Go directly to the prepared-food section. Let each person pick out his or her own prepackaged meal. Or buy a bucket of fried chicken…or if it’s just you big kids, get a bottle of chilled wine (most major wine and beer distributors will be open), a rotisserie chicken (or two) and your favorite sides prepared from the deli. Don’t forget the Handy Wipes!

A picnic is a great way to reserve an early spot before the fireworks. If you’re feasting in an area where wildflowers are growing (and you’re allowed to pick them), bring along an empty coffee can or a jar. Once you get to the picnic grounds, pick some flowers, put them in the coffee can and fill the can with water…or sand…or soil…or pebbles. Then put the floral arrangement on your picnic spot or blanket (or tailgate, if the fireworks are off a parking lot) for all to enjoy nature’s beauty. If you’re lucky enough to have picnic tables at your disposal, be sure to bring a decorative plastic table cloth to keep things tidy. Happy Fourth of July!

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