Regular visitors to our social channels and website will know that we have a New Yorker on the team here. That New Yorker is none other than Rockland County’s greatest export, Claire Hamilton.
It’s a big day for her and her amazing country today, so we let her loose on the blog to talk about all things July 4th. Claire’s celebrations kicked off a week early when she went to a very fancy party but we’ll let her explain all. She’s also got some ideas of how to throw the perfect July 4th party, which is also included here. We’ve just ruined all the surprises for this blog. We should just let you read it, shouldn’t we?
We especially love the red, white and blue connotations that mean so many different things in America and Belfast in July. She can be so innocent sometimes! Happy 4th July y’all!
It was all red, white and blue in Belfast on the 28th June to celebrate America's Independence Day at the US Consulate’s annual party. Hosted by Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau, U.S. Consul General in Belfast, the event was a great opportunity to say thank you to businesses in Northern Ireland who are building strong relationships across the pond.
Kicking off with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, it was a lovely get together and celebration of US and Northern Irish friendship. I got goose bumps when I heard that song performed, not just because it is a beautiful song, but as an American living abroad it means so much to feel connected to your roots. Living in another country can be very challenging and reminders of home are always welcomed. That said, there are so many benefits to being an expat. It can open doors that you never knew existed and it also enables you to share your culture with new friends.
This could be introducing people to Thanksgiving dinners, educating colleagues on the complex American political landscape or hosting a 4th of July party to celebrate one of the best days of the year in the USA. While everyone has their own family traditions and personal touches to hosting the best Independence Day shindig, there are a few things that are a must! Here are some of my ideas for hosting a ‘fire-craicing’ (lol) 4th of July party for your new friends abroad.
1) Hotdogs and hamburgers are a staple for any 4th of July party. It is also all about the condiments. Heinz Ketchup, “American” mustard, relish, pickles, lettuce and sliced tomatoes are musts for setting the scene for the perfect meat main course. Want to add a little bit of patriotic flare? Try putting little American Flag toothpicks in your hamburger buns. For sides, a few favourites include coleslaw, corn on the cob, grilled veggies and a classic green salad. (There are also amazing options for vegetarian guests.)
2) It’s not just about the hotdogs and hamburgers – desserts are just as important, and this is where you can have fun and ask friends to chip in. We’ve got American Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Ice Cream Sundaes with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top or if you’re very adventurous, an American Flag cake. But a simple, crowd pleaser is good ol’ ice pops (preferably Red, White and Blue).
3) Now for my favourite part – the cocktails. You obviously have your staples such as beer cans and wine, but jazz it up with a few signature cocktails that are on theme. My favourite cocktails to make for 4th of July are a blueberry and strawberry Mojito or white wine berry Sangria. I also like to welcome guests with a red, white and blue Jell-O shot – you are never too old for them! For non-alcoholic beverages, fresh lemonade (American style) or classic sweet tea.
4) Once you have your food and drink game sorted, decorations will put the cherry on top of your festive planning. Amazon and Etsy will be your knights in shining armour for decorations. From food accessories, straws and cutlery, patriotic bunting or tassels, personalised beer can coolers, decorations, confetti crackers, balloons, table confetti, party favours, pet accessories, or beautiful floral display… you can have a lot of fun! Plus, once you purchase them, you can re-use a lot of these decorations next year!
5) I love putting together a playlist for a party, especially a themed party. You will have a great time finding classic rock hits from Born in the USA to modern pop anthems like Party in the USA. A small piece of advice on music, it doesn’t all have to be America themed – add a wide range of music that everyone will love and that will set a fun party vibe.
6) Dress code is where your guests can also add their flare. It doesn’t have to be every year but why not set a fancy-dress theme to really make for a fun night. This could be American icons or just a classic red, white and blue colour dress code. Buy a polaroid camera and set up a station for people to hang their photos from the evening to celebrate all the great outfits!
7) Last but not least, games! Whether you like beer pong, flip cup or classic corn hole, set up a few stations for friends to enjoy American games! If kids are invited, this is a great opportunity to think of some games to occupy their time while the adults enjoy some quality time together.
I love a great party and feel lucky that I can thrive in both cultures and share my traditions. I just celebrated five years living in the UK, first London and now Comber, and feel so blessed for the life I’ve created away from my mother country. Throwing American themed parties are just a small way of feeling home away from home, but the friendships that you can make by welcoming new friends into your home is what really, truly makes living abroad an amazing experience!