With July Fourth already upon us, we turn to our trusty companion, YouTube, to help us plan the perfect last-minute party with patriotic themes. You can paint your nails in a patriotic fashion, dip-dye some shorts into an American flag, or make an Americana wreath, but people only really care about three key things at your Fourth of July party: drinks, grilling, and dessert. For that, YouTube is here to help.

Step 1: Drinks

Layered cocktails

Bethany Motta’s lifestyle channel Bethany’s Life teaches us the fine art of color layering beverages to give you a red, white, and blue appeal. This video isn’t much for making special drinks (cranberry, Sprite, and Gatorade isn’t really our drink of choice) but does give you the key to success with any layered drink choice: Layering is based on sugar content in the drinks. Drinks with the most sugar go at the bottom! 

Americana Jell-O shots

This plays on the same principals of the layered drinks, but requires patience, as you need to give the Jell-O time to set between layers. For an extra treat that'll send your party to the next level, the middle is a panna cotta instead of just more jello. Top it off with a cherry and include alcohol of your choosing if you’re of age.

Step 2: Food (Savory)

BBQ sundaes

We’ll admit these don’t look cute at all, but show us a YouTuber who can make beans, meat, and coleslaw look cute in a mug and we’ll applaud them. These sundaes are functional though, and a great way to avoid overusing paper plates or doing the pesky "balance your plate on top of a drink" dance. Handles are essential. Who cares if it’s cute; it’s tasty.

Bacon steak rolls

There’s no better way to say "America" than by taking steak and wrapping it in bacon and throwing it on a grill. Deceptively easy to make, they're served in hot dog buns, making them the classier alternative to your typical burgers and brats.

Patriotic cheese and fruit spread

Ann Lee (Anneorshine) has a healthier take on your Fourth with a fruit and cheese plate that evokes the colors of America. Strawberries, blueberries, and a mild white cheese (cut into stars for maximum patriotic effect) come together to form a flag that your friends will immediately destroy as they devour the snacks, but hopefully not before you snap some Instagram pictures. This incredibly simple idea is perfect for the last-minute party planner.

Step 3: Food (sweet)

Chocolate flag pretzels

Rosanna Pansino believes that you’ve got pastry bags lying around for your Fourth of July soiree, so let’s pretend. These chocolate flag pretzels are for the more artsy among us who can draw straight lines with melted chocolate and have the patience for icing individual square pretzels into American flags. Let’s all aspire to have it this together for next year.

Captain America ice cream sandwiches

Pansino also gives us something both nerdy and patriotic, and we love it. Plus you get to roll colored cookie dough into shapes that look like those store-bought cookie dough rolls and impress your friends with your mad baking skills.

American bald eagle cake

If you’re as good as the folks Gastro Lab and can draw a bald eagle on a cake, what are you even doing reading this list? Can we come to your party?

Photo via Brandon Zeman/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)