Entertaining & Gathering

8 Reasons the 4th of July Is the Best Holiday of the Year — Strong Opinions

Sorry, Christmas, you are not the best. Same for you, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Flag Day, and all the other holidays. The 4th of July is America's best holiday of the year. And it should be — it's the country's birthday for crying out loud!

I like to tell people that the 4th of July is like my Christmas. I get so excited about it, I have a hard time falling asleep the nights leading up to the long weekend. I start a Google Doc in early June to start planning the food I want to make, the games I want to play, and the sundresses I want to pack. (Yes, I've done these things for years — even before I earned the honor of hosting the holiday at my house!) Why do I get so darn excited over the holiday? There are a ton of reasons!

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A Menu for an Easy Weeknight Barbecue — Tips from The Kitchn

Weeknight get-togethers are always a bright spot in a regular week, which makes them even more charming and fun. Looking forward to hosting friends or family for dinner during the week is all about planning an easy menu with help from a few make-ahead dishes and as few dishes as possible.

The grill is a great tool in executing both. You can marinate proteins or vegetables in advance and then cook most of your dinner on the grill, which cuts down on sides considerably. Here's my menu for an easy weeknight barbecue, plus some tips and tricks for pulling it off with ease.

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Get This Glass Beverage Dispenser (on Sale Right Now) for Your 4th of July Celebration — Amazon Deal of the Day

If you're hosing a 4th of July party this weekend, you're probably in full-on stock-up mode. We're guessing you're loading up on patriotic paper goods, buns, and fireworks (local ordinances permitting!). There's just one more thing you should get: this two-gallon glass beverage dispenser, which is on sale right now on Amazon for less than $23.

Even if you're not hosting this weekend, you'll need this beverage dispenser for the rest of the summer. And fall, and winter ... you get the point.

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7 Cool Treats That Are Better than Birthday Cakes — Birthdays

It's hard to beat a traditional birthday cake. Unless it's an ice cream cake. Or really anything with ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt — especially when you're celebrating a birthday in the summer. If someone you love happens to be turning another year older in the next couple of months, consider making them one of these cool treats.

Yes, it's hard to put candles in some of these, but remember — you'll probably be outside, and sparklers exist for a reason!

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How I Pulled Off My First Adult Dinner Party (on a 20-Something Budget) — Life in the Kitchen

I've always been in love with the idea of hosting dinner parties. My mother used to host game nights at our house when I was a kid, and she'd also throw parties for milestones throughout the year. As a 20-something adult, I've loved venturing into the playful, well-appointed world of hosting. But working with a tight budget, mismatched flatware (I know we have another fork somewhere around here), and small spaces means the way you go about it looks a little differently.

Here's the thing: That's OK.

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5 Tips for Cooking Iftar for a Crowd — An American Ramadan

Ramadan is a time for reflection, prayer, growth and charity. It is also a time for gathering with family, friends and neighbors for iftar, the end of fast meal at sunset. It can be challenging to prepare an elaborate dinner while feeling the fatigue of fasting, but with these tips you'll have all you need to host an iftar without a hitch.

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