Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who lost their lives serving in the Armed Forces. But the holiday also brings many reasons to celebrate—the end of school, the start of summer and the first long weekend of the year. If you’re like many Americans, you’ll be celebrating the holiday with a party, and you may even be looking for Memorial Day celebration ideas. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Memorial Day Celebration Ideas

If you’d like to welcome the summer with friends and family at your own backyard Memorial Day BBQ you’ll need a checklist that covers Memorial Day cookout preparations, including what to buy and how to set up. When it comes to outdoor entertaining, you can never be too prepared.
Prep Your Party

  • Make the guest list.
  • Pick the location on your property that will be the central hub of your party. Be sure there’s enough space for everyone to be comfortable without competing for space.
  • Send out invitations. Make it easy on yourself by sending out online invites through your Facebook page or sites like Evite. This offers an easy way to manage the process and keep track of RSVPs.

Decide on Decorations

  • Plan a theme. To commemorate the holiday, consider a patriotic theme with American flags, and red, white and blue cups, napkins and plates.
  • If you have a pool, have a pool party and make sure everyone knows this beforehand so they come ready to swim.
  • To keep the kids involved in your outdoor entertaining, choose streamers, balloons and piñatas for bright Memorial Day BBQ decorations that can also keep children entertained.
  • Don’t forget lighting if your Memorial Day cookout has the potential of lasting past sundown. Tiki torches, paper lanterns and floating candles can set the perfect mood.

Make it Appetizing

  • Plan a menu. Grilled foods like hamburgers, hotdogs and vegetables are solid options for a Memorial Day BBQ. Consider chicken, sausage and steaks if you’re looking for some more variety.
  • Go potlock. As the host of the Memorial Day cookