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Independence Day 2012: Enjoy a Frugally Festive 4th of July

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Another fabulous 4th of July is upon us, and frankly, I adore this holiday.  It’s summertime, everything is getting gorgeously green, the kids are off from school, things are a bit more relaxed, and honestly, I love having a holiday that celebrates American independence. 

Best of all, a perfectly patriotic get-together with family and friends doesn’t have to break the bank, if you know where to shop!

The Decorations – Nothing says Independence Day like a house decorated in over-the-top amounts of red, white and blue.  Your best interior 4th of  July Decorationsdecorators will be the kids, whose “more is better” attitude will lend itself beautifully to a finished effect that Betsy Ross herself would be proud of.  

Best place to shop for materials is your local dollar store, where miles of red, white and blue streamers await you, as well as scissors, markers, glue and (if you’re feeling brave) glitter.  Show even a minimum of care to these festive accessories and you’ll find they store beautifully in a nearby drawer for next year’s parties (not to mention Memorial Day, Flag Day & Veterans Day). While you’re at the dollar store, stock up on your red, white & blue paper plates, napkins, cups and cutlery as well.

The Movies – I took an informal poll of friends and family to see what movies hit the patriotic mark, and got a fabulous list of favorites.  My personal pick is the 1942 Classic “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney.  Family and friends chimed in with the excellent suggestions of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and one of my all-time-favorites, “Saving Private Ryan” as must-sees.  I have no teenagers in my house as of yet, but I’m assured by others in the know that the 1996 “Independence Day” is required viewing by those between the ages of 14-18.  Good to know.

The Food – This holiday calls for a day out of the kitchen, with a menu based entirely around your grill!  My advice is to keep it simple (and inexpensive) with burgers and hotdogs.  If your guest list calls for a few steaks and some seafood, start scouting out the sales at your local supermarket now, and keep them in the freezer until the big day.   Best bets for side dishes include chips and salsa, potato salad, popsicles and patriotic red and blue berries covered in impressive amounts of whipped cream.

The Fireworks – Don’t even think about setting off your own; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Do-It-Yourself-Fireworks” stories that ended with less than festive results.  Nothing says Independence Day buzzkill like an impromptu visit to your local emergency room.  Instead, set off on a Google search of nearby parks with a free display, grab a blanket out of the closet and scout out a place in the park where you can enjoy a beautiful summer night sky filled with free fireworks…set off by trained professionals far, far away.

Here’s to a fabulously frugal 4th of July – Happy Independence Day, everybody.  God Bless America!

Kristen Hagopian hosts “The Brilliant Frugal Living Show” Tuesdays at 11A on Philadelphia’s WFYL 1180AM.  Her next Brilliant Frugal Living Conference is October 22nd in West Chester, with $5 of every ticket sold being donated to the Chester County Food Bank to assist families in need.  Log onto www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com for more information!

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Photo of decorated house from hookedonhouses.net