There is no place like home.

So much for camping and escaping the trappings of wifi and watching presidential gifs on Twitter.

My sister had brain surgery a week ago and the family is gathering at my house.

That means a local 4th Of July celebration, which is just fine with me this year.

Don't get me wrong, usually a holiday weekend makes me want to run for the mountains. I have become a lot more fond of trees and mountain clearings full of wildflowers than people.

I suppose that has always been the case, I am just more acutely aware of it when I am unable to escape town.

One of the reasons I began leaving town was the neighbors began including my children in their plans. While you may think of this as a good thing, I wasn't consulted nor asked ahead of time. A few days before the 4th, we got a note with instructions on where and when to be and how to be dressed.

They had planned a "children's parade" and since I had five of the nine children living on the street, that meant my kids were the bulk of the parade.

Nothing more awkward than being invited to a 4th Of July celebration only to be told the husband won't be joining us since he didn't like my politics.

That's mighty American of him, I told her.

Staying in town also means that my dogs and my parent's little yapper chihuahuas will be going berserk all night. Fireworks drive the doggies mad in my house and being in the mountains has always been a nice refuge in recent years.

Then there is the matter of picking a good spot to watch the big display.

Before we took the 4th to the mountains every year, in our old neighborhood we were a block from a really good spot we could just walk to. Neighbors brought their lawn chairs and dollar store glow sticks.

It was all low key for a while, but then word gets around and the spot was just as noisy and traffic-ridden as going to the main park.

Say what you want about the social experience at the main event, a whole night of crowds and waiting around vendors does not appeal to me.

With five kids, that's an endless stream of questions and "no's" to each of them.

There is a reason we went to the dollar store to get the glow sticks and candy, kids.

Which brings me to my pro-tips for a stress free 4th at home.

  1. Go to the dollar store. Buy glow sticks, they are much safer and last much longer than sparklers.
  2. Find your fireworks plan of action early and stick to it. Decide are you a do-it-yourself fireworks family in search of a safe place to play or pure spectator.
  3. Think outside of the crowd. Is there a better spot to see the fireworks than right under them? A friend with a view is a friend indeed. There are also many vantage points you can hike to before the sun sets.
  4. If you stay, stay. Don't rush around at the last minute for a spot. Plan ahead and stay there through the traffic and headaches associated with the crowds. If you chose to hit the main park for the display, plan on sitting there and waiting through the rush. Sitting in your lawn chair is healthier than traffic.
  5. Designate a driver. To heck with stress, let's get buzzed and make someone else drive us home. Say what you want about pregnant women, they make great sober drivers at holiday functions. Find one for your 4th today!
  6. If you go to a friends house to blow up your newly bought American arsenal, do them a solid and show up to clean up the mess the next day.

More From 94.5 KATS