Do you want to create memorable 4th of July traditions that your children will never forget? Then read on, for I’m here to tell you what we have done for the past 13 years. Our children enjoy the 4th of July almost if not as much as they enjoy Christmas!
I will warn you, creating traditions sometimes requires hard work and time. This is one of those times. But the lessons your children will learn and the memories they will keep from this are timeless.
13 years ago we called together a small group of friends and invited them to my in-law’s house for a 4th of July gathering. My husband and brother in law are very patriotic and love history, and they thought it would be nice to actually remember our forefathers and the history of our nation on the 4th, instead of it just being a day for a cookout and fireworks.
Never fear. We do the cookout and fireworks, we just add a lot more to it!
We started small that first year, but now we have grown to around 100 people that come each year, friends invite friends, and it’s a super fun day!
Here is the outline of the day, in detail of what we do.
We normally open the day with a flag raising ceremony. My Mother in law has a flag pole that we all gather around, and it’s pretty official looking. Two young men open the flag up, trying to follow proper protocol, and raise the flag. One year we had a mom play taps on her trumpet, other times a patriotic song is being sung.
Then we have the cannons shooting off. Yes, we have a real live cannon that a dad made and brings each year! Don’t worry if you don’t have a cannon. We started small without visions of cannons and flag raisings. 🙂
After that everyone takes their seat and it’s time for the skit that has been prepared! Some years there is a lot of preparation and practice that goes into the skit, other years it’s thrown together last minute but still always turns out!
My mother in law is amazing at putting costumes together from thrift store finds, and she has dressed solders, presidents, reporters…the list goes on!
Little Israel years ago! I have this outfit saved for him, he wore it constantly!
Then we listen to a man that has been carefully selected to give a speech, called The Landmark Lecture. This is a very important part of the day. It’s where we remember our past, and where we came from. We honor the brave men and women who endured so much for our freedom.
The lecture is focused around the topic that has been picked for that year.
Some of our themes have been:
“Who Will Follow Washington?” Taken from a speech by Jonathon Trumbull, we asked the question as to whether or not we were the sort of Americans who would have fought alongside George Washington and whether or not that same spirit burned within us today.
“The Last Full Measure” where we remembered the turning point of the Civil War in the battle of Gettysburg and used this famous line from President Lincoln’s speech to consider our devotion to the cause of freedom.
“Building the Constitution” where we reflected on some of the most prominent figures responsible for crafting this most amazing of documents.
“Awake!” where we remembered the famous ride of Paul Revere and asked if we had eyes to see and ears to hear the many signs of opposition facing our country today.
Sean normally makes some pretty awesome signs for the event!
These lectures are amazing but we have found it’s best to keep them shorter. It’s easy for the guys to talk for quite awhile because the history is just so amazing, but the children get restless, especially if it’s hot. 20-30 minutes has been pretty succesful for us.
After the lecture we have music! It might be singing, or instrumental (we have several young people that play violin and cello, as well as adults), and we all sing patriotic hymns together as a group as well. I love this part of the day!
Time To Eat!
By now everyone is hungry and ready to eat! We have tables and tables of food that everyone brings. The guys will BBQ hotdogs and hamburgers, and the ladies bring side dishes of baked beans, corn casserole, salads, fruit, chips, and so many yummy desserts.
Time To Play!
We bring volleyball nets for the adults and teenagers to play (I’m scared to death of balls so I never play), and those who don’t want to play sit under the shade trees and visit. The children play on bunker hill (just a small mound of dirt that they have called bunker hill for years now) and you wouldn’t believe the collection of toy guns and swords that they have! Last year a train was made for the event! Yes, you read that right! The same man that made the cannons welded together a train that fits on a riding mower. Oh the younger children had SO much fun with that!
Some years we have water balloon fights and more organized activities.
We never do fireworks at the event, normally people start to pack up and leave around 5:00 and go to a local event that puts on a great display.
Our children look forward to this day all year long! This year we are doing a World War 1 theme, and it’s been fun finding music to fit that theme! We are all humming Over There, Over There and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary over here these days. 🙂 I’m trying to forget hearing the song Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. Oh my!
What to Wear to the 4th of July gathering?
Of course I’m going to mention clothing. 🙂 I love seeing all the red, white, and blue that everyone shows up in! Many years I’ll wear my Rainbow Denim Skirt and a red or blue top.
Last year I found some of the shirts on ThredUP, and my mother in law always helps put outfits together as well.
I’ve seen some cute patriotic shirts out in the stores right now! Here are a few resources.
City Streets Short Sleeve Graphic Tee – I bought my husband the red shirt to wear this year! You can’t beat the price.
Comfort Stretch Poplin Shirt – If your guy wants to be a little more dressed up, there is a red plaid option!
St. John’s Bay Americana Short Sleeve Tee – Some more options for patriotic tees!
Stars Shirt – This looks like a cute shirt!
St. John’s Bay V-Neck Shirts – Red Stripes, Starts, and more!
If you want to be fancy on the 4th, this Navy maxi dress with white polka dots is super cute!
Here is a nice flag shirt for Junior sizes.
Okie Dokie Boys Shirt – I like the stars shirt!
Americana Peplum Tank Top – I just saw these last night in the store and loved them! If I didn’t already have a shirt for Carrianna I would have gotten her this, and she could have worn a short sleeve Halftee under it!
Americana Raglan Tee– Another good option for size 7-16!
And of course I always wear a patriotic flexi clip in my hair!
This was a hairstyle I did a few years ago, using one of my favorite patriotic clips that have been released so far.
But I have exciting news!
Lilla Rose is releasing the July Flexi of the Month clip today, so you have time to get it for your own 4th of July gathering. And they are offering some great sales to go along with the release! All the previous patriotic styles have been brought back, so you have a large selection to choose from!
I hope this inspired you with some new ideas for how to celebrate the 4th of July! I’d love to hear what traditions you have already established for this day!