Memorial Day is a day to remember and pay respects to the men and women who lost their lives in war. And if you're like many Americans, you'll also celebrate the long weekend with a party to kick-off the summer.
Welcome the summer with friends and family at your own backyard party. Here are tips for throwing a Memorial Day party and a checklist that covers party prep, what to buy and day-of set up.
Basic party prep
- Plan your guest list. Carefully evaluate the area where the party will be held. You want to be sure that everyone is comfortable and not competing for space.
- Check the weather forecast to plan for bad (or amazing) weather.
- Send out the invitations. Online invites are a quick and easy way to get this task done and it's a breeze to keep tabs of RSVPs.
- Brightly colored napkins, plates, and cups can pull double duty by serving food and being decorative.
- American flags, hanging lights, tiki torches, floating candles, and paper lanterns are great for setting the mood of the party.
- Use simple flowers like daisies, cut them short, and place them in bud vases or tumblers for centerpieces.
- Balloons, streamers, and pinatas add decoration and double as party activities for the kids.
- Party rule #1: Ice, ice, and more ice!
- Stock the cooler and beverage station with plenty to drink: ice cold water, lemonade, soda and adult beverages keep the partiers happy and refreshed! Find recipes for more thirst quenching drinks from the folks at Country Time Lemonade.
- When setting the menu, plan to have food for vegetarians as well.
- Typical BBQ fare (hamburgers, hotdogs) is always delicious, but you can also try ribs, pork tenderloin, chicken, and a grilled vegetable assortment. Crockpot dishes like salsa verde pork are super easy and a great time-saver.
- Sides like veggies, fruits, salads, chips, dips, and desserts like cookies, brownies, and cupcakes are convenient. Be mindful of the weather - you don’t want anything sitting out in the hot sun that could spoil or melt.
- If possible, place food under a covering such as an umbrella or overhang.
- Set up food buffet-style and arrange plates and utensils at the start of the line to keep it moving quickly.
- Have separate seasoning and beverage stations with condiments and such to avoid delays in the buffet line.
- Stock plenty of napkins at the drink station, along with stirrers and straws.
- Move indoor furniture outside for additional surface space and seating. Benches, chairs, stools, and side tables are versatile.
- Have clearly labeled trash and recycle cans.
- Leave sunscreen out for guests to use.
- Have shade options available by using umbrellas or canopy tents.
- Lay rugs or outdoor throws on the ground for additional seating.
- Be eco-friendly with reusable plates (not grandma’s china, but every day or camping plates if you have enough), utensils, and cups. (Acrylic cups are a great buy and easy to find.)
- Place outdoor toys and games for younger guests in a “kid-zone.” Check out some easy and fun outdoor family games.
Memorial Day Party CheckList:
- PARTY PREP
- Make guest list
- Check the weather forecast
- Send out invitations
- Inventory plates, utensils, cups
- Plan menu and/or solicit potluck dishes
- Create grocery list
- Make “trash” and “recycle” signs
- Get coolers or large buckets cleaned and prepped for beverages
- Hose down patio furniture
- Dust off outdoor cushions
- Clean the grill
- SHOPPING LIST
- Food, water, lemonade, soda and adult beverages
- Napkins, plates, utensils
- Decorations: flags, lights, tiki torches, floating candles, paper lanterns
- Balloons, streamers, pinatas
- SET UP
- Add drinks and ice to cooler a couple hours before the party starts
- Move furniture outside
- Set out and label trash and recycle cans
- Set out sunscreen
- Put up umbrellas or canopies for shade
- Lay rugs or outdoor throws on the ground
- Set up outdoor toys and games
- Arrange food, beverage and condiment stations
See more shopping and to do lists in the Cozi List Library.
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