about running, don't you?


  1. It sounds like a very fun party. There is not much better than a private location with a great view of fireworks.
    For the record: I would have loved your map on the wall game. Maybe I'll make one for us (me.)