4th of July Cookout Ideas

For many, the Fourth of July brings fireworks, visits with friends and family, and outdoor activities. Sometimes, these outdoor activities include cookouts with food and drinks. Sometimes, these drinks include alcohol.

This can make holiday-related cookouts a challenge for people in recovery. They might wonder how to spend time with their friends and family in the presence of a substance that has had such a profound impact in their lives.

Fortunately, people don’t need alcohol or drugs to have a good time. Here are some alcohol-free ways to enjoy a holiday cookout:



Frozen drinks

Kids love frozen drinks and desserts. So do adults. They’re cold, fruity, and don’t require alcohol to satisfy. You can combined crush ice and flavored syrup to make your own frozen drink:


Simple strawberry syrup


2 cups of quartered strawberries (or fruit of your choice)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water



Combine the sugar and water and cook in a saucepan using medium-high heat. Stir until you dissolve the sugar. Add the strawberries to the sugar-water mixture and bring it to a boil; then boil it for 10 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture until the sauce is thick and the strawberries are mushy. This should take around 10 minutes or so. Strain or keep the strawberries and refrigerate the mixture. You can add this mixture to crushed ice, ice cream, or other foods.

Or, if you don’t want to make this syrup yourself (or can’t), you can purchase flavored syrups, lemonade, or carbonated beverages to add flavor to crushed ice, drinks, and desserts.





Playing sports can help keep you busy. You don’t have to have the competitive spirit of the Kennedys playing football at Hyannis Port, but engaging in sports can keep your mind and body occupied. Other ideas for outdoor sporting activities include:

• Beanbag toss games
• Frisbee
• Badminton
• Kickball
• Volleyball
• Blowing and chasing soap bubbles

Exercise can also reduce stress, which can contribute to substance abuse. Some researchers believe that elevating the heart rate can help reverse stress-related brain damage.




Many Fourth of July parties are outside in the hot summer weather, so take care to stay cool while you’re celebrating.

Consider using water to stay cool. You can:

• Host your celebrations near a pool, ocean, lake, or river.
• Fill balloons with water and have a water balloon fight.
• Buy lawn sprinklers. (Who says only kids can run through sprinklers?)
• Bring extra water and ice.

Alcohol abuse and hot weather can dehydrate you, so make sure to drink (and play in water) to stay hydrated, happy, and cool. Happy Fourth of July!