You could invite your friends and family over for a standard July 4th barbecue — or you could try to make this year’s 4th of July party more memorable with a tournament of patriotic games and sports. Games and sports are immensely important to American culture; the most popular games in America often reflect the values that Americans tend to hold dear: diligence, justice, teamwork, opportunity, and more. Throughout your July 4th get-together, you can arrange any number of the following events, which will help to build the national spirit amongst your guests.
Everyone learned about U.S. history in grade school, but not everyone remembers all the details of how modern America came to be. There are dozens of trivia games you can buy to test your guests’ knowledge of their country, or you can create your own trivia event, using shows like “Jeopardy” or “The Weakest Link” as inspiration.
Patriotic Scavenger Hunt
A slightly more passive activity that might be good for larger groups or parties with kids, a scavenger hunt requires guests to find examples of items from a list. On your patriotic scavenger hunt, you might include items like “something with stars” or “an American food.” You can ask your guests to take pictures of their finds as proof, or you can use the honor system.
Or, if you have more energy, you might organize a treasure hunt for your guests — in the spirit of “National Treasure.” Riddles requiring knowledge of U.S. history could lead your guests to some coveted prize, like American flag overalls or a replica Declaration of Independence.
Pin the Hat
A variation of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, this game asks blindfolded guests to place a paper hat atop Uncle Sam’s head. You might make this event more interesting by spinning the participant before their attempt or requiring they take a certain number of shots. You can find templates for this game online, or you can draw your own.
Capture the Flag
If you have a large number of people coming over for the 4th of July, you might want to arrange a game of Capture the Flag. One team might be the American rebels and the other team the British redcoats — or you could organize the game with inspiration from other famous conflicts in American history. Capture the Flag requires a relatively large space, like a park or football field, and you should have a system for designating members of each team. You might also set rules of interaction, like no rough touching that could cause injury.
Invented on the sitcom “New Girl,” True American was supposed to have inscrutable rules impossible for audience members to follow. However, creative fans have managed to develop a set of comprehensible rules for the game, which requires knowledge of American history, physical coordination, strategy, and outstanding alcohol tolerance. Fans of the show might enjoy this 4th of July event more than other guests, but in truth, this game is complex and fun for everyone.
Cornhole, Ladder Toss, or Other Yard Games
You might already have some yard games that you can set up to keep guests entertained during summer get-togethers. Cornhole, ladder toss, bocce, croquet, badminton, and other yard games are easy for some guests to play and other guests to watch. You could organize a tournament to track wins and losses to celebrate the yard game champion, or you could let games play out casually throughout the day and night.
Regardless of how many games or sports you integrate into your July 4th festivities, you need to plan an awards ceremony for the conclusion of your party. During the ceremony, you might light off fireworks while you hand out trophies or medals to all participants. You could give everyone an identical award for participation, or you might designate certain awards for different kinds of involvement; for example, the most competitive guest might win the “cutthroat” award, and the most cooperative guest might be awarded a “team player” certificate. You should try to keep the award ceremony light and fun, so everyone leaves your party feeling uplifted.
Some people enjoy the simple pleasure of standing around a smoking grill, but most people enjoy a bit more engagement from their social gatherings. By planning your event with a handful of activities your loved ones will enjoy, you might start a new Independence Day tradition — and forge deeper relationships with your friends and family during the most important national holiday of the year.