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7 Ways to Prep for the Fourth of July

Summer holidays are a great way to spend time with your close friends and family. To help maximize your time with those loved ones, follow this checklist to get your home ready to celebrate Independence Day in a safe, fun way.

An American flag hangs from a Victorian home iStock

1. Hang Up a Flag

First things first: No patriotic scene is complete without Old Glory. Whether you want to install a front-entry flagpole or place an in-ground flagpole in your yard, make sure you follow the Flag Code, which states the proper guidelines for displaying the American flag.

We've made the Flag Code rules easy to follow: Flag Hanging Dos and Don'ts.

2. Create a Casual Spot for Entertaining

Summer cookouts are best kept fuss-free, and the one for this holiday celebration is no different. A classic picnic table is the perfect outdoor dining spot for hosting friends and family. It takes only one weekend to build your own out of rough-sawn cedar, but it will last for years.

3. Plan Your Menu

If you haven't already done so this year, give your grill an annual checkup to ensure safe, efficient cooking. For details, see: Get Your Grill Ready for the Barbecue Season.

Tired of the same old burgers and hot dogs? Don't be afraid to try your hand at cooking with a charcoal smoker. For those who are truly passionate about BBQ, the investment is well worth it.

4. Choose the Best Fuel for Your BBQ

Fast-lighting briquettes are convenient, but we prefer chemical-free options for fueling up, such as natural briquettes, hardwood lump charcoal, and hardwood logs.

Find more tips: All About Built-in Barbecue Pits: Choose Your Fuel

5. Beat the Bugs

Don't let mosquitoes or other stinging insects prevent you from enjoying the outdoor festivities. Fend them off with our nontoxic ways to keep mosquitoes out of your backyard BBQ.

6. Let Everyone Play Outside

Your yard can be the envy of the neighborhood with the addition of a few games suited to all ages and abilities. While badminton and Wiffle ball are cool, we've got ideas for 13 DIY backyard games and play structures that will keep your family and friends entertained for hours.

7. Watch Some (Safe) Fireworks

What would the Fourth of July be without a fireworks display? Viewing a professional display is a fun community event and the safest way to enjoy the spectacle. But if some types of consumer fireworks are legal in your state, you may choose to set off your own. If that's the case, it's critical that you protect yourself and your family by knowing how to prevent a fire or an emergency-room visit.

Follow our safety tips: Home Fireworks Safety.