Not a Fireworks Fan?
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15 Safe, Fireworks-Free Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July

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Not a Fireworks Fan?
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Not a Fireworks Fan?

Fireworks on the Fourth of July are an American tradition, but not everyone loves them. Large public displays of fireworks are typically crowded, loud, and can be a scary event for young kids or people with sensory disorders. Chances are good your pets don't love them, either. Backyard displays seem like fun, but can be dangerous and aren't always legal, depending on your location. Here are non-firework options that are just as exciting and fun for celebrating the Fourth of July.

Host a Backyard Fourth of July-Themed Movie Night
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Host a Backyard Fourth of July-Themed Movie Night

Collect a few large cardboard boxes and provide a few red, white, and blue craft supplies. Party planner Sara Pattison recommends having each child create their own patriotic drive-in movie seat out of the boxes. Show a patriotic, family-friendly movie projected on a white hanging sheet as the screen and serve festive snacks like a red, white, and blue punch and Pop Rocks for candy. A popcorn bar that includes red, white, and blue M&Ms or Nerds to decorate their popcorn is sure to score with kids.

Set up a Glow-in-the-Dark Activity Table
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Set up a Glow-in-the-Dark Activity Table

Consider lighting up the night without all of the noise and safety concerns. "Glow-in-the-dark is the best for Fourth of July, as parties can go into the evenings and this really lets kids experience the night in a new safe way," says Sara Pattison, owner of The Perfect Party Planner. "Set up a glow-in-the-dark kid's table!" Glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark sunglasses, bracelets, necklaces, even these glow-in-the-dark helicopter launchers on Amazon for $19, will offer hours of illuminating fun for little ones — and even adults. Anything goes here and you can find it for cheap on Amazon.

Organize a Fourth of July-Themed Scavenger Hunt
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Organize a Fourth of July-Themed Scavenger Hunt

A quick search on Pinterest will reveal tons of scavenger hunt ideas for kids. We like the idea of making it Fourth of July-themed to get everyone in the holiday mood. Things to include in your scavenger hunt: something red, something white, and something blue. Other Americana favorites can include hotdogs, hamburgers, the American flag, and a baseball (the all American sport).

Attend a Parade
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Attend a Parade

There are so many parades to honor the Fourth of July, it's possible to find one in almost every town and city. Find the nearest to you and enjoy it with the family.

Create Patriotic Slime
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Create Patriotic Slime

No special occasion would be complete without slime. It's all the rage among the younger set, so why not turn it into a Fourth of July activity? You can find DIY slime recipes online like the one from The Farm Girl Gabs that have a patriotic theme. Decorate the slime with red-and-white glitter as well as red-and-blue star confetti. Store it in zip lock bags or disposable condiment containers. This is the perfect sensory activity to keep the kids occupied for hours.

Organize a Pet Parade
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Organize a Pet Parade

Instead of heading to a parade, create your own. Gather a few pet parents that you know and let the kids (or grown-ups) dress the pets in patriotic duds. You can even provide some things to get them started such as red-and-blue bandanas (a pack of 12 can be found on Amazon for $16), balloons, and streamers. Invite some onlookers (neighbors and friends), and parade the furry group down your street.

Glow-Stick-Bomb
Glow-Stick-Bomb by Daniel Garcia (CC BY-NC-ND)

Set up Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling

Party planner Sara Pattison also recommends glow-in-the-dark bowling as a family favorite. "Take six empty tall plastic bottles and add glow sticks for the pins," she says. "You could use any ball, but a hamster ball would be fun. Just add glow sticks."

Plan a Bike Parade
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Plan a Bike Parade

Take the costume contest idea one step further and have each kiddo decorate their bike. Provide red, white, and blue materials like streamers, balloons, flags, and glitter. Let the kids have at it and see what they come up with, then parade them around for the neighborhood to see.

Spray the Beard off Uncle Sam
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Spray the Beard off Uncle Sam

This one comes from Parenting the Principal. Simply create two Uncle Sams out of cheap, clear, plastic plates and construction paper. Leave off the beards. Hang them up and fill in the beard with shaving cream. Provide two spray bottles filled with water and have kids see who can spray the beard off the fastest.

Get Creative with Glow-in-the-Dark Sidewalk Chalk
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Get Creative with Glow-in-the-Dark Sidewalk Chalk

Crayola makes a glow-in-the-dark sidewalk chalk, party planner Sara Pattison points out. If you can't find them, there are tons of DIY recipes online like the one on the blog Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Create a Glow-in-the-Dark Water Balloon Toss
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Create a Glow-in-the-Dark Water Balloon Toss

Another glow in the dark idea: glow-in-the-dark water balloons. It's easy to do yourself according to party planner Sara Pattison. Just fill a water balloon with water and add a glow stick. You can even let the kids help by having them crack all the sticks while you add a stick to each water balloon.

Pack a Family Picnic
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Create a Glow-in-the-Dark Ring Toss
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Create a Glow-in-the-Dark Ring Toss

Repurpose the tall plastic bottles you use for bowling to make a glow-in-the-dark ring toss. Use glow-in-the-dark necklaces as the rings, party planner Sara Pattison suggests.

Host a Patriotic Costume Contest
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Host a Patriotic Costume Contest

Make getting dressed up it a friendly affair. Gather the neighbors, and have the kids create their own patriotic costumes. Then, have them march out and let the grown-ups be the judges. Award everyone a small prize to make it even more exciting.

Create Confetti Balloons
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Create Confetti Balloons

If water balloons aren't your cup of tea, how about fun confetti balloons for a little pop instead of a bang on the Fourth of July? All you need are balloons, confetti, a funnel, and an air pump. Find the directions to make these fun and festive balloons that will be sure to please a crowd at Moore Minutes.