This year's Fourth of July is going to be different – but that doesn't mean it has to be disappointing.
According to Atlanta-based wedding planner Suzanne Reinhard, intimate celebrations are going to be crucial this year, with many large gatherings cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. "I'm a huge Fourth of July fan – it's probably my favorite holiday of the year," she says. "I think it's going to be a day for us to just love and appreciate our family and friends and take everything in a smaller quantity."
Here are seven tips from lifestyle experts for creating a special Fourth of July while following guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Go all out on red, white and blue
Many fireworks shows are nixed this year, but Independence Day can still be colorful.
In the absence of fireworks, Seri Kertzner, chief party officer at the New York-based event and styling company Little Miss Party Planner, says wearing red, white and blue takes on more meaning. "You need to be the fireworks this year," she says. "Dressing up makes it that much more fun."
Kertzner also encourages people decorate their homes to make quarantine as festive as possible. Her company offers packages complete with decorations and themed dining-ware. Additionally, retailers like Target, Party City and Joann also sell Independence Day decorations.
But if you don't own any red, white and blue, never fear. Reinhard says tie-dying white clothes can make for a great DIY look.
How to tie-dye any item of clothing—quarantine’s biggest DIY fashion trend
Stream a virtual fireworks show
It's still possible to view fireworks this year – you just need to get creative.
Erin Sprinkel, co-founder of Los Angeles-based event production company Sterling Social, recommends setting up a screen outside to stream fireworks online.
This activity can also turn into a movie night, says Sprinkel, who recommends patriotic films, like "Independence Day," "Top Gun" and "An American Tail" after getting your fill of virtual fireworks. Or check out the big-screen version of the Broadway musical "Hamilton," about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, available to stream on Disney Plus starting July 3.
Ditch at-home fireworks for confetti cannons
Fireworks sales are booming across the nation, but these at-home displays can come with legal and safety risks (especially as local crackdowns on illegal use rise).
For an alternative, Miami-based event consultant and lifestyle expert Carrie Zack recommends small confetti cannons, which are often used at gender reveal parties and weddings, where fireworks and sparklers are prohibited.
Have a socially distanced BBQ from your front lawn
Another Fourth of July staple is the barbecue.
To share a grilled feast while social distancing, celebrity party planner Michele Fox Gott from the Los Angeles-based Center of Attention Events recommends neighbors socialize from the safety of their front lawns.
Fox, who lives in Burbank, Calif., says her neighborhood did this on Memorial Day and it was "a hit."
"There was a lot of shouting and noises going back and forth as everyone talked to each other," she says. "It's a great way to reconnect."
Throw a socially-distanced parade
Who says coronavirus has to rain on your parade?
For another neighborhood activity, try organizing a small march with people at least six-feet apart and wearing face masks, Sprinkel says. To make the parade even more festive, she recommends decorating bikes, wagons and strollers in red, white and blue. "It's about making the kids have a lot of fun andfeel special and that they get to do something important and fun on Fourth of July," she said.
Show veterans gratitude
Reinhard recommends kicking off the Fourth of July by writing thank you letters to members of the military through Operation Gratitude. "A lot of us have been sad for what's been missing," she says. "But we are so blessed, and there is so much goodness that we have to be thankful for."
Reinhard also recommends donating to veterans charities like the Special Operators Transition Foundation, the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund and the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.
"Maybe some of the money that we would have spent on some of our normal stuff, we can spend a little bit thanking some of our troops who have provided for our freedom and our safety," she says.
Register to vote
Perhaps the most patriotic way to celebrate the Fourth of July is to make sure your voice is heard in upcoming elections, Kertzner says.
In order to celebrate your right to vote this Independence Day, Kertzner recommends encouraging loved ones to register to vote and perhaps starting respectful political dialogue with friends and family. You could even make some yummy voting-themed desserts.
"It’s time now more than ever to step back and look at what we have and what we’re grateful for and be the future," Kertzner adds.