Written By: Ashley Elliott

Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!!

Most years, the birth of American Independence is celebrated with activities ranging from extravagant fireworks, parades, concerts, fairs to casual family gatherings, and neighborhood barbeques. This year, well, COVID. 

For many, trips have been canceled, and plans have been turned on their head…closures, restrictions, precautions, social distancing are still looming as are anxieties about the uncertainty, frustrations with social justice, division with politics, etc., etc. Oh, 2020, we are only halfway through, but you have been a beast of a year! 

My encouragement for you today is to drop the anxieties, frustrations, and swirl of emotions, and refocus on the positives of our beautiful country. Don’t let the true meaning of this day be altered or overshadowed by those things out of your control. Be a positive ray for your children, neighbors, and family by finding ways to celebrate, sprinkling in some fun activities, and making the best of your situation. I have compiled a list of some simple crafts and easy festive food to hopefully inspire some red, white, and blue fun! (7 Crafts and 6 Foods, for ‘76 … see what I did there history buffs?) I would love for you to share in the comments or on our Facebook page your favorites for this holiday.

7 Festive Crafts:

  1. Loo Roll Rockets

Paint toilet paper rolls red and blue and then decorate! (Alternative here to avoid painting is to cover in construction paper.) Stickers, markers/crayons, and paper cut-outs all make for good rocket (or firecracker) decor. Then glue streamers, ribbon, shredded paper, and/or pipe cleaners to the bottom inside of one side for some extra POP! You can add little cone paper tops to your rockets and hang them with some string or place them upside down on the table as a firecracker. Use what you have!

2. Firework Straws

Rubber band, tie, or hot glue a bundle of straws together (you pick the number!) right at the bendy part of the straw (see picture) and have your kids dip them into a little tray or plate of paint then stamp them down. You can swirl colors of paint on the plate or have multiple plates with your “firework” colors.

3. Festive Crowns

Paper plates, poster board, leftover cardboard, or construction paper can all become great hats! We are partial to crowns in our house full of girls but name them as you wish. A festive crown could be a simple band decorated with whatever craft supplies you have or something that takes a bit more prep work with spikes and/or waves at the top. Pictured below is an example of making a Statue Of Liberty look. Use what crafty bits and bobs you have and let the kids’ creative minds do the rest! *Crayons and paper scraps can still make the cutest hats even without all the extras of stickers, pom-poms, buttons, pipe cleaners, or glitter.

4. Sparkle Wands

Cut some stars out of cardboard or cardstock, have the kids paint or color them (getting as fancy and elaborate as you wish), and hot glue them onto wooden rods or sticks from your yard. Add curled gift ribbon, spare craft ribbon, twist pipe cleaners on, pull out stickers, or dare I suggest glitter!

*Alternative: If your kid(s) are too young for wands – consider putting crafty bits into a plastic bottle with some colored water for a sensory bottle. Beads, glitter, ribbon, pipe cleaners, buttons can get shoved into the bottle, fill with water, add a drop of food coloring, then glue the top shut.

5. Chalk Fireworks

For this, all you need is black paper and some chalk. Youtube firework shows and let your kid draw their favorite. If you’re living on the wild side, once they have finished with the chalk they can add some extra sparkle with wet glue and glitter!

6. Handprint Flags

Lots and lots of variations of a handprint flag. You can paint the American flag on their hand and make a print (advanced version) or just paint their hand solid blue for the corner and allow them to add red stripes and star stickers. Red washi or masking tape, red markers, red paint, red dot markers, or red thumbprints all work well for stripe making. If your kiddo is too young to follow a line, gently stick down some masking tape to reserve some white space and let them go to town – when they are finished, you will pull up the tape to reveal the protected white stripes. Still too advanced? Just stamp their hand and let them add some “fireworks” around their hand – perfect time to use cotton swabs or Q-tips instead of brushes. These handprint flags can make cute shirts, cute cards for grandparents, or just some cute art for the refrigerator.

