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Creative ways to celebrate 4th of July

By Alison Ward, Contributing writer
Published On: Apr 10 2012 02:08:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 08 2013 10:38:05 AM CDT
Boys, American Flags, Fourth Of July

ŠiStockphoto.com/hartcreations

Every year on July Fourth, America celebrates its birthday and its independence.

Too often the holiday slips by in a dizzying blur of spectacular fireworks and enjoyable barbecues that, while certainly celebratory, do not convey the deeper meaning of the July Fourth holiday.

Try these alternative ways to mark the Fourth of July respectfully, including ways to teach the holiday's importance to your children.

Visit A Local Cemetery: Cemetery custodians will be happy to point you in the right direction. This simple gesture of kindness for those who gave their lives for this country costs very little, but means a lot.

Call Your Local Military Base: Find out if they are accepting care packages for soldiers stationed overseas. One small box packed with items most of us take for granted, such as shaving cream or candy, is a precious commodity overseas, and can let a soldier know just how much you appreciate his or her sacrifice. Again, this is an idea that costs very little, but will mean a lot. To take this to a larger scale, contact others in your community and organize a larger donation. Every care package helps.

Visit A Historical Site: On July Fourth of every year, according to Monticello.org, Thomas Jefferson's home hosts one of its biggest attractions: the Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony. Soon to be sworn-in American citizens take their oaths on Monticello's vast West Lawn.

Throw A Patriotic Potluck: If you want to host a party, why not a red-white-and-blue-themed potluck? Chances are great that not only have you never done this, none of your friends or neighbors have ever attended a party like this, either. All the food must be in the colors of the American flag.

Teach Your Kids About The Day Go with them to your local library to check out books about the heroes who fought for our country. Take them with you to the parade, or to the cemetery to place flowers on a soldier's grave, and explain to them the concept of fighting for something bigger than themselves. Many Web sites, such as FamilyFun.go.com and apples4theteacher.com, offer all sorts of history-based educational activities, from crafts and jigsaw puzzles to coloring pages and word searches. Doing these with your children makes for family bonding and an educational Fourth of July.

Regardless of how you celebrate, it is important to stop and think about what Independence Day means. Though it may mean something different to every person, the key is to do something to commemorate the occasion meaningfully. Trying something new doesn't have to be a bad thing. In addition to your typical barbecue or fireworks celebration, these ideas are a wonderful place to start.