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Have more fun this 4th of July!

Yee-haw!
Yee-haw!
Robin Craig

Fourth of July is just around the corner. Keep these tips in mind to get the most fun out of your celebration.

Don't compare yourself to others- Browsing the internet for inspiration is great, but it can make even the craftiest of us feel inadequate. Don't stress if your creations aren't quite as fantastic as those made by the professionals. Martha Stewart has a team of crafty little minions helping her put together over-the-top celebrations. You do not.

Keep it simple- Throw some meat on the grill, prepare a few simple sides that can be served cold/room temperature, and set out a cooler of drinks. Better yet, make it a potluck, and just grill the entree. Everyone else can bring the sides.

Include kids in preparation- Put out some craft supplies and let kids dream up some fun decorations. Kids can also decorate cupcakes for the party, or pick flowers for a simple centerpiece. They'll be thrilled to see their handiwork on display, and the activity will keep them busy while you prepare everything else.

Focus on fun- Plan around what your family enjoys doing, and you're sure to have a memorable holiday. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, hula hoops, and large bouncy balls help keep kids busy outdoors while adults chat. Want to get the whole family in on the fun? Consider a good natured game of soccer, softball, or even tag.

Be honest with yourself- Will hosting a huge celebration really be more fun than a small cookout with your family? Will spending 6 hours creating an exact replica of the American flag on your cake make it any more delicious? Is going to a parade really worth scouring the streets for parking, and fighting your way through the crowds? If not, don't do it. Save your efforts for the things that your family will enjoy most.

Don't be a martyr- If you choose to throw an over-the-top celebration, remember that nobody forced you to work so hard. If you find yourself overwhelmed, ask for help. Your family won't remember all the hours of preparation you put in, but they will remember your attitude. Don't ruin all your beautiful celebrations with a sourpuss, or the wonderful memories you're trying to create will be lost.