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Independence Day is coming up soon. That special occasion when we gather with family and friends to celebrate America’s independence and freedom while filling our faces with watermelons and juicy burgers off the grill. You don’t want to wait until crunch time to be planning your 4th of July cookout now do you? Who doesn’t love a cookout anyway? That is unless you have little ones. It’s always a challenge to find a good way to keep younger kids entertained at a cookout. That’s why we’ve got a few ideas for you that will make this 4th of July a bit more enjoyable for you and your little ones.
Plan Ahead for Any Kind of Weather
Your family is gathered, the adults are catching up while the cousins run and play and you’re ready to fire up the grill! Having an adult or a couple of teenagers designated to watch over the smaller children as the other adults work on prep and cooking can be a huge help. Due to the fact that cook-outs are outside yet the weather this time of year tends to be extreme heat, having some indoor activities planned for the kids is not a bad idea. This ensures the little ones will not get too hot running and playing outside while the food is being cooked considering they will be outside to eat and after the food. These activities can be anything from festive crafts to board games. The key to this is making sure that everyone knows what areas are off limits and what the house rules are. Crafts such as making a flag out of popsicle sticks, finger painting, or even making festive hats out of red, white, and blue construction paper are all things that kids of most ages can do with a little help.
Encourage Food Prep Assistants
Small children love to be “big helpers”. Allowing them to help set the tables not only keeps them entertained, but also teaches them about teamwork and can give you a helping hand. Depending on their ages they can help with everything from putting on the table cloth and plastic ware to helping carry out dishes to set on the table. Part of the fun of cooking out for Independence Day is the colorful desserts. One way to help keep the kids entertained is to set up a dessert station with one of the adults “helping” (in other words monitoring) the kids as they each create their own individual dessert for after the main meal. This can be something as simple as having different berries and fruits for them to choose from and some little shortcakes to put the fruits on. Then, when it is time for dessert, all that is needed is the cool whip! Making your 4th of July Cook-out extra fun and tasty will be a piece of cake!
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Set Up Activity Centers
Sometimes your gathering is small and there are not teenagers or extra adults to help supervise the kids. That is okay! No matter what age kids are, they all love bubbles and games! Setting up a designated area with activity centers is helpful where you can monitor them from a distance while you continue prepping is ideal. You can put out dishes of bubbles and different shapes and styles of bubble wands to start out with. When you notice them starting to tire of the bubbles, you can bring out a different activity or game. Games such as cornhole and hopscotch are two examples of games good for little ones at a cook-out. Neither of these require an immense amount of space and are games that even small children can easily play. Chalk is another great attention grabber! If you have an area that the kiddos can let out their inner artist with some chalk, this could keep them busy for quite some time! If your space is large enough, encourage them to play a game of tag to burn off some energy and build an appetite at the same time! You can even make it a water gun tag to give them a way to cool off a little in the July heat.
Recruit Clean Up Helpers
Once everyone has a full tummy and it is time to start cleaning up before going to see fireworks, (or setting off your own), you can even involve the kids in the clean up process! The smaller ones can easily help by throwing away empty plates and gathering trash to throw in the garbage. Other “big helper” jobs can include helping wipe down tables and chairs and loading the dishwasher – with supervision of course! Older kids can help cover and carry leftovers to the fridge as well as help rinse dishes before they go into the dishwasher. If they need a little motivation, simply remind them that clean up has to be done before you can go see the fireworks! Having the kids help with clean up not only keeps them occupied, it also helps to carry over the teamwork feeling from setting up the cook-out as well as reinforcing the knowledge from an early age that cleaning up after themselves is important.
The main purpose of family get togethers on the 4th of July is to enjoy the freedom to spend time with your family. Regardless of how big or small your space is, what is on the menu, or how many people are there, the true celebration is in the memories created while being thankful for this freedom to gather with family and friends. As you can see, regardless of whether your 4th of July cook-out is a small and simple affair, or a large gathering with family members from both sides and friends, there are many ways you can get the kids involved and entertained! We only mentioned a few simple suggestions of ways to do this. The true list of entertainment possibilities for your littles is only as small as your imagination. (Or your Pinterest board!) So bring out the hot dogs and burgers, fire up the grill, set out the potato salad and desserts and enjoy your 4th of July cookout!
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