Celebrating 4th of July as Americans Living Abroad

celebrating 4th of july

One thing I feel strongly about is celebrating our American holidays abroad. I do this mostly for my children, I want them to have memories and traditions that connect them to their culture. If you’ve followed my blog for some time you know that we have quite a few cultures that we take into account when holidays roll around: Mexican, North American and Ecuadorian. I really like the holidays that let us focus on one particular culture like 4th of July or Cinco de Mayo.

We have been going back and forth between the U.S. and Ecuador for the past 8 years, going on 9 years this coming fall. We have celebrated 4th of July in various ways so hopefully some of the ideas below encourage you to celebrate in your own neck of the woods outside of the U.S. Sometimes it has been with all Ecuadorians because there were no U.S. expats around and at other times it’s been with a mix of U.S. expats and Ecuadorians. Then there have been those times when we just had a family gathering because no one was around. If you are an expat you’re very familiar with the summer mass exodus.  I actually love this time to just be in our host country.

july 4th flowers

Celebrating 4th of July as Americans Living Abroad

There have been many times when I didn’t have U.S. theme decor so I just made it from scratch using construction paper, flowers and/or tissue paper. But when I remember I do try to get some simple decor in the U.S. when we are in town.

Local U.S. Embassy or consulate– Our first year here in Quito the U.S. Embassy invited to their July 4th event. It was just nice to celebrate with other U.S. expats our first year away. Since then we didn’t make it back on their invite list. I would encourage you to write or call your local U.S. embassy and find out if there are any 4th of July events they are hosting that you can attend. 

cookout july 4th

Cookout – This is simple and has always been a go-to 4th of July activity for us.  We usually gather the expats that are around and have a bring your own meat cook out and the guest bring a side or dessert to share.

july 4th

Start or continue a tradition– Is there a tradition that you enjoyed growing up for 4th of July? Then keep it going in your new home country. We made homemade ice cream and you can do this anywhere even if you’re doing it the old school way with ziplock bags like I show you HERE.  I actually made it a priority to fit our ice cream churner into our suitcases when moving abroad. Another fun thing is to just have a meal around the 4th of July theme. Breakfast for dinner! I share more here.


Another fun tradition you can do is have a family water fight! We did this last year and it was such simple and great fun that we all enjoyed.

confetti poppers

Fireworks– If you don’t want to do host anything or go to a gathering but still want to do one of the iconic 4th of July traditions then go out and buy some fireworks and have your own little fireworks show in your backyard. (Make sure you’re allowed to in your area.)  And if you don’t have fireworks you can always use confetti poppers (go HERE to see how to make your own)!

outdoor movie

Movie Night – Last night we added one of my all time favorite activities to our cook out–outdoor movie!  We brought out the projector, blankets and froze our butts off watching a family movie.  HERE are some of our fun Movie Night ideas.

camping 3

Camping– Summer camping is another our all time favorite summer activities! Last year, we packed up our bags and headed for the outdoors and had an awesome 4th of July camping time with friends.  HERE are some of the fun things we enjoyed on our 4th of July campout.

july 4th photo booth

Fun Photo Booth – I found these fun printables here and then I set up a simple background and had friends take pictures.

4th of July smoothie

4th of July Treat – Just enjoy a 4th of July treat. I made this Strawberry Cheesecake Shake this morning for myself. Don’t worry this version was healthy.

july 4th treats 2

And you can’t go wrong with rice krispy treats. HERE I made them into a star wand with red, white and blue sprinkles.

Listen to Patriotic Music – I know many expat kids who do not know what the U.S. National Anthem is and my kids probably don’t either even though we are intentional about telling them about it. So we have our kids listen to the U.S. National Anthem- Star Spangled Banner and we talk about why we celebrate 4th of July. At one point my husband would have them listen to it at least once a week.

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