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Get ready for an above-average 4th of July weekend with these 4 must-haves

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The 4th of July weekend is major party weekend. People are serious about their Freedom Day parties. To make sure you are ready for your commitment to summer fun, I've got games you should play, bug repellent tricks, and even reminders for those of you taking in music festivals.

1. A hammock

Hey ladies.

They always look sort of dumb in stores — gimmicky or something — but when I lie in a hammock on a pleasantly-warm day I suddenly wonder why we even USE mattresses. Hammocks are great to have around for all-day parties, when people traipse in and out and some of them eat both lunch and dinner at your house, and some of them take naps. Even NPR touts hammocks as better for sleeping.

Amazon seems to have the best offering of my normal haunts — so I picked a couple of the more highly-rated. The poorly-lit blonde lady above is in a Rada Hammock, which runs about $65 shipped in the US and is made to hang between two trees.

The Castaway runs $140 and is freestanding…meaning you also need a stand for $140.

So. Hammock. It. Up.

2. Bug Repellent

Here are some non-Off ways to keep the bugs away when you're out on the deck. They don't all go on your body, so read carefully.

  • Dab a little vanilla or lavendar extract on your pulse points. Many insects don't like the smell.
  • Plant basil, catnip, marigolds, peppermint and rosemary in pots around the area. Many insects don't like those smells, either.
  • Add fire. The main trick of citronella candles is just that they produce smoke. So whatever works for you: candles, torches, a fire pit — smoke keeps insects away.
  • Bug zapper. I don't think they reduce bugs much, but they do make me feel like I am still more powerful than insects, even when they are eating me alive.

3. Blankets

A good outdoor blanket is indispensable. Whether you want to grab one for a picnic or you have cold-blooded friends who catch a chill at 70 degrees, it's nice to have something rough and tumble and lovable.

Get a zarape. You know, one of these things.

Checando la calidad de la melcocha

Photo by Plumerio Pipichas. Used under Creative Commons license.

They're exactly the type of indoor-outdoor blanket that makes the difference between discomfort and a cozy night. Even in July.

I honestly can't find a great online shop for these. Amazon has a number of them, of course. If you know of a good zarape dealer, one with such info as a blanket's fiber type in the description, maybe — drop a link in the comments.

Army blankets are itchy, but sturdy. Most places probably have an army surplus store nearby, but they're all over the internet, too.

4. Outdoor games


Croquet. So fun, takes very little skill level, and it's a game even garden drunks can manage to keep up with. You can find them in antique and vintage stores, and on Etsy.

Bocce Ball makes me feel very classy. Unlike cornhole and its sister games, where I'm flopping a bean bag around on the lawn, bocce makes me feel dainty.

Me? I think I'm spending the weekend at a music festival, so I've got a different sort of planning to do.

Hitting a music fest? This list is for you:

  • Lots of fests post dos and don'ts on their websites. Check them — then you can know if you can bring in water bottles and bags or if you'll have to buy drinks and wear pants with pockets.
  • Bring sunscreen.
  • Prep a poncho. I bring the small type of poncho so I can tuck it in the back of my waistband if I don't have a bag. My festival philosophy is clearly travel light.

Stay safe, and have fun this weekend — hopefully more fun with these preparatory ideas.

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About Cat Rocketship

I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things.