It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without fireworks. Except sometimes it has to be. When the nearest fireworks display isn’t so near, there are still several ways to have a safe and sparkly Fourth without breaking the bank – or any laws. Take a look at some of these creative ways to light up the sky (or the ground) and make special memories for kids when a fireworks display isn’t an option.

Related: 4th of July Fireworks Safety Checklist


Sparklers, Fireworks, July 4th,

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Legally sold in discount stores and supermarkets, inexpensive boxed sparklers are a safe way to get an entry level fireworks fix. In addition to traditional light sticks, some online outlets even sell neon sparklers that burn with a burst of color. Younger children will definitely need to be supervised when using these, though, and a bucket of water should be available to toss the hot sparklers into after they burn out.

Multi-Colored Glow Sticks

Glow Sticks, Fireworks, July 4th

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Glow sticks come in all shapes, sizes and colors and are a perfect way to put on a homegrown light show. Most dollar stores sell bracelet and necklace style glow sticks, which can be used to illuminate everyone — and everything — at your party. For a larger light show, glow sticks can be bought in bulk and are surprisingly inexpensive.

LED Rope Lights

Rope Lights, Lights, July 4th

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Unique light graffiti can be created with flexible LED rope, which can be purchased at a hardware or home improvement store. The clear and multi-colored rope lights can be shaped into a variety of designs or used to spell out words. LED rope is usually sold in bulk spools, which means you will have a whole lot of light to work with.

Sky Lanterns

Sky Lanterns, Lights, July 4th

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Popular for centuries in Asia, sky lanterns are essentially small hot air balloons made of thin paper that have an opening at the bottom where a small wax fuel cell is used to launch them. The lanterns are then released into the sky, and in this case, the more the merrier. Also known as Kongming or Chinese lanterns, these balloon-style light carriers come in assorted colors and can be purchased at specialty stores or online. Obviously, adult supervision is a must when handling sky lanterns.

Related: DIY July 4th Crafts For Your Backyard Party

Jar Fireworks

Jar Lights, Lights, July 4th

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If you’re looking for some bright color, here’s a portable way to create a mini “fireworks” display in a jar. All that is needed is a glass jar, vegetable oil, and several colors of food coloring. Fill the jar three-quarters of the way with warm water and set aside. Put three tablespoons of oil in a small bowl, then add several drops of each food coloring color to it.  Use a fork to mix up the oil and food coloring until small beads begin to form.  Pour the mixture into the jar of water (slowly!) and as the liquids combine it will create an encased color explosion.

Fire Pit/Camp fire

Camp Fire, Lights, July 4th

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And finally, when the sun sets on July 4th, why not light up a fire pit or make a campfire in the yard? Not only will the roar of a fire light up your outdoor area, it will provide your party with some crackling sound effects. Best of all, it also paves the way for the perfect marshmallow-toasting opportunity.

Victoria Miller is a freelance entertainment writer who also covers recreation and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. Her work can be found on