Fourth of July is here and you know what that means – time to paint your face with the colors of the star-spangled banner, put on your summer hat and head outdoors to celebrate Independence Day with your closest family and friends. And what is a 4th of July party without age-old food traditions!

Since Fourth of July celebrations take place in summer, most people across the nation prefer spending it out in the open, holding barbeque parties in their backyards or by setting up local picnics where the entire neighborhood can gather to have a gala time. This also gives them an opportunity to reserve a good spot for nightfall to watch the fireworks ceremony.

Being a national holiday, the day is known for people letting loose and taking the time to know their neighbors better. And since full bellies make for jovial moods, even the most health conscious people forego the habit of counting calorie and start packing on the freshly baked fruit pies and barbecue ribs.

Having an outdoor celebration instead of a sit-down dinner also means there is an obvious change in the menu for the day. Instead of stews and noodles (which are more suited to an indoor feast) dishes like sliders, chicken wings and tacos are opted. And if you are planning a bonfire at night, s’mores are a must as you wait for the shower of multicolored lights shoot across the sky.

Some Fourth of July food traditions that have formed over the ages include favorites like strawberry shortcakes, salads made of seasonal vegetables and choice of meat, Sloppy Joes and most traditional of all – the U.S. flag cake.

Anyone organizing a Fourth of July party also must remember to have plenty of chips and an array of dips which people can munch on. Another thing to keep in mind is to have “to-go” bags for whoever wants to take some leftovers home from the party.