7. Bike/Scooter Decorating

Use streamers, ribbon, garland, Christmas tinsel, American flags, balloons, colored tape, horns, empty soda cans tied to a string, WHATEVER you have to decorate your bikes, scooters, wagons, strollers, etc. to make your own little parade around the neighborhood. It would be really fun to get your neighbors on board and select a time to ride or stride around the neighborhood together, but a mini family parade could still be fun too!

6 Festive Foods:

  1. Fruit Skewers

Choose some blue fruit (dark purple grapes, blueberries, & blackberries are my go-to’s here) and red fruit (raspberries, strawberries, watermelon), rinse them off, chop them, and thread them onto a wooden skewer for an easy snack. White color food options could be bananas, apples, or cheese cubes. If you’re feeling extra fancy, use a star-shaped cookie cutter to make stars as pictured above. Cutters work great on apples, pineapples, and watermelon. These are great for kids (if they mind their eyes on the sticks) because they can grab one with their sandy, messy, or dirty hands if you’re picnicking outside. No fingers, forks, or plates needed, win-win!

2. Flag Display

If you aren’t up for skewering your fruit, arrange a pretty flag display with some of the color food suggestions from above in #1. Crackers, yogurt covered items, and white chocolate covered items are good white color options that wouldn’t have been mentioned above. As are red bell peppers for your red group or adding a few drops of blue food dye to a veggie dip for your blue group. Get CREATIVE!

3. Striped Smoothies

Make two or three batches of smoothie in your blender and layer them in translucent or glass cups. You can make one batch of white (banana and/or vanilla) and add some of the colored foods mentioned above for your red and blue batch; (add food coloring if you need to). *My favorites are strawberries for red and blueberries for blue. There is an endless number of smoothie recipes online, but my favorites keep it simple… just frozen fruit (frozen banana chunks are a must, in my opinion) with some water for blending. If you like your smoothie a bit creamy, mix in a little almond/soy/cow’s milk or yogurt at the very end of blending. It’s a great time to sneak in some protein powders if you like too.
*Caution: If you’re serving these to kiddos, expect their cups to go from picture A (left) to picture B (right) in about 5 seconds flat! They don’t stay Pinterest-perfect for long with eager little mixers, so make sure to take a “hey look what I made” picture ASAP.
*Bonus: Have your kids make little American flags with a small rectangle piece of paper to tape onto their straws while you are busy blending away in the kitchen.

4. American Pie

Make your favorite dessert pie or crumble and top with some stars and stripes. Use your star cookie cutter or just a knife to cut your shapes from the pie crust before baking.

5. Red, White, & Blue Rice Crispy Treats

Rice crispy treats (as well as the ol’ dependable sugar cookie and cupcake) are easy, adaptable desserts for any occasion, so they certainly weren’t going to be excluded from this list. Drizzle or dip into colored icing (or melted chocolate), then cover with sprinkles, a simple one for kids to help with!

6. Flag French Toast

Toast makes a great flag shape, so if you aren’t a pancake artist, use toast! This could be simple with some buttered toast and fruit or stepped up with french toast and powdered sugar. My kids waste no opportunity to suggest whipped cream and fun sprinkles, but powdered sugar is enough of a morning sugar dose for this mom.

When you can’t control what is happening, remember to challenge yourself to control how you are responding to what’s happening. Keep your eyes fixed on the One who is in control. Lift up those around you, study God’s Word, stay in prayer, and continue to choose joy (and it is a choice) each day regardless of the lows that may roll through. Wishing everyone a happy, safe, and healthy 4th of July. May you feel blessed to live in such a great country as ours and proud to wave our flag. We, at Women Soaring, are continuing to pray for you, your family, and our country. As a military community, we couldn’t be prouder of our own men and women in uniform, continuing to fight for our freedoms, liberties, and protection. God bless the USA!

Written By: Ashley Elliott