Summer is officially in full swing, which means it’s time to grab the lawn chairs, break out the grill and plan your family’s 4th of July celebration. It’s easier than it sounds—with simple treats, built-in holiday entertainment, and a little extra help to keep the kids happy, your family and friends are bound to have a blast.

1. Start the day with a parade.

Set the mood on Independence Day by kicking off the festivities with a parade. If you’re headed to a local parade, give the kids American flags to wave at passing floats and bring an extra bag to collect the tossed candy. No official parade in your area? No problem. You can still start the day with a solid dose of red, white and blue by organizing neighborhood families to decorate bikes, wagons and strollers. Map out a short course through a local park or around the block.

2. Keep the activities cool.

Temperature-wise, that is. In most parts of the country the thermostat is rising—which means keeping the kids happy while the parents relax and socialize means keeping them cool. Plan a water balloon toss; break out the squirt guns; and set up a baby pool, slip and slide, or sprinkler. For the little ones, a shaded water and sand table is always a hit.

3. Include some friendly competition.

Water games don’t have to be the only form of entertainment. Parents love to get in on the action with badminton or bags. Older kids can referee while the younger ones cheer on mom and dad. Want to take it to the next level? Create a bracketed tournament and crown a champion—trophy optional.

4. Hire a sitter to entertain the kids.

We know that even at casual gatherings, keeping tabs on the kids while attempting to hold a cohesive conversation without being interrupted for snacks or beverages every three minutes can be a challenge. A simple solution that will ensure you and your friends get to kick back this 4th of July? Call in reinforcements. A sitter or two can easily manage the kids while the parents party.

5. Serve tasty red, white and blue snacks.

Lucky for those of us who love themed food, red, white and blue eats for the 4th of July are simple and (mostly) healthy. We suggest checking out this list of fun and festive recipes. Our favs are the fruit sparklers, firework cheese sticks and patriotic popcorn. And don’t forget that hydration is key during a hot 4th of July celebration. A fruity punch is sure to satisfy the kids and adults. Try this one. Parent hack: Add the mixer of your choice to your glass.

6. Don’t forget the big finish.

No Independence Day is complete without fireworks—it’s a crowd pleaser for both kids and adults. Search your surrounding area and find the best show in town for a big finish on the 4th of July. If there’s no grand display nearby, remember that kids are pretty easy to please. Break out the sparklers and let them light up the night.

7. Soak up the memories.

Sadly, the 4th of July means a third of summer is behind us. Before we know it, it will be time to head back to school, and we’ll all be scrambling to buy new backpacks and supplies. Savor the day as you make priceless summer memories. And don’t forget: To help keep your whole summer as stress-free as possible, remember that July is a great time to get a jump on that school to-do list. Item no. 1?

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