I adore holidays.  I look forward to them early. In March, I envision the pumpkin patch I’ll make for Halloween, and the costumes I could wear.  In August, I daydream about taking the kids caroling for Christmas and decorating multiple trees and rolling out my grandmother’s sugar cookies.  The problem is… When October actually comes around, it’s one thing or another: not enough time or money to do what I envision, and sure, we have lovely holidays and traditions but we have yet to be THAT house on Halloween or Christmas. One day, I swear I’ll make it, but so far I haven’t and it’s probably for that EXACT reason that Independence Day is my absolute favorite holiday.

Simplicity

It’s so simple. So contained. It has parameters that leave little room for endless decor and entertainment competition.  There is one “thing” to do really: watch the fireworks, and the rest is really pretty low key, so you just need a few things to make sure it feels festive. If repeated without fail, the tradition becomes something your family looks forward to, relies on, and commits to, hard core.  These five things are obvious, but all together, they have impact and are foolproof.

5 Foolproof Ways To Celebrate

  1.  Food:  you MUST make something red, white and blue, and preferably in the shape of a flag.   This could be a sheet cake frosted in vanilla or slathered with whipped cream and dotted with blueberry stars and striped with strawberry slices.  It could be skewers of strawberries, bananas, apples, blueberries, raspberries, whatever works for the color scheme.  It could be rice krispie treats dipped in blue and red candy melts.  You can literally Pinterest yourself into the most or least complicated food situation your heart desires. But you gotta have it.  Then you have to take a picture of it to prove that it happened.
  2. Flairyou MUST wear red, white, or blue for this day. It’s extremely easy.  You have really missed the opportunity if you miss this one because it requires virtually no effort and your photos will definitely “hit different” (as the kids say) if you make your whole family pull this off.  Red. White. Blue. Any combo.  You don’t need all three. Just one!  Bonus for two! Extra bonus if stars or stripes are even involved. Cute blue and white striped tee and jeans? Red top and cut off shorts?  White tank top and bathing suit bottoms? Totally! It’s honestly not that hard (and I say this as someone who has missed this opportunity more times than I have gotten it straight… but it’s about the commitment and this is the year it’s happening, because it truly takes no forethought or preparation).  Now, if you have a legit flag worthy outfit, or like, flag flip flops,  or a bedazzled cap, you win. Instagram that all day.  
  3. FunWatermelon contest. Okay, so I am open to the TYPE of contest, but it MUST be specific to watermelon.  I may be a bit more obsessed with watermelon than most, but this is the 4th of July: you MUST have a watermelon, so you really might as well have a watermelon-centric contest.  
    1. So in the old days, it was the watermelon seed spitting contest. You would draw a target in the sand or dirt or on a piece of cardboard (as fancy or practical as you please) and start close, spitting for the target, taking a step back on each round.  That’s the classic.  Sadly, a person is hard pressed to find a watermelon with seeds these days, so this contest may have gone the way of the seeded watermelon (or you could make the first part of the contest FINDING the seeded watermelon).  
    2. Now the watermelon eating contest is the one I will win EVERY time. I can probably eat a whole watermelon in one sitting. That’s another option.  Lots of watermelon, lots of eating, a time (or capacity) limit and some extremely hydrated contestants.  Can’t go wrong.
    3. The watermelon explosion contest is a new one for me and not for the faint of heart.  You can divide into pairs with multiple watermelons or do as a large group with one.  It feels a little like Jenga to me.  Each contestant takes a turn placing a large rubber band around the watermelon like a belt down the middle, in the same exact spot. As the rubber bands stack up (you are going to need a lot of them) the pressure will build and eventually someone will add the final rubberband that will make the watermelon EXPLODE! That person wins! Or loses?  It is actually a little terrifying and a TOTAL waste of watermelon if you ask me, but a big crowd favorite!
  4.  Fireworks. This one is a given, but whatever your firework celebration entails, make it a big deal and make it dependable every year. Whether you always go to your home town’s football field with a blanket and picnic basket or watch the fireworks from a boat in the bay, or set them off in the street where it’s legal to do so, the magic is in doing it without fail.  Bringing whatever tradition you have importance by being the fireworks traditions’ own hype girl and every year get more family involved with making the tradition happen.  I love how kids latch onto the littlest traditions.  “Every year, we get all kinds of candy and popcorn to take down to the park to watch the fireworks”, “Every year, we try to make the loudest oohs and ahhs.”  Whatever it is, make it your thing. And make it hype.
  5. Family.  This one may or may not be a given, and whoever you have made your family makes this holiday’s tradition special.  Making the oohs and ahhs, decorating the cake, fiercely competing in the watermelon contest, discussing which fireworks are the best, maybe an annual sleepover with the cousins on the trampoline… the more often you make the memory, the more special it becomes. The more often you include the same people, the more intensified the memory.  It’s like an inside joke: it’s better because it’s between people.  It makes the day and the relationships more special, and let’s be real, that’s what holidays are all about.

Ready To Celebrate

So, while I may not get my Halloween Haunted House together, or make it to my ideal 5 Christmas trees this year, you can bet that my family is going to be hyped for Fourth of July and the traditions we have that make the day special.  It’s ease and simplicity makes it all the better.

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Gia is a native Californian who has lived all over the state from San Diego to Trinity County, plus Washington DC for a short time. She recently relocated to Ventura County with her family to build a compound property together with her sister’s family so that they could always share wardrobes and parenting responsibilities for their 5 combined children at home. Gia graduated from UCSB with a degree in Linguistics (which she thinks entitles her to make up words). It took her just three years, as she was eager to graduate early to go live with her long distance boyfriend and his toddler daughter at the time. That seemed to work out, as the boyfriend got promoted to husband years ago and her step-daughter promoted her to grandmother recently! Gia’s husband is from East Africa and runs their Bed and Breakfast in Tanzania from near and far. Gia is a Human Resources Director who has a major obsession with watermelon and eggnog lattes, depending on the season.

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