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How to put together the perfect 4th of July picnic

A 4th of July picnic to celebrate Independence Day this year

Fourth of July decorations
Malisa Nicolau/Shutterstock

Celebrating the Fourth of July with a picnic is a wonderful family-friendly way to spend the holiday. Whether you are heading to the beach, a parade, or staking a spot early for fireworks, a 4th of July picnic is super fun. Of course, an Independence Day picnic calls for a special 4th of July picnic menu with a patriotic flair. Red, white, and blue are the colors of the day, so be sure to include them in the 4th of July picnic festivities.

Putting together a Fourth of July picnic doesn’t have to be complicated or a time-consuming task. If you’re looking for 4th of July picnic ideas that taste great and are patriotic, go get the blanket and let’s get started. These tasty ideas will shine as brightly as those fireworks.

Fourth of July fireworks light up the sky

Red, white, and blue theme

It is Independence Day, which means a Fourth of July picnic requires a red, white, and blue theme. Give your picnic a Fourth of July flair by bringing along red, white, and blue plates, napkins, cups, and utensils. A patriotic party pack is an ideal pick for the picnic, and you can save any leftovers for a Labor Day picnic or backyard barbecue. If you’re really feeling patriotic, you can pack all the goodies up in a matching picnic basket, and don’t forget the blanket to complete the red, white, and blue theme.

Two kids sitting in front of a U.S. flag
Melanie DeFazio/Shutterstock

4th of July picnic essentials

When packing the picnic basket for an Independence Day celebration, make sure to include a separate bag with some outdoor eating necessities. Bring your own garbage bag along for a quick and easy cleanup. Park garbage cans are often already overloaded. Sunblock is important to have on hand as in bug spray, especially if your Fourth of July picnic is a precursor to evening fireworks.

While food is the center of any 4th of July picnic, remember the kiddos will get bored easily. Be sure to bring along games and activities for the kids to do before and after the picnic. Fun picnic games include cornhole, spikeball, or ring toss. Pack coloring books and crayons along with some books to pass the time while waiting for those fireworks.

Fourth of July can get hot, so be prepared with extra juice boxes and plenty of water bottles. Ice packs will keep the food cool until everyone is ready to sit down and eat. Don’t forget to pack plastic forks and spoons along with wipes.

Two cute little girls eating cupcakes on the Fourth of July
Arina P. Habich/Shutterstock

Yummy Fourth of July picnic menu

The key to a delicious July 4th picnic is to pack foods your family loves and keep it simple. It’s a special day, so a couple of treats are in order, but you want to keep the menu healthy, too. A great way to do that is by mixing in some red and blue fruits to go along with the sweet snacks.

Patriotic popcorn

Give a kid-favorite snack a patriotic look by mixing in dried blueberries and cranberries:

  • Take a bowl of your kids’ top popcorn or make some microwave popcorn.
  • Mix in dried blueberries and cranberries to taste.
  • Make individual bags of red, white, and blue snacks using resealable bags.

Yogurt parfaits

There isn’t anything healthier than yogurt, blueberries, and strawberries. This red, white, and blue dish can be a picnic snack or lunch. Here’s how to make them:

  • Use your kiddos’ favorite vanilla or plain Greek yogurt and spoon a layer into the bottom of a sealable cup. Condiment cups with lids are a perfect pick for picnics. You can buy in bulk online and toss them when the kids are done.
  • Place a layer of blueberries over the yogurt.
  • Top with a layer of yogurt.
  • Finish off with a layer of cut-up strawberries.
  • Make sure the lids are on tight to avoid spills in the picnic basket or cooler.

Mini flag sandwiches

All you need to make quick and tasty sandwiches for everyone with a red, white, and blue flair is bread, cream cheese, blueberries, and jam. Follow this:

  • Cut wheat or white bread slices into flags using a cookie cutter. You can do this with a knife, too, and just cut the bread into rectangles. The number of slices depends on how many sandwiches you need.
  • Spread a layer of cream cheese on one slice.
  • Spread a layer of strawberry jam.
  • Put the slices together.
  • Add a blueberry garnish and keep it in place with a flag toothpick.

Watermelon fruit salad

What Fourth of July picnic wouldn’t be complete without watermelon? For this sweet, cool snack or dessert, all you need is watermelon, blueberries, and strawberries. Add a dollop of whipped cream, canned or fresh, when serving to give that signature red, white, and blue look. To make a yummy and healthy watermelon salad, take these steps:

  • Cut up watermelon and strawberries into small pieces.
  • Mix together in a bowl with blueberries.
  • Spoon into condiment cups.
  • Seal with lid.
  • Don’t forget the whipped cream to add when it’s time to serve!

Mini patriotic cupcakes

With a healthy picnic in tow, you certainly need to top it off with a sweet treat. Mini cupcakes travel well and are quick to make. If you’re short on time, use a boxed mix. For a scratch recipe, try this easy vanilla cake recipe:


  • 3 cups of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease and flour 4-inch or 6-inch cake pans.
  • Mix flour and baking soda together in a large bowl.
  • Combine softened butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Then, add in eggs and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer.
  • Add milk to the mixer.
  • Blend until combined.
  • Line mini cupcake tin with liners. Patriotic liners are a nice touch. If you can’t find red, white, and blue ones, use red or blue mini liners instead.
  • Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack before removing.
  • Allow to cool completely before icing.

When you’re ready for frosting, store-bought white frosting is quick, and top it with red and blue sprinkles. If you prefer a frosting from scratch, try this recipe:


  • 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Blend in a mixture and add additional powdered sugar if the icing is too runny or milk if it’s too thick. When the cupcakes are ready, pack them in a resealable container or a mini cupcake holder for easy transport.

Baby and a cat sitting on a cornhole game
David Prahl/Shutterstock

Celebrating July 4th with a picnic

A Fourth of July picnic is a wonderful way to spend Independence Day as a family wherever you decide to place the blanket. If you don’t want to fight the holiday traffic to hit the beach, head to a local park with your patriotic picnic or spread the blanket in your own backyard.

The kids will have a blast either way. With these simple Fourth of July picnic ideas, you’re ready for a deliciously delightful Independence Day picnic that won’t stress you out to put together. If your family’s Fourth of July picnic is the appetizer for those ultra-cool fireworks, make sure to toss in some extra bags of patriotic popcorn for the kiddos to munch on.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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