What’s a Fourth of July celebration without fireworks?
Cheaper, for one. Safer, quieter, less likely to burn down a house or an entire forest. If fireworks are not your thing, the reasons are endless. But going fireworks-free doesn’t have to be boring. Add festivity to your freedom celebration with these alternatives, from easiest to most time-consuming:
Pop Rocks. These tiny candies are a Fourth of July celebration in your mouth. The sensation is made by exposing the candy syrup to pressurized carbon dioxide, which causes bubbles to be trapped. When the hardened candy comes into contact with saliva, the gas bubble breaks. Multiply this effect and a hundred tiny fireworks go off in your mouth without the explosion.
Glow sticks. A favorite of concert-goers and toddlers alike, glow sticks allow people of all ages to enjoy colorful light in the dark. Take a handful and throw them up in the air and call it a firework. Or wear them, throw them around, play a game with them — whatever you do, the colored light will last longer than your attention span. And the plastic containing it will last until Fourth of July 3019.
LED balloons. If balloons are festive, than ones with lights must be more so. You can buy balloons with tiny LED lights in them or assemble your own. Bat them around the yard, strew them around the ground, throw them in the pool or, if you’re feeling really patriotic, hang them from a net for a balloon release. Alternately you can put a glow stick in a balloon and achieve almost the same result.
Diet Coke and Mentos. If you haven’t tried this one yet, this is your time. Yes, you can just drop Mentos into an open bottle of Diet Coke for a foaming fountain. (Yes, it has to be Mentos, yes, it has to be Diet Coke.) Or you can create a Mentos Rocket by securing a row of Mentos to the lid using masking tape and quickly securing the lid back to the bottle. For those with plenty of Diet Coke, Mentos and time to spare, more experiments can be found online. Whatever you do, it’ll be a mess, so dress for the occasion and give your sugar rocket space to explode — without taking you or anyone else out.
Colorful campfire. Fire works better than fireworks for some people. Build a fire and roast your marshmallows — red, white and blue ones, of course — but before you douse those flames, put on a pyrotechnic show of your own. Certain chemicals safely turn flame different colors — for example, calcium chloride turns flame blue, lithium chloride turns it pink. The good news for people who don’t have a chemistry lab handy is that these fire colorants are available for purchase.
Confetti launcher. If you have small children that you want to entertain for the afternoon, you’ll want to consider making a confetti launcher. All a confetti launcher is is a toilet paper tube with the bottom tied half of a balloon taped to one end. The sneaky part is that you’ll have your kids cut their own confetti using paper and scissors and that will take a while. You put their hard-earned confetti in the tube, pull the balloon and let go: confetti is now everywhere. And now you get to clean it up. How festive.
Pinata. No, pinatas don’t figure into traditional American celebrations, but what’s more American than stealing good ideas from other cultures? And when laughter, candy and breaking something are involved, it becomes all the more fun. You can buy a pinata or make your own.