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Don't let the stress of planning a great party get the best of you! Click through to shop party essentials, check out helpful tips and peep some drool-worthy food inspiration that will help your Fourth of July party go off without a hitch!
Step One: Consider an Outdoor Setting
Your party setting is key, and I recommend picking an open and airy (read: outdoor) venue that lends itself to barbecues and sparklers as the sun sets. This may not be entirely possible in a cramped city, so instead opt for a rooftop party or see if there is a public park space that you can reserve for an afternoon.
Step Two: Achieve the Right Balance of Decorations
I love a themed party with corresponding decorations, but please, for the sake of your guests, do not go overboard on the red, white and blue. A simple stars-and-stripes garland will set the mood, and you can stick to primary accent colors for the rest of your servingware.
Click through to shop festive garlands and decor to set the mood at your party!

Step Three: Have Good Food On Hand
Potlucks are always a great option, since there will be less cooking and clean-up involved on your end. Plus, most guests are always happy to bring one of their special recipes to share. But if you tend to be a bit of a control freak (like me—no shame!), another great option is to make dishes that are easy to prepare in bulk and equally easy to eat—think finger foods.
Click through to shop festive servingware—and to check out some easy food ideas so your guests won't be left hungry!
The Food: Chips & Dip
Chips and dip are a given for any party, but instead of going for the conventional guacamole, why not mix things up by throwing another ingredient like mango or lump crab into the mix? My spirit guide (Martha Stewart, duh) has a good recipe.
Don't forget that you'll need a serving dish for your chips and dip. Your friends may be starving, but let's keep things civil, okay?
Watermelons are the epitome of summer, so a watermelon serving bowl only seems logical. It's perfect for chips and popcorn, fruit—the possibilities are vast! Plus, you'll surely use it year after year.
The Food: BBQ Sliders
Pulled pork sliders are so easy to make—just throw everything into a crock pot, and it'll do the rest of the work for you. You'll be able to make enough food to feed a small army!
The Food: Mac N' Cheese Muffins
Mac and cheese is one of the most American foods on the planet, and now you can make it in finger food form with these handy baked mac n' cheese muffins. I mean, just look at those things. #dying
The Food: Fruit Kabobs
If you're not much of a cook, fruit kabobs are a great appetizer to serve. You can use any combination of fruit that you please, and there's no cooking involved! Plus, they're actually kind of healthy, which will obviously undo all of the damage from those mac n' cheese muffins.
Admittedly the crane is not particularly Fourth of July-themed, but it's certainly a cool serving dish to use time and time again, regardless of the occasion.
The more levels of plate space you have, the more food you'll be able to serve—and therefore, eat!
The Food: Cookies
It wouldn't be a proper USA Day party if you didn't have a traditional American dessert staple. I'm talking about cookies! Don't they just taste like your all-American suburban childhood?
While I'm always an advocate of the classic Toll House chocolate chip recipe, festively shaped sugar cookies will be equally crowd-pleasing without pushing the decor into kitsch territory.
The Party Drinks
You could simply fill a cooler with a bunch of beer and soda, or you could go all out and create your very own specialty summer cocktail and serve it in a punch bowl. Either way works, but one is certainly cooler than the other.
It may not be a snazzy ice sculpture, but a punch bowl containing a delicious beverage will surely be a great centerpiece for any smorgasbord.
Step Four: Curate the Ultimate Playlist
Personally, I find Songza to be the best for playlists—it has hundreds of playlists within a hundred more genres for you to choose from, so you don't actually have to go and do all of the hard work of creating a playlist from scratch. Of course, if you're up for the challenge, there's always Spotify and iTunes.