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Family Fun on the Fourth

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My family’s Fourth of July gatherings always consisted of burgers, potato chips, so much red soda that your stomach hurt by the end of the day, and an amazing sunburn. Hey, my red skin came in useful when I wore a white t-shirt and jean shorts. I was totally patriotic. Red, white, and blue, baby!


But if you are looking for a couple of new, fun ideas to keep your kids entertained during this year’s festivities, try these:


Make decorated patriotic T-shirts.


There are two options here—the time-honored classic tie-dye T-shirt or the more updated sponge-painted tee. In both cases, start with a plain white T-shirt.


  • To tie-dye, roll or scrunch up the shirt and secure with rubber bands. Make sure the bands are tight! Mix up red and blue dye in two different buckets following the instructions on the package (RIT Dye works well and can be found at most craft stores). Then, dip the shirt in the dyes. The longer you leave the shirts in, the darker the color. Let the shirts dry (with the bands on). When dry, remove the bands and enjoy!


  • For a sponge-painted shirt, buy puffy paint or any fabric-safe paint at your local craft store (or Target, for example). Also, pick up some sponges. There are several possible approaches here: you can cut out star-shaped sponges (to use as stamps) and print in red and blue all over the shirt; you can cut out stars from cardboard and sponge around/over them (leaving white stars); or you can go free-form and sponge all over the shirt for a funkier effect.




Make fun fringe flip-flops.


  • Take a plain pair of flip-flops (you choose the color) and tie ribbon—red, white, and blue, of course—to the plastic part. Cut the ribbons—on an angle so they don’t unravel—to desired length and tie close together. It looks like fringe.




Sandy layers.


  • You’ll need clean sand, food coloring (red and blue), Ziploc bags, clear glass jars with lids, and cheap, disposable foil cooking pans for this one. Dye the sand by putting it in a Ziploc bag and adding food coloring. Shake until the color is uniform. Spread out in a foil pan and let dry in the sun. Then, layer in a glass jar, alternating colors. You can even decorate the top by using puffy paint and tying a festive ribbon around it.




Have a bike parade.


Decorate bikes using streamers, flags, balloons, crate paper—anything! Be creative! Then, have all the kids line up and have a parade before the fireworks.


I think all of these ideas would work best if you got a lot of kids together … or did a block party thing with your neighbors. My friend Allison raddled these ideas off like it was nothing. Clearly, her Fourth of July party is going to rock!

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