• Kathie Scalf

Fourth of July Party Pairings


Thankfully Independence Day is falling on a Monday this year which means many of us will get a much needed long weekend. Whether you’re celebrating solo or with a crowd, one thing remains the same- this holiday is hot as a firecracker! The last thing anyone wants to be doing is slaving over a hot oven all day when they could be cooling their heels in a body of water. The name of the July 4th game is “simplicity,” and that’s the kind of ideas I’ve gathered for you here; quick and easy party pairings you can throw together to max out every moment of your extended holiday!

The most important aspect to the Fourth of July is finding a body of water. Whether you’re hitting the lake, a swimming hole, or a pool, you simply must have access to refreshing h2o. If you don’t have any of the above or know someone that does, go buy a $15 kiddie pool and sling it in the backyard. There’s no shame in chilling close to home, eating freeze pops and soaking your feet in a plastic baby pool. In fact, you’ll probably be the envy of all your sweaty neighbors who wish they’d thought of it sooner. Wherever you end up floating, make sure to pack your sunscreen, a waterproof speaker and your most important accessory- confidence! It’s time to realize no one cares about how you look in a swimsuit and it’s much too hot for self-doubt. Ditch the cover up and sun your buns with the same enthusiasm as a runway model!

Next up-what are we going to eat? Every year I simply must have one hot dog and a slice of watermelon on the Fourth; it’s as much a tradition for me as turkey at Thanksgiving. So obviously I suggest a weenie roast! Load up on burgers and dogs, set out all the fixins’ and buns, fire up the grill and let everyone dress their own. It’s hard to find people who don’t like one or the other. Sides can be as easy or as complicated as you like. Things like coleslaw and potato salad can be bought pre-made in any market, or you can toss together your own family recipe for cheap. Baked beans are my favorite, and you can dress up the canned versions by mixing them with diced onions in a dish and layering with strips of bacon and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Pop them in the oven ‘til heated through and the bacon is cooked and people will think you spent hours preparing them homemade. A variety of bagged chips are a simple and affordable must, and while you’ve got the grill burning, toss on a few ears of corn. I put mine in to cook inside the husk, then shuck them and dress with butter, salt and pepper. A standard watermelon is hard to beat, but if you’re looking to dress it up a bit, I like to make skewers with equal size squares of watermelon and feta cheese, alternating each with a fresh mint leaf in between. A sprinkle of sea salt and you have a gourmet side that’s both sweet and salty. For dessert, I love a freezer full of old school ice pops. There’s something so nostalgic about this kid friendly classic, that even an old lady like me still feels like a youngin’ when I eat them. I also think there’s no holiday more fun for dessert options than Independence Day. I love to make a strawberry poke cake, top it with a cool whip vanilla icing and then decorate it like a flag using fresh strawberries and blueberries. Cupcakes, or even a build-your-own-sundae bar would be a hit with company of all ages!

Finally, when it comes to drinks, it’s all about thirst-quenching refreshment; nothing heavy, creamy or hot please! With the ready-to-drink cocktail and seltzer market booming, there’s no shortage of assorted canned options out there. Fill a big cooler with fruit forward canned libations and a mix of more traditional beers. Keep a separate cooler full of non-alcoholic options if you’re going to have young children around and stock it with bottled and flavored seltzer waters, Capri Sun and electrolyte filled sports drinks. If you’re in the mood for real cocktails, no one wants to be bogged down making glass after glass. Batch a big carafe full of basic margaritas or sangria and you can add flavorings and garnishes on the side for people to adjust to their own taste. A variety of fruits, herbs and flavored syrups can elevate the most simple of cocktails to gourmet in an instant. If you’re serving wine, keep it light and chilled. Look for budget friendly grapes like Vinho Verde and Albarino if you’re wanting to expand your horizons out of the same old pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. And of course a bubbled rose garnished in a glass with a fresh strawberry and blueberry is not only delicious but also seasonally appropriate.

There you have it, my essentials to the perfect long July 4th weekend. Grab a pack of sparklers and smooch someone under the fireworks. And if you’re single like me, smooch one of your pets. Even better! Happy Independence Day everyone!