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4th of July Party To-Do List: What to prepare 3 days before Independence Day for a successful party

The 4th of July is this Friday and it’s time to make your preparations for your Independence Day barbecue. You need to get the yard work done, decide on decorations and go shopping before July 4th. Here is a list of ideas and preparations you might want to make to get ready for your Fourth of July Party.

Sometimes I plan a party and forget important details that require more time and preparation than I can manage because when I finally remembered it was too late to do anything about it. At that point I have to make-do. This Independence Day I don’t want you to have to make-do for your backyard barbecue. I want you to have a good shot at everything being exactly the way you envisioned. Obviously this list won’t have EVERYTHING you need to do to get ready, but it will get you started and you can add your own items to the list.

3 Days before


Even though this party is going to be in the backyard there will still be guests in and out of the house for one reason or another. Be sure traffic areas are clean including the kitchen, living room, bathroom, entry and hallways.

Pre 4th of July Party: Housework
Get the house cleaned up so you can focus on other things like food and decorating.

Yard work

Mow the lawn, trim the hedge, whatever needs to be done to make the place look good, do it! Getting this project knocked off your list a few days before the party will help so you can focus all your energy on the fun stuff, like decorating.

Pre 4th of July Party: Yard Work
Make your yard look beautiful for your 4th of July party.

Shopping list

In the evening when the work is finished decide what food you will be serving, identify your recipes, check to see what ingredients you will need and make up a shopping list. Don’t forget to add propane or charcoal to the list depending on the kind of grill you have. Also, remember to check and see that you have a working lighter and that it’s not almost empty.

Add to your shopping list anything you might need for the decorations or prizes for the activities, especially for any kids you might have at this party.

  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Paper products
  • Propane/Charcoal
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Sparklers and other legal fireworks
  • Decoration necessities as needed
  • Prizes for the games and activities

4th of July Party Shopping List
Prepare a shopping list to make sure you don’t forget anything.

2 Days Before


I recommend getting up early in the morning to get this done if you can. I don’t love shopping for groceries in a crowded store, especially just before a holiday. This is also why doing this at least two days before is ideal. Also, if you forget something important, like propane or charcoal, you still have time to get that.

Pre 4th of July Party: Shopping
Don’t forget the charcoal and/or propane!

Clean the Grill

Scrub and oil the grill grates. Depending on the state of your grill this hopefully won’t be a super involved process, but if it is then you are not going to want to save this job till later. If the carbon build-up on the grate is really bad and soap isn’t doing the job you might try putting the grate in the oven on the clean setting. That will save you some time and elbow grease plus your oven will get a good cleaning as well. You might want to save this till the evening since doing this is going to heat up the house. After the clean mode on the oven has finished and the oven has cooled completely (that may take until morning), take the grate out and wipe down both the grate and the oven so they are free of ash. Don’t forget to oil the grate when it’s clean.

Pre 4th of July Party: Clean the Grill
Scrub and oil the grill grates.


While the grate is baking in the oven, this is a good time to make any DIY decorations like a festive banner, and compile a fun and festive music playlist to help put your guests at ease. I made an Independence Day Decoration IdeasLink opens in a new tab board on Pinterest just in case you need ideas.

1 Day Before

Food Prep

This is a good time to begin marinating the meat and preparing any dishes that can be done the day before.

Pre 4th of July Party: Food Prep
Prepare everything short of cooking the meat before your guests arrive.

Clean the Patio

Clean the patio furniture if it needs it. Set up the patio so that everyone can move smoothly though the buffet line past the grill and around the tables. Clear the pathways and put away the garden hose.

Pre 4th of July Party: Clean the Patio
Clean the patio and furniture.

Last Minute Groceries

This is also the day for a last minute trip to the store for anything that couldn’t be purchased three days before and anything that you may have forgotten. Good luck, the store is going to be busy. Thankfully you already did most of your shopping so this will be a quick trip.

The Day of – Independence Day!


Whatever food still needs to be made, short of cooking the meat depending on what you have planned, now is the time to do that.

4th of July Party: Cooking
Berries make an excellent side dish for a 4th of July Party.


This is my favorite part of party planning, the moment when everything you’ve been planning and preparing comes together. Now you can put up those fantastic decorationsLink opens in a new tab you’ve been working on. Hang the bistro lights, set up the torches, or whatever you’ve got for when it gets dark outside.


Set up any yard games activities so they are ready to go: volleyball, badminton, beanbag toss, croquet, a scavenger hunt for the kids, fill the water balloons, etc.

4th of July Party: Games
Croquet is a great game for a backyard barbecue for Independence Day.

Finishing Touches

Set up any blankets and chairs so everyone will be comfortable. Start the music playlist. Bring the food out and light up the grill. Now, stop and take a second to admire your work and Instagram this moment, then share it with me. I want to see what you came up with. Your guests will be so impressed and have such a great time because you thought of everything and it looks amazing.

Enjoy Yourself!