Nine Ideas for Fantastic Frugal Family Fourth Fun!

Happy Fourth of July! Today I thought I would republish last year’s Fourth of July article, since it was chock-full of awesome and amazing fun ideas. I hope you enjoy!

One good thing about Fourth of July celebrations is that they don’t have to be expensive. Sure, you could head out on a big trip or go down to the store and buy a ton of flag-themed merchandise. But any good American can take a simple holiday like celebrating the independence of our country and turn it into a reason to spend a small fortune. In fact, according to a Forbes article I found from 2010 we spend upwards of $3 billion on the holiday – seven years ago! I’m sure that number is much higher today.

If you want to take a trip for the Fourth, or use the “free” bonus day off to take a week off, that’s great! Have fun! But you might be looking for more creative ideas on fun things you could do with your family Frugality’s all about having non-monetary fun – right? So today I’m going to share NINE ideas Fantastic Frugal Family Fourth Fun!


1 – Free Fireworks!

I’ve seen lots of opportunities in my town to spend a lot of money on seeing fireworks – paid admission to a show, or  heading to an amusement park that has a fireworks show that night. It can be fun but costly – that park, for example, would cost over $100 for everyone.  A bit of planning ahead leads to tons of opportunities for free fireworks shows. Just google fireworks plus the name of your state, county, or city (depending on where you live) and you’ll find plenty free shows.

Use this as an opportunity to explore a nearby town that you don’t visit very often! Although every year we go to my sister in laws house and sit on the lawn on the fourth, and we can see two or three fireworks shows from there, I also want to explore something we haven’t seen before. So this past Sunday we headed to a nearby town that was having a fourth of July festival and fireworks to have a blast (ha ha, get it?)!

2 – Hold A Cookout

A cookout can be a great way to have fun with family, friends, neighbors, or just with your own household to celebrate the holiday.  And it’s usually not expensive – the Farmer’s Bureau estimates July 4th cookout costs to be roughly $6 per person. Of course you can make it expensive by grilling lobster or something like that, but there’s no need. Good company, good alcohol (beer, wine, or other of your choice), and good food is what matters.

3 – Bake Patriotic Food

This one can be a lot of fun. Last year I made sugar cookies with red and white stripes and blue stars in the middle, as well as red white and blue star-shaped cookies. I didn’t like the look of the flag cookies, but the stars came out nice. They both tasted delicious though!

You can make any kind of food in red, white, and blue colors. Take some strawberries, blueberries, cake (vanilla, pound, or angel food) and whipped cream and you have a delicious red white and blue dessert.  Or bake a cake, dye white frosting blue and red, and create either a flag design or a different decoration.

You can even sprinkle powered sugar on french toast for white, and then surround the french toast with blue and red berries (check out my Instagram for the one I made on Sunday!). Be creative!

4 – Create a Flag (or other craft!)

This is an activity best for younger kids – ages 4-7 or so. My oldest kids at nearly 10 and 13 are kind of too old for this, but younger kids love it!

You’ll just need a few sheets of white paper, red construction paper, and blue construction paper. The amount you’ll need depends on how many kids you have doing this.

Have the kids cut out red stripes, a blue square, and a bunch of white stars.  Then give them glue and let them glue together their own flag creations. This would be a great way to keep little kids busy during the BBQ above!

The craft stores like Michael’s, Joann’s, AC Moore, and Hobby Lobby usually have deals on $1 holiday-themed wooden crafts you can paint. Just pick up some of those and red, white, and blue paint and let the kids go to town. This can be fun even for older kids, if you get something more elaborate or complex to paint. And those stores almost always have many, many coupons to get a good deal on a craft.

5 – Have A Fun Free Day Trip

You can make an ordinary day trip extraordinary with a bit of planning. For example, my family once had a great time eating breakfast at a local park. We went early in the morning, grabbed one of the open grills, and grilled bagels there. Then we played at the park until it was time for lunch. You could even bring a picnic lunch and stay the whole day.


Also remember the time I had a fun weekend for my family for only $11, visiting several free places we hadn’t been to before, and using Groupon for some discounts? Be sure to check out what’s available for free or discount in your state. With a bit of looking I bet you’d have a great time!

6 – Library Passes!

Anyone who’s been reading for a while knows I love the library, and holidays are no exception. Yes, lots of places that are usually open are unfortunately closed on the 4th weekend. But some of them are open, or might be having special activities. It’s certainly worth checking out (1) what passes are available at your library, and (2) which places have something going on for the Fourth. I bet you’ll be able to find something interesting that kids would enjoy!

Mark Twain museum is one that we in CT can get library passes for.

7 – Visit A New Park

Kids already getting tired of the same old park? Do you usually stick to the parks in your town, or one or two in the neighboring towns? Take a “park adventure” by checking out parks a few towns away. Think of some towns within driving distance but outside your usual park range. For example, we have some towns that are a 20-30 minute drive away that have some great parks. They’re too far away for day-to-day visits, but perfect for a nice day off! Give it a try, and you might find a new favorite.

8 – Learn Some Local History

Kids usually don’t want to LEARN during the summer, right? That’s OK, they can learn anyway, right? 🙂 Take the opportunity of the fourth of July to learn something about local history connected either to the war itself, to a different war, the military, or something connected to indepdence.

For example, here in CT we have a bunch of historical sites related to the Revolutionary War. Most of them are free, and within an hours drive from my house. Although I’ll be honest – when I excitedly asked the boys if they’d like to go, I got a firm “NO THANKS” from my teenager! I guess they spent a lot of time studying the Revolutionary War this past year and he found it boring. Oh well, maybe we’ll go anyway!

9 – Take A Trip To The Dollar Store

I have to say that my favorite place to get holiday-themed stuff on the cheap is the dollar store. We have a few of those stores in my town and they’re chock full of inexpensive holiday decorations. So if you’re looking to pick up some plates, decorations, favors, tablecloths, etc. for a fourth of July celebration, be sure to check out the dollar store first. You never know when you might find some cool stuff!

I like to keep my holiday things in a clearly labeled box in the basement, so I can easily pull them out when needed. Right now I mostly have fall and winter holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But I’ve been thinking about starting collections for some of the other holidays, just to make things more fun and festive for the kids.

What Are Your Ideas?

Do you have any fun and creative ideas for fourth of July celebration fun? Let everyone know in the comments!

Want to learn more about teaching kids about money? Check out this great page with my top articles and resources I’ve found from around the web. And if you haven’t already, be sure to swing by my comprehensive Kids and Money page.

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6 thoughts on “Nine Ideas for Fantastic Frugal Family Fourth Fun!”

  1. DadsDollarsDebts

    Instead of baking patriotic food, my fun activity is going to be eating patriotic food. I look forward to some US Hot Dogs and Hamburgers!

    Hope you have a great 4th.

  2. I love your frugal list o’ fun! We’re always on the lookout for free and cheap ways to entertain our family. We like going for bike rides on our local trails. When we try to reach a new goal like hitting 10 miles (our daughter can’t go too far) it gets even more fun. 🙂

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