It’s almost here. Can you believe it? Just as we were gearing up for Spring, along came Summer and the 4th is right around the corner. In the Pacific Northwest, we like to say that Summer doesn’t officially start until after the 4th of July. The past few years we’ve seen plenty of sun and long warm nights leading into the holiday, but this year has given us a more cloudy lead-in to the firework extravaganza. Wednesday (the Fourth is unfortunately mid-week this year) will hopefully be a great day to go outside.
We are at least, looking forward to a day or at least evening of getting to enjoy some sun, time with friends and family, and the general festivities. It’s a holiday during peak summer weather with most celebrations being focused on the outdoors, especially around pools, parks and backyards. Heading into this celebratory time, we wanted to share some pointers on having a wonderful, memorable outdoor experience on your Independence Day this year.
- Make sure your grill is clean and ready for the big day. There’s no doubt that the Fourth is a favorite for grilling and July is National Grilling Month. Take a few minutes this weekend to clean up the area around your grill and make sure you’ve got the cooking grates clear of excessive debris.
- Quick Cleaning. Give the whole deck area a quick cleaning or once-over inspection so you can be sure that your yard is ready for the anticipated influx of friends, children, and pets. A well-kept backyard is also a great way to impress your guests and tell them that you were looking forward to them coming over to celebrate.
- Stock up on meat (or your favorite meat substitute). Don’t forget to add your favorite grilling meats to your grocery list sooner rather than later. With everyone thinking about flavorful hamburgers, juicy hot dogs, and tender chicken it’s in your best interest to stock up before the night before.
- Try a fun corn recipe. As far as side dishes on the grill, it’s hard to go wrong with corn, especially for outdoor eating occasions. It is fairly self-contained as well as pre-portioned. Cooking it with salt, pepper, and butter is the age-old standby; however, adding some accent spices or experimenting with cooking in and out of the husk could bring a layer of flavor to the golden vegetable.
- Include fresh fruit on the table. Fresh fruit is healthy option to have on the table, with a high water content to subtly help with hydration. Strawberries and blueberries make a great addition to any dessert dish, or can be served fresh (and are easy to plate with a dynamic visual effect). Another great fruit to include this time of year is watermelon.
- Bring on the colorful food. Food should be fun–especially on a holiday. Check out this list of awesome red, white, and blue deliciousness to make your backyard the go-to for the neighborhood party.
- Decorate. Take some time to prep your outdoor area. Paper lanterns, string lights, and flags are summer favorites. Add in some celebratory color. For those that find most red, white, and blue color schemes to be a bit overwhelming, check out the modern, coordinated colors of the Montlake FadeSafe Collection–pairing a Heather Indigo cushion with an Antique Beige umbrella can liven up your patio subtly. There are some particularly patriotic options for steel and wooden hammock+stand combos.
- Stay Hydrated. Seriously. Even if you’re spending time in and around the water, your body still needs to have liquids replenished. Water should be the focus throughout the day, especially when you have anything alcoholic planned for the evening.
- Make sure your patio has options for shade. Summertime sunshine is hopefully in your local forecast for the Fourth. While the light is always welcome, keep in mind the heat and potential harm from UV rays. Make sure you have a sport/sweat resistant sun screen on hand. Sun screen is a must for your skin, but adding an umbrella to your patio goes a long way, especially ones with high UPF ratings. Montlake Umbrellas have a UPF rating of 50.
- Take some time to review firework safety. It’s one of the highlights of the evening, gathering together with your friends and family to watch a grand display or put on one of your own. It’s a night of light displays, sparklers, rockets, and more. However, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind general safety for fireworks, as well as local regulations and fire bans in the area. Be sure to take extra care when handling any kind of firework on your own, and be aware of the risks of firework smoke inhalation.
Have fun. Regardless of the amount of time you may or may not have off, be sure to spend whatever time you do have with your friends and family.
Be safe and make it a great celebration.