Want to start your Fourth of July out on a positive, patriotic note?  Say the Pledge of Allegiance!  

Next, have everyone give one reason why they’re grateful to and for the United States of America.  You’ll be surprised at what you learn. Some of your guests may have families who migrated here or you may hear stories of the first day someone was eligible to vote or work or get a green card. This is a great example to the younger ones and something that they can pass down as family tradition.

Make it a fun, memorable day, but a safe, mannerly one as well.

One of biggest complaints I hear after the Fourth of July is the mess(es) left behind. Here are a few holiday tips to ensure a great Independence Day celebration.

First, it is important to know if fireworks are legal where you live. Check first.

Second, REMEMBER: Fireworks contain toxins.If swallowed by children, adults or pets, the chemicals in fireworks can make them sick,” says Rose Ann G. Soloway, clinical toxicologist with the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C.

Quick Tips For A Safe and Polite July 4th:

1) Jokes and Pranks: Never point or throw fireworks to or toward another person, ever. Many a practical July 4th joke has turned into a senseless July 4th crisis. Fireworks should always be aimed outward and away from people and structures.

2) Tots and Toddlers: Keep fireworks away from small children. If using sparklers, let adults and parents hold them while the younger ones enjoy the show. Older kids and adults – look around to make sure that there are no children in sight before lighting fireworks of any kind.

3) Flammables: Make sure that anything flammable is safely put away before using fire.

4) BBQ Grills: Watch the kids. With all the fun you’re having, it’s easy to lose sight of the little ones. Constantly check to ensure that no toddlers are around the flames or hot grill. A makeshift barricade of patio chairs may just do the trick. Once finished, stash the grill away or place inside a barricade, away from tiny fingers that might get burned.

5) Pets: Most pets become quite alarmed by fireworks. Veterinarians recommend that you keep your pets locked in a safe room. Vets recommend inside over outside for a reason. A pet can become so noise distressed that it can break through a chain or get entangled and choke. A pet can also with its flight/ survival instinct find a way to jump a fence or dig under.

Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are two of the humane society’s biggest days for pet runaways!

Hint: If your pet reacts severely to thunderstorms, then imagine how all that firepower affects them. You might want to have on hand a pheromone spray that supposedly calms down an anxious pet. Check with your vet first!

6) Fires: Be mindful of fires. Each year, property is destroyed and fires blaze out of control because of fireworks. Make sure that you’re not setting off fireworks in an extremely dry area. Safest bet? Set off fireworks near or over a body of water.

7) Fireworks Debris: Clean up fireworks debris. Neighbors get really upset when their pools, driveways and flower beds are littered with the aftermath of your July 4th spectacular. Position your fireworks a reasonable distance away from neighbors and make sure to clean up after yourself.

8) Picnics, Parks, Beaches: Throw away all garbage and leave the area in good condition for the next person.

9) Music: It’s okay to play your music, but it’s not okay to try to drown out your neighbors’ music while in the process. You may certainly have fun, but be considerate of other parties or celebrations taking place close by.

And last, don’t worry, be happy. But . . . be safe and polite as well.

Happy Fourth Everyone!