Have a Patriotic Picnic!

By Penny Warner

Party expert Penny Warner shares some sparkling ideas for the Fourth

Our nation’s “birthday” is coming up – a time to celebrate freedom, family and the flag. Turn your picnic or barbeque into a red, white and blue blast, with fireworks, fiery food and family fun. You can hold the picnic at the park, in your backyard or at a place near your local fireworks display. Here are some ideas for throwing a patriotic celebration the whole clan can enjoy.

Happy Fourth of JulyWear Your Patriotic Picnic Attire

  • Get into the spirit by dressing the part. You have lots of options when it comes to costumes. Before you know it, you be ready to wave the flag.

  • Paint each others faces with non-toxic, washable face paints. Let the kids paint their parents (and each other) in red, white and blue stars, stripes and mini flags. Add glittery stickers for a sparkly effect.

  • Make Statue of Liberty-inspired crowns, sprinkle them with glitter, and wear them along with crepe paper sashes. Or make Uncle Sam hats and wear them with red shirts and blue, striped pants.

  • Come dressed as a patriot from the past, such as Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, or George and Martha Washington.

Boy and FlagFly the Flag and Colors

  • No matter where you host the party, make it festive with red, white and blue balloons, streamers, banners and swags. Tie helium-inflated balloons to the picnic tables, wrap the streamers around trees, and hang banners and swags along the fence or between two trees. For added fun, fill the balloons with sparkly confetti and let the kids pop them.

  • Fill clear bowls with red, white and blue flowers or food in patriotic colors. Some ideas include strawberries, blueberries, and mini-marshmallows or whipped topping, or candies in matching colors, such as jellybeans or M&Ms. Anything red, white and blue will work!

  • Set the table with a picnic theme, using red-and-white checkered tablecloths, accented with blue plates, napkins and cups. Or, cover the table with a white paper tablecloth, provide red and blue crayons, and let the kids decorate the cloth with stars, sparklers, flags and flowers. Sprinkle the table with confett i, small American flags, or silver stars.

  • Play American marching music and anthems in the background, and then have a sing-along while you wait for the fireworks to begin.

Family Fun

Make American history come alive and celebrate our country with a few fun games and activities.

  • Let the kids make their own American flags using white cotton handkerchiefs. Tape the hankies to the table to keep them steady, and then offer the kids markers in red and blue to decorate their flags. Att ach the finished flags to dowels and wave them in the air.

  • Play Capture the Flag. Have the kids place their flags on either side of the yard or play area. On the word go, see who can capture the other one flag first. Or, make it a treasure hunt by hiding small American flags around the area, and let the kids try to find them all.

  • Hand out water balloons and let the kids cool off by tossing them at each other. Or, have the family form a circle, fill a balloon with water and insert a pin to create a small hole. Pass the balloon around the circle as fast as you can until the balloon is empty. The last one holding the empty balloon loses, while everyone gets a litt le wet!

  • Play Volleyballoon. Blow up a balloon, toss it up in the air and take turns trying to keep it up. Or, string a rope across the area, divide into equal teams and play volleyball with balloons.

  • Let the kids decorate white helium-inflated balloons with red and blue markers to look like flags. Tie them around the area and let them fly.

Picnic Fare

July 4th CookiesMake your food double as decorations:

  • Serve the strawberry, blueberry and whipped topping dessert you made as a decoration.

  • Keep guests quenched with red cranberry or blue fruit punch drinks. Freeze blueberries in ice cubes and add them to the drinks.

  • Make a flag snack platter by arranging cut up fruit (strawberries, blueberries), bread (white, sourdough ), and cheese (jack, Swiss) in a flag or star design.

  • Let the kids make cookies using a star-shaped cookie cutter. Decorate them with blue icing and top with red sprinkles.

  • Scoop out a half of a watermelon and refill it with fruit, punch or raspberry sherbet dotted with chocolate chips to look like a watermelon.


Penny Warner has more than 25 years experience as an author and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. She is a contributor to