Well shucks. The 4th of July comes in the middle of the week this year. That kind of takes the "independence" out of Independence Day, don't you think? We don't have a lot of prep time and many of us can't make a late night of it. I know I work the next day while my son goes off to day camp.
But you can still have a fantastic 4th! We just need to scale back a bit and do a little planning. Here's how to pull off a mid-week 4th of July celebration without losing your cool.
Plan and shop tonight. Maybe you can push the shopping one more day, but definitely figure out everything you need today: dishes, grocery list, supplies, basic schedule.
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Basic schedule. I think the more you plan every last minute, the more things go wrong, so keep it simple and flexible. Maybe you're going to a parade around 10:00 a.m. followed by a picnic: Have everything packed and ready to go before you leave for the parade.
Paper, paper, paper. Normally I try to avoid using disposable anything, but this year? I'm off the eco-friendly hook. Get more than you think you'll need -- you'll always end up using the extras eventually. Definitely get this before the 4th.
Make it potluck. If you're getting together with friends try and share the cooking with them. If you have hero/martyr tendencies: Look yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, "This year I will be a slacker, make my friends help, and it will be all right."
What to grill? Keep it simple. This is not the 4th for slow barbecue -- stick with burgers, dogs, and steaks.
Easy sides. Make your two easiest sides, the ones you can make in your sleep, and make them the night before if you can. Maybe corn on the cob and a tossed salad. (You can grill the corn, by the way -- shuck it the night before.)
Dessert. This year I'm thinking watermelon or ice cream. I am so not baking a pie or doing a crumble.
Pack the night before. If you're planning to celebrate at the park or somewhere else, pack as much as you can the night before (including soccer balls, picnic blankets, cutlery, sparklers, etc.) so you can just go the next day.
Plan an hour for clean-up. Say you're doing a cookout followed by fireworks. Keep an eye on the clock, and an hour before you plan to leave (if fireworks are in a different location), have your kids pick up all the garbage and throw it all out while you put everything else in two main groups: Perishables that need to go right back into the refrigerator as soon as you get home and non-perishables you can stow for two days and put away over the weekend.
Last-minute 4th of July recipes. If you're looking for ideas, Lindsay has a bunch today at Cafe Johnsonia.
How are you planning to celebrate the 4th of July?
Image via Lisa Padilla/Flickr