Fourth of July BBQ

It only takes until that first bite of a hot dog to look around and know what kind of Fourth of July cookout you’re attending. Is it a properly organized patriotic soirée where everyone is having a blast – especially the Uncle Sam doppelganger making his way through the red, white and blue bean dip? Or is it a dud, a sparsely attended get-together you want to push the eject button on and return home to watch “Independence Day” on a loop?

Whether you’ve been contemplating your cookout for months or are inviting folks on a whim at the 11th hour, it’s not too late to add some extra mustard to your Independence Day Party. Here are some tips and advice to create a get-together your guests will relish for years to come, whether it’s July Fourth or any time. (We could keep these condiment puns up all day, but don’t worry, we won’t.)

Creating the Right Vibe

  • Wiffle Ball Homerun Derby: If you have a fence bordering your yard, or even forgiving neighbors, then there is no more patriotic activity to add to your backyard cookout than America’s pastime: baseball, well Wiffle Ball, to be exact. It’s a great all-ages game, too. Don’t be surprised if the pint-sized players are asking to sign up for little league the next morning while the adults ice their rotator cuff. (If you hit enough long balls that you think you might have what it takes to play in the big league, the Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby is July 28 at Migley Field in New Carlisle, Indiana – and it’s open to everyone.)

Migley Field
Via Twitter, New Carlisle Newts (

  • Light this Candle! Ahhh… fireworks. This Fourth of July staple is available for D.I.Y. backyard spectaculars in some form in 47 states – plus the District of Columbia. Note that, depending on your state, your legal arsenal can range from sparklers to roman candles to something you might see shot out of a cannon circa 1776. But just because the heavy artillery is legal in your state doesn’t mean you should design your own fireworks show rivaling the skies above Washington’s National Mall or NYC’s Hudson River. The American Pyrotechnics Association is your home for safety tips, as well as determining whether buying and/or setting off fireworks in your home state is legal. (And if you want to know the penalty for shooting off outside the law, Time made a cool map outlining your potential fines.)

Fireworks map


Right-sizing supplies

When it comes to determining how much food and beverages to buy for your big cookout, the struggle is real. Before you awkwardly ask guests how many oz. of baked beans they plan on eating, try these helpful tools. For starters, the BBQ Planner will ensure you don’t need to make a last-minute red hot run or waste any Buffalo chicken sliders (It even takes your vegetarian friends into account.) As for adult beverages, alcohol superstore BevMo! offers a drink calculator to make sure your coolers and bar are stocked appropriately. But the key to making these tools work is to know just how many folks are attending, which is where goHappy comes in...

Finding the right time

If you’ve yet to send those cookout invites, then your procrastination has paid off, my friend! The old way of scheduling cookouts is to find the best date and time for you and only you, then share it with potential guests whose schedules you’re hopeful will line up with yours. It’s more of a lottery than a true get-together, as you’re simply hoping your numbers match theirs. But there is a better way, a friendlier and more effective way to take everyone’s availability into account and maximize attendance. With a goHappy date poll, you can pick a few times that work for you, and then get your family, friends and neighbors to weigh in on the dates quickly and easily. You’ll be able to see which date is the most popular and then confirm it. (Best of all, you and your guests can respond with or without the app.) Guests can then use goHappy’s chat functionality to discuss which dish they’ll bring and even share cookout pictures to create moments that will last much longer than than those leftover deviled eggs.

goHappy Poll

Happy Fourth of July! Or Happy Any Weekend! It’s easy to create a cookout that’s medium well, but we think by following these tips, you can deliver that rare get-together that’s memorable long after those final charcoal briquettes peter out.