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When you think of the Fourth of July, you probably think fireworks and evening barbeques. But like any good birthday, America’s 238th year is a cause for celebration from dawn until dusk! Ok, so maybe we don’t have to get up before the sun, but why not get the patriotism started bright and early this year by hosting an outdoor brunch for all your family and friends!? It’s a great way to beat the heat by getting the gang together for an early meal featuring lots of red, white and blue foods! Here are 7 ideas to keep in mind while you plan the perfect all-American outdoor brunch:

Pick an early start time – July Fourth can be hot, hot, hot! Plan an early brunch so you’re not eating during the height of the afternoon heat. Think 10 or 11 am. This will also give you and all your guests a bit of afternoon down time before it’s time to ramp up the festivities again in the evening!

Find Patriotic Decorations  –  The key to any good party is great decorations! Head to the party store to pick up some small flags, red, white and blue napkins, or sparkly table décor. You can also put the kids to work cutting out stars and stripes from construction paper for the table!

Make Recipes Ahead of Time – Pick dishes that are easy to make ahead of time and don’t require a lot of time in the kitchen when your guests arrive. For example, instead of whipping up individual portions of French toast, serve a French toast bake that can be passed round the table.

Stick to Finger Foods – Try to serve mini versions of brunch favorites as much as possible that are easy to pick up and eat in one bite. Chances are no one is going to want to stay at the table for a meal, especially if kids are around! Serving food buffet style, with easy to grab finger food makes it much easier to mingle and chat with everyone.

Let Them Eat Cake – Every meal needs a little something sweet to round it out. Try serving this Red, White and Blueberry Cake for a light dessert with a lot of American pride!

Host a Scavenger Hunt – Keep everyone occupied by hosting a friendly scavenger hunt. Before your guests arrive, hide small items around the yard, then give each guest a check list of objects. The first person, or team, to find everything wins a red, white and blue prize!

Bring a Polaroid Camera– Having a photo booth at any event always seems to bring out the best in people. Instead of going all out, place a polaroid camera or two on the table. Your guests will be fighting over them, hoping to snap the best brunch shots!

Plan for the night ahead – As a parting gift, give all of your guests a little Fourth of July goodie bag. Fill it with sparklers, and poppers that they can use to celebrate once the sun goes down and it’s time for the firework show to begin.

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