TSJ’s Guide to 4th of July Partytimes

Today is the big day. July 4th—America’s birthday! As good a reason as we can give ourselves to kick back, wave the star & stripes, grill, and blow some fireworks up. Odds are you know at least one friend or relative who’s throwing a party, and if that’s the case we advise you to have a blast.

But if it’s you who decided to be the host this year, we decided to lay out a quick guide to planning your party to save you some frustration, undue labor, and shame:

Bring the Kids!

Maybe not your kids, just any kids. If you don’t have kids, steal one from somebody else. Use candy. Kids make July 4th more fun for the same reason they make going to the zoo more fun—the profound excitement of being around and lighting off fireworks hasn’t worn off yet, and that tends to rub off on the adults. They love them way more than you do, and they can’t wait to volunteer to light them, themselves. Two birds, one bottle rocket.

And by “kids” we mean ages 5 to 12. Anything below that is just a pain in the ass liable to get spooked by loud noises. Anything above that is just a pain in the ass liable to get spooked by half-naked bodies.

Take it Easy with the Patio Décor

Nobody’s questioning anybody’s patriotism, here. The fact that you’re outside drinking and playing with fire is enough to prove you’re an American. Tableware heavily draped in flag patterns and red, white and blue streamers hanging everywhere is just plain tacky. It’s a celebration, not a beauty pageant.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s always classy to do some decorating. It’s just that you can only do so much with the American flag pattern. You’re better off leaving the pissing contest for Christmas season where there’s a whole bunch of iconography, like Santa, and reindeer, and elves, and lights to play with and a longer window to enjoy it.

Leave These People OFF the Invite List

(Oh, okay, you can invite vegan Playboy models.)

VEGANS: They’ll ask strange things, like “Does this have meat in it?” and “Where is the tofu steak?” You’ll say strange things, like “What?” and “If this was The Hunger Games, Katniss would cap your ass first.”

HIPPIE VEGANS: They’ll say they’re occupying Wall Street, or protesting against corporations, man, when you ask them why they won’t just get a job. Or just sneer at how many acres of Amazon flora probably had to die for that M-80 you’re holding in your hand. And you don’t need that kind of trouble.

SELF-PROCLAIMED GRILL EXPERTS: If you tell them you’re handling the meat, they’ll still end up peaking over your shoulder every time you flip something. That’s just wrong.

SELF-PROCLAIMED FIREWORKS EXPERTS: Dude, trust me. I’ve done this before. We’ll just pack this old mortar full of flash powder, clay, and lighter fluid… Bla. Bla. Blah.

Keg Instead of BYOB

A) Less cleanup after all is said and done — a hundred plastic cups are easier to get rid of than a hundred bottles and cans. Not to mention it removes the possible shenanigans involved in combining glass bottles, alcohol, and tiny little explosives. #firstworldproblems

B) Your guests are paying less to drink more, and don’t have to worry about wrangling a cooler around.

C) You can charge a reasonable amount per cup and still likely break even. We’re American. The art of enterprising never takes a holiday.

D) We all miss college. Anything to bring back the memories…

Go Heavy on the Yard Games

Because not everybody is comfortable frolicking in the water (we’re assuming this is a lake party, or some kind of beach bash with boats & hoes involved, because we watch too much TV). That entails everybody taking their shirt off and getting angry at the one dude who has a six pack. God, what a douche. Who does he think he is, anyway? His balls are probably all tiny and shriveled from steroid use. Go back to the Jersey Shore and let the rest of us be self-conscious on peace!!!

Tailgate toss. Washer toss. Touch football. Tackle football. Volleyball. Bocce. Polish horseshoes. Chinese horseshoes. Horseballs. The possibilities are limitless. Set up a tournament and make a bracket. Hell, find a board, a ball, and an assortment of sharp objects and just make up a game.

Don’t Get Cute with the Menu

Or maybe we should rephrase: Don’t get cute with your menu. Since it’s your party the onus is obviously on you to provide some main course fiddles. Everybody (vegan and vegetarian folk notwithstanding) likes the basics—fried chicken, pulled pork, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. They’re easy to prepare and easy to eat. Because they taste amazing.

Everybody else is bringing the appetizers and snack food, so if one of them wants to bring crème brulee and macarons glazed in peasant sweat, that’s on them. No harm, no foul.

Make Your Music Playlist 1/3 Patriotic and 2/3 Miscellaneous

A third is more than enough. Anything more and you’ll have to start digging into country. Plus, there’s really only like 10 or 15 great patriotic songs out there that everybody would know. It’s best to lace the obligatory patriotism in between Dougie-ing and Bernie-ing. You can make an ass of yourself, and then feel damn glad you live in a country that doesn’t discriminate against asses.

Happy 4th of July!

Related on the Smoking Jacket:
Headshots: Dumping the Brits was the Best. Breakup. EVER.
TwitPic Theater: July 4th Edition