When I was a child, my parents used to have these huge picnics on 4th of July. Everyone was invited. My parents spent weeks prior to the party cleaning, shopping and preparing enough food to fill our two refrigerators. My father worked the grill all day and my mother worked in the kitchen sending food out to the backyard and cleaning the platters that were coming in. It took a least a week to clean up the house and put it back to normal.
Now- a- days my sisters and I don’t seem to have the time for a huge BBQ nor do we wish to work that hard, but I missed those holiday picnics, so I decided to start my own holiday tradition for the 4th of July. Equipped with some organizing skills and a good imagination, I have planned a party that takes a lot less hard work. Here’s how:
I’m lucky. I live on a public park and every year on the 3rd of July our borough plans a wonderful fireworks display. So we invite everyone over for our “Ice Cream & Fireworks Party” which starts at 7pm. The invitations go out one month prior to the party. The preparations begin by defrosting and eating all the contents from the freezer. This is also a good time to scrub the freezer. Shopping is done over the course of the next few weeks by watching for coupons on popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, water ice as well as other ice cream novelties. Every week I check for sales on the five gallons of ice cream I will need. The week prior to the party my family and I form an assembly line in the kitchen. We collect all of our drinking glasses, the juice glasses are the perfect size. We create delicious ice cream sundaes such as traditional, caramel, cookie crumbles and blondie sundaes. We cover them with plastic wrap and label them. They are then layered with small pieces of cardboard in the freezer.
On the day of the party I set up the drink station with iced tea, lemonade, soda, an ice bucket and cups. I put a cute red bucket of spoons and a cute red bucket of napkins on the dining room table. Helpful hint: buy all your paper products in red. Red can be used for your New Year’s party, birthdays, Valentine ’s Day, Christmas, memorial day, labor day and of course 4th of July. I put a huge teak bowl on the table for the ice cream novelties, the toys go outside, the pets go in the garage, the music gets turned on and we are ready!
Around 8:30 my helpers and I huddle in the kitchen. We top each sundae off with whipped cream, cherries, jimmies and a mint leaf. I carry them into the dining room on trays and place them around the big bowl of novelties. Now is the time to try not to get run over by the mad rush to the ice cream. After ice cream our guests are adorned with the neon jewelry that my husband loves to purchase for our guest, and we take our places on the deck with blankets and chairs that our guests know to bring.
After the fireworks the children usually raid the freezer for one more sundae. While I say goodbye to our fifty guests and direct traffic off our tiny street, my friends help me out by tossing the trash for me. A quick wipe down on the table and a wet swift of the floors and this party is over until next year.
Don’t think of the holidays as being so daunting with all the shopping, cooking and cleaning. Keep it simple. Start early, create your own traditions. You too can entertain without wearing yourself out or putting a big dent in your budget.