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A Generally Old-Fashioned 4th of July

This year, turn back the clock on your Independence Day celebration by hosting an old-timey shindig on the Fourth.  Doing something different will make your party stand out in a sea of summer barbecues, and it will provide a creative challenge for you over the next couple weeks.  No need to stress over authenticity for this one; it’s summertime, for heaven’s sake!  A general sense of “old-fashioned” will do just fine.  Here’s how to pull it off.

Once Upon a Time…

Again, we won’t get hung up on exactly when.  The idea here is to use decorations to evoke a feeling rather than to recreate a specific time and place.  You’re looking for anything that feels theatrical, such as historical versions of the American flag (bunting flags are perfect), portraits of presidents, images or cutouts of Uncle Sam, or bits and pieces that have a colonial feel (pewter accessories, serving baskets, fabric table cloths).  See what you can repurpose from around your house, like candle sticks, old family photos, silver, mason jars, or glass carafes.

Basket Bidding Lunch Auction

For some throwback fun, have a basket bidding lunch.  Not only will it take pressure off of you for some of the party food, it might help your guests mix and mingle.  Use Monopoly money for the bidding, or agree on a charity to donate to if you use real money.

Traditionally, it’s the girls who put together the meal baskets for the guys to bid on, but go ahead and switch it up if it suits you (for sticklers who demand historical context, claim it’s 1848, the year of the first women’s rights convention).

For party drinks, offer lemonade and sarsaparilla (root beer).  When the party heats up, whip out your ice cream maker and take turns making homemade specialties.

What to Wear to an Old-Fashioned Fourth of July

People want to relax and tend to wear their own versions of red, white, and blue on Independence Day, so don’t worry too much about attire.  If you want to take it to an easy next level, though, remember that hats are a great buy, since they do triple duty as decoration, costumes, and souvenirs.  We like’s Miss Liberty crowns for the ladies ($0.53 ea.) and skimmers for the gentlemen ($1.24 ea.). Not everybody needs one, either.  You’ll get a great effect even if just a third of your guests are wearing them, so pick up three or four of each.

Strike Up the Band

Patriotic marching tunes are  a must for an old-fashioned Fourth.  Vary your picks so they include John Philip Sousa’s hits, plus some fife and drum songs.  Once again, Disney theme park audio online is also a fantastic resource.  Search for music from Liberty Square, the Hall of Presidents, and Epcot’s American Adventure attraction and U.S.A. pavilion. is a good place to start.

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