Host a Home Fireworks Show to Remember with These 5 Tips

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In many states, you can buy consumer-grade fireworks and put on your own fireworks show at home. In some states, you can even buy “real” fireworks — the kind that shoots up into the sky and explodes in brilliant displays of colorful sparks. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, or even Christmas.

But putting on a fireworks show at home isn’t something you can just throw together in a few minutes. Fireworks can be dangerous, especially the kind that explodes overhead, so you need to be prepared with the right equipment and a safe location. To make sure your fireworks show gets the “oohs” and “aahs” you’re hoping for, educate yourself on the different effects and make sure you set aside enough of your budget for a truly dazzling finale. Follow these five tips to make sure your guests remember your home fireworks show for years — because they liked it, and not because you burned your house down.

1) Gather Your Equipment

To put on a successful fireworks show, you’ll need to gather some safety equipment. You’ll also need some lumber and other supplies to set up safe bases for your fireworks. You’ll need:

  • Rectangles of plywood and scrap two-by-fours or two-by-sixes 
  • A cordless drill, drill bit, and screws
  • A saw
  • Zip ties

You’ll use these items to build bases for your fireworks. Cut pieces of plywood about two feet wide by eight feet long and screw some lengths of two-by-four or two-by-six lumber to the bottom to make it easier to pick up from the ground. Fireworks have a clay plug in the bottom of the tube, which helps create the pressure necessary to launch the pyrotechnics into the air. You can screw your fireworks to the plywood by angling screws through this clay plug from the outside of the firework down into the wood. If you have barrage or mortar fireworks you want to light off, build a mortar rack using two-by-fours and use the zip ties to fasten your mortar tubs to the rack.

2) Choose a Suitable Site

You need a lot of space to have a safe fireworks show, especially if you’re lighting off big fireworks. Your spectators need to be one-and-a-half times as far from the firing area as the altitude of the highest firework you’re lighting. That means if your highest altitude firework ascends to 120 feet, your crowd needs to be standing at least 180 feet away from the firing line.

You should keep your spectators upwind from the firing line so that debris falls on the other side of the firing area and not all over your crowd. Make sure your site offers a clear firing line (with no trees, power lines, or other obstructions overhead) and that there aren’t any s structures on the other side of the firing area — you don’t want flaming debris falling on your neighbor’s roof.

3) Put Safety First

Fireworks can be dangerous, so it’s important to follow basic safety rules. Only light fireworks outdoors and point them away from structures, people, and flammable things. If you’re lighting the fireworks, wear gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes, preferably work boots. Cover your head with at least a baseball cap, if you don’t have something more fireproof, like a hard hat — wear the cap backward to offer some protection to your neck. Wear 100% cotton instead of synthetics, which can melt if sparks land on them. 

4) Know Your Fireworks

With your racks, firing site, and safety all handled, it’s time to think about the effects you want to create. While it’s tempting to just buy the fireworks that are on sale, you should consider some of the many different effects you can create so you can organize a pleasing display that makes sense visually and arrange your fireworks appropriately on their wooden racks and bases. You can fire multiple mortars and tubes together to fill the sky with flower-like effects, for example, or light off different noise-making fireworks at different times for different effects.

5) Save ⅓ to ½ of Your Budget for the Finale

If you want to really impress your audience, your fireworks show needs a big finale. A great finale fills up the sky with comets, stars, and flower effects, and can incorporate noise-making fireworks, too. You’ll want to light off a lot of fireworks at once for your finale, so spend at least one-third to one-half of your fireworks budget on fireworks for the finale alone.

Hosting a home fireworks show can be a great way to celebrate the holidays and make memories your family and friends will cherish. With the right fireworks and a little planning, you can put on a show to rival the pros.