The Fourth of July can be such a fun holiday to celebrate if someone else hosts a barbecue or picnic. But when you’re the one in charge, it’s hard not to keep getting up and down to accomplish certain tasks if you don’t have the right Fourth of July food hacks on hand. First of all, it’s inevitable that you’ll be hosting your party outside in at least 80-degree heat, so keeping food cold is always an issue. Another worry is that you’ll be playing bartender all night, or worse, doing dishes for hours after your guests leave. Having the extra day off—or two days this year—shouldn’t mean you should be prepping for guests the whole time. You deserve some R&R, so use these simple Fourth of July food hacks to throw a totally fun party that you'll be able to enjoy, too. Scroll down and see exactly how to do it.
Chill food the cool way.
The problem with throwing a picnic is that all of your sides will get funny after a little while (especially any type of mayo-based salads). You have two goals: that no one gets sick from food sitting out and that you don’t have to go inside to refrigerate food halfway through your party. This is an easy solve: Purchase a galvanized metal tub or large under-the-bed storage container, fill it with ice, and then lay bowls or decorative dishes with your food on top. This will keep everything chilled for much longer. Plus, it also just looks cool.
Sandwiches are key.
If you want to go the burger and hot dog route, be warned that someone will have to man the grill for most of the get-together. Instead, opt for a variety of sandwiches that you can make ahead of time (be sure to have vegetarian options as well as some gluten-free bread on hand so no one feels left out). Cut the sandwiches into manageable pieces and wrap them in parchment paper to keep them together and to make it a little less messy.
Get crafty with condiments.
Chances are, whatever you’ll be serving for Fourth of July food will require condiments, but you won’t want to have to go in and out to get them. Instead, invest in chic stoneware pods that you can leave filled with everything from spices to dips and spreads. You’ll waste fewer condiments, and it will make cleanup a cinch. Plus, it adds to your décor.
Let guests "pour" drinks.
To avoid mixing drinks for your guests all night long, have a few large batch cocktails already pre-made and in easy-to-pour dispensers. We love this simple Fourth of July–themed wine sparkler made from lemon-lime soda, fresh blueberries, and white wine. PS: Use a cookie cutter to carve some star-shaped watermelon cubes and freeze them to make the most festive ice cubes ever.
Doctor up premade dessert.
You’ve got enough to do, so baking a pie or making a flag cake needs to fall off the list. The trick is to serve an Instagram-worthy dessert without going through a lot of trouble. We like the idea of buying ice cream sandwiches and dipping them in red, white, and blue sprinkles. The final result looks as pretty as a picture, and they’ll be refreshing in the summer heat.
Do you have any awesome Fourth of July food hacks? Up next: ways to upgrade your Fourth of July party.