Everywhere you look, people are putting up the red, white and blue bunting for Memorial Day so it’s time to put together some party tips for those who’d like to throw a little bash (me!) to pay tribute to those who’ve served our nation. For decades, Memorial Day was celebrated with Main Street parades so the whole town could come out and pay their respects to fallen soldiers and wave to those who’ve served. Even though fewer cities do parades nowadays, that doesn’t mean you can’t still do your own tribute! In the spirit of the holiday, we’ve got some ideas for ways to give back to the community as well as welcome recipes for savory delights and boozy wonders!
Care Packages & VA Hospital Visit
Okay, admittedly, going to the VA hospital doesn’t really scream FUN! But a visit to your local Veteran facility with a batch of homemade cookies is a great way to give thanks to those who’ve served. If you’re doing a small family BBQ or picnic in the park, this is a great way to remind kids that while beach balls and hot dogs are awesome, the real meaning of the holiday is to give thanks to people in the military. Dedicating one hour of your time before the party gets underway is a small price to pay compared to the sacrifices others have made.
Another option is the care package route. If you’re having friends and neighbors over, ask each to donate one or more items, letting them know you’re compiling a care package to send overseas. It can be anything really: toothbrushes, baby wipes, hand lotion, magazines, candy and non-perishable food items, card games, etc. Get the kids involved by creating a ‘Thank You’ note station where construction paper and pens are available for people to write little messages you’ll add to the care package. Finally, if your town does have a parade, grab a group and head there first before the barbecues begin.
Red, White & Blue Booziness!
I know what you’re thinking….! Let’s get to the alcohol already!! Here are 6 festively colored treats that have an acceptable level of drunk factor in them! Click on the name for the recipe!
Picnic Basket Provisions
Before we get to some food items you’ll want to try this year, here’s a list of items that people definitely need but always forget to bring to their picnic!
- Bottle Opener (wine and beer)
- Cutlery & Serving Utensils (I know that plastic forks and spoons are convenient but there is SOOOO much plastic choking the environment, I really encourage people to use either biodegradable utensils or just the regular stuff from home. Collect it at the end of the day and wash it like you normally would – it really does help the planet!)
- Paper Plates or Reusable Acrylic Plates
- Wet Wipes (for wiping off dirty picnic benches and using at notoriously disgusting park and beach bathrooms!)
- Mesh Net Covers to Keep Bugs Out of the Food! (you can buy these at the dollar store!)
- Ice / Ice Chest
- Small Folding Table (if you’re doing your picnic beachside, it’s nice to have the food out of the sand!)
- Grill Items (matches or lighter, charcoal, aluminum foil, metal spatula or tongs)
- Games (paddle balls, croquet, badminton, lawn bowling, beach balls)
(Looking for other party tips? Then you’ve gotta check out our 65 Super Secret Party Tips Guide!)
Now that you’ve got your checklist in hand, here are a few menu items you might want to consider. Some capture the red, white and blue theme; others are just easy to prep, pack and eat on a picnic! Because who wants muss n’ fuss while at the park or on the sand?!
Patriotic Rice Krispie Bars
I love the cute paper straws used as a stick! If you want to save time, you can buy packaged rice krispie treats and just do the dipping yourself!
Cowboy Hot Dogs
Plain old dogs with ketchup and mustard is fine for the kids but adults demand something a little more sophisticated! This Cowboy Dog is topped with grilled onions, cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon! Or how about grilled italian sausage on a french roll with grilled vegetables and garlic aoili! Make the toppings ahead of time and pack in a glass serving container.
White sangria is an awesome party choice in the summer because it’s easy to make a whole pitcher! Choose a tart white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Add a splash of brandy or Grand Marnier and then add slices of fruit. Get as creative as you like: strawberries, mango, peaches, nectarines, pomegranate, apples, lemon and lime. Some recipes create fizz with sprite or ginger ale (like this one). I don’t like Sangria being overly sweet so I prefer La Croix or club soda. Make the recipe to your own palate and those of your guests (duh!).
Corn & Avocado Salad
The honey lime vinaigrette is what makes this crisp flavorful salad so awesome! Poblano chilis give it a little zip!
I know there are all kinds of hummus you can buy at the grocery store, but they never have the same creamy texture and fresh flavors of homemade. You can add so many variations, like this Roasted Beet Hummus!
Red, White & Blue Cupcakes
Fresh fruits make cupcakes so pretty! And they dupe me into thinking I’m actually eating something healthy! For best results, pack the berries in a separate container and top the cupcakes just before serving!
Backyard Barbeque Bonanza
First things first, you’re gonna need a booze bar! I love doing a Bloody Mary Bar because you can add so many fun garnishes and PEOPLE LOVE DRINK STATIONS where they can make things the way they like ‘em!
Know what else you’re going to need a lot of? Ice! Wondering how much you’ll need? HA! If you don’t know the answer to that question, that means I caught you and you haven’t yet downloaded our 65 Super Secret Party Tips Guide, which covers ICE and, well, 64 other super important party tips! C’mon, people! It’s free! Just download the thing!
There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money on decor that can only be used once a year. That’s why I love these hanging star lights. They definitely fit the patriotic bill but they’re versatile enough to be used year round for birthdays, New Year’s, Fourth of July, and Christmas, which makes them a great investment for your home! You can find them on Amazon or at party stores.
Paper lanterns are great for backyard decorating because they’re really inexpensive and come in different sizes that look great hanging from trees and awnings. You can easily find them at party stores, home and garden centers, and places like Target.
Remember when we were kids and people used to put these in the lawn? Well, I’ve got a better idea for your metallic pinwheels… photo backdrop! Remove the stick and attach them to a wall in the yard so that your guests have a festive place to take selfies and party pics!
Here’s another inexpensive item that’s great for Memorial Day BBQs: patriotic bandanas. Which you can totally put on your dog (!) and make him look super cute… or use as napkins, placemats, or to create a pop of color in baskets that hold bread, chips, crackers, etc.
Happy Memorial day everyone! There’s always something to be grateful for, so kick off summer with a little outdoor entertaining with friends and family. If you haven’t already downloaded our Party Tips Guide, you can do it now! It’s FREE and it’s fabulous!
How does your family celebrate Memorial Day? We want to hear! Tell us your story in the comments below!
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