Article courtesy of Parenting Teens Magazine
by Adam Richards

The Fourth of July is a special time of year when American families gather beneath the sweltering summer sun to express their patriotism by way of all-day barbeques, watermelon eating contests, and hour-long firework displays. All that may sound glorious, but let’s face it: Some Independence Day celebrations are as old as Old Glory herself.

So here are five fresh family-friendly ideas for making the most of your celebration.

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1. Try New Food.

Add some spice to your menu this year and replace the classic American barbeque staples with chili or Texan cuisine. What better way to bond with your family and neighbors than by challenging their taste buds with spice? Host a chili cook-off and set off the culinary fireworks with fresh peppers, herbs, and vegetables. But remember: Too much spice is not nice.

2. Not-so-ordinary Backyard Games.

Lawn games like horse shoes, corn hole, and Wiffle ball are fun for the whole family, but what if you want to break away from the ordinary? This year try geocaching, a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Log in at geocaching.com, search for nearby caches, and track them down with your GPS. This is a great (and free) way to exercise after a full meal and spend quality time in nature with your family.

3. Decorate.

If you’re hosting a party, it can be a hassle to prepare food, much less decorate. This year, get creative and let your desserts be the decor. If you’re going to do pastries, bake cupcakes with red, white, and blue frosting and display them like the American flag. Or use fresh fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and combine them with Cool Whip for a layered patriotic dessert. (Tip: Check online resources like pinterest.com for more ideas.)

4. Not-so-ordinary Fireworks.

Instead of dropping tons of money on dangerous fireworks that only last three seconds, spread your money out and be unique with your purchases. For example, get parachutes or Chinese lanterns (the kind that fly). They’re cheap and if you have an adventurous spirit, you can follow them in flight and catch them when they land.

5. Adopt New Traditions.

If you’re bored with your family’s yearly tradition, spend the holiday with a friend from work or with a neighboring family and adopt their method of celebrating. Whether it’s a standard barbeque or a trip to beach, it will be a good excuse to do something exciting, learn something new, and spend time with loved ones.

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