Have a Blast: Family-Friendly Firework Alternatives

Going to see Fourth of July fireworks is a much-beloved tradition, but if you can't make it to the big show this year, these crafts, games, and snacks hit an equally explosive note -- with oohs and aahs to spare.

Balloon Fireworks

Dazzling visuals are part of the fun, but fireworks wouldn't be the same without that singular sonic boom. These confetti balloons explode with all the acoustic force of the real thing.

To make, pull a balloon over a funnel. Pour in confetti until balloon is a quarter full; inflate with a hand pump. Use a sharpened pencil for popping.

Safety note: Be sure to supervise; kids under 8 should never handle un-inflated balloons or broken balloon pieces.

Vanishing Confetti

If you plan to pop your balloons outdoors (or toss some celebratory confetti), choose an eco-friendly filler. Shreds of biodegradable paper melt in the rain, letting you impress without the mess.

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Sponge Ball

Kitchen sponges star in summer's answer to the snowball fight -- like water balloons with many lives to live.

Three 1/2-by-2 3/4-by-4 1/4-inch sponges

1. With a pen and a ruler, make five lines lengthwise on a sponge, each 1/2 inch apart.

2. Use scissors to cut the sponge, using the lines as a guide, into six rods. Repeat with the other two sponges.

3. Lay strips on top of each other in three layers, five to six to a layer. Cinch them across the middle with a piece of string; knot it tightly. Fluff pieces out into a ball.

Sprinkler Games

Hot days should be heavy on the H2O. A stint of aquatic frolicking will extinguish the urges of even the biggest pyromaniac.

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Patriotic Pinata

What explodes like a firework, but tastes like a treat? A pinata, of course! Craft one in a patriotic star or rocket shape.

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Related: 12 Secrets for a Cleaner Bathroom Without Spending More Time Cleaning It

Glow-Stick Photographs

Shake it out and get creative with glow-stick art. You'll even walk away with a festive souvenir.

Move glow sticks quickly in a pattern to create different shapes -- just make sure your flash is off, your camera is set for a long exposure, it's dark out, and you're wearing dark clothing. It may take a few attempts to snap a keeper, but this is a fun, kid-friendly activity for the holiday -- sans sparks.

Colorful Clay

Homemade clay squishes like another summertime favorite: the mud pie. Color yours red and blue for a seasonal spin.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cooking oil
Food coloring
Airtight container

1. In a heavy saucepan, combine flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Add oil, 1 cup water, and food coloring as desired. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan. Remove from heat, and let cool 1 minute.

2. Transfer to a work surface, and knead until smooth. Store in an airtight container; it will keep for several weeks.

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