Weather permitting, who’s planning on spending July 4th outdoors? Are you going to a beach picnic or a BBQ? We have a sneaking suspicion that, oh, maybe 99% of the country will be doing the same… Ok, maybe not quite that number, but we suspect a large percentage of folks will be celebrating our nation’s independence in the out of doors.
In our experience, outdoor parties, be they for the 4th of July or a summer celebration of friends and family, typically do not come with any social obligation to bring a gift beyond, perhaps, contributing a bottle of wine or two to the bar offerings, or a tray of brownies to the dessert table. That said, you may feel moved to bring a little something out of the ordinary to augment the festivities, be it something silly, or something practical. First up, DO make sure you are confident that your host(ess) will appreciate such a gesture - if you don’t know your host(ess) well, it may be best to stick to tradition in order to avoid making him/her/them feel unprepared or, even worse, upstaged at their own party. That said, if it happens to be a party being thrown by your BFF, sibling or college roommate, it may be a “no holds barred” situation. In that case, we have six top notch gift ideas for you:
PHOTO PROPS: These days, photo-documenting good times is pretty much par for the course. If you will be attending a party with a lot of snap happy folks, consider contributing some fun and/or funny photo props, be it empty frames for folks to literally frame their shots, sunglasses, silly glasses, colorful hats, and/or mirrors to experiment with reflections. Prop kits are available for mermaids, pirates and dog lovers (among others!) if you fancy going with a theme. Alternately, a few disposable film cameras for folks to play around with with can offer some delayed gratification when you circulate a link to the digitally developed images several weeks later.
HAND WIPES AND SUNSCREEN: For a party that will be heavily attended by children, consider gifting your host(ess) a large pack of hand wipes and a couple of sunscreens - one for adults and one for the kiddoes. In our experience, sunscreen and wipes are a couple of things that can easily help stave off disaster, be it in the form of sunburns, rashes and/or sand in the mouth. Chances are that everyone, parents and children alike, will have a jollier day and a happier party if sunburns are avoided and sand/dirt is not ingested.
DRINK GARNISHES: Did your mind immediately go to alcoholic beverages? Yep, we got you. But, this can actually be a fun gift regardless of alcoholic content. We’ve found that children and children-at-heart revel in fun straws - be they patterned, or funnily shaped - and drinks umbrellas. And, for something eminently practical, do take a look at drinks markers, available as actual markers, stickers or magnets. There are a whole slew of ways to distinguish beverages and to take folks’ drinking game up a notch, whether or not drinking games are involved.
AN OUTDOOR GAME: This is perhaps the easiest idea on the list - there are so many great outdoor games that actually require fairly little equipment, it’s easy to be the party superhero that gifted your hostess with a Goodminton set, or your host with an Aerobie or Super Disc. Alternately, you may wish to consider an outdoor ring toss set or a kubb (aka “Viking chess”) set.
INFLATABLE POOL: This is a multi-purpose gift that can be put to use either in a practical capacity or as a form of entertainment. If you are attending a party where young children will be present, an inflatable pool can be quickly filled with a hose or filled with ocean or lake water, offering an immediate play spot. Having a little pool like this allows very little ones to get in on the water sports action while remaining eminently supervisable by their parents. Practically speaking, an inflatable pool can also act as a spontaneous drinks cooler. Whether it’s beers, wine or sodas you want to keep cold, simply fill up the pool with water and fill it with a range of beverages, even better if you have a bag of ice to dump over everything. Final note: a bag of ice and an inflatable pool also lends itself to a bit of adult (and/or older child) gaming too. Dump a box of marbles in the pool and have folks “fish” for them with their toes in the freezing water. The person who fishes out the most marbles wins!
SKY LANTERNS OR WISH PAPERS: On July 4th, many of us will be on the lookout for fireworks, but if there are no fireworks taking place near you on the actual day, or you are looking for something to warm up/cool down the crowd before/after the fireworks, do check out these biodegradable Chinese sky lanterns. Alternately, wish papers offer a fun way for folks to avail of evening or night light to look to the future with optimism and hope. These are fun activities for any outdoor party that will extend into the twilight or night hours, be it Independence Day or not!
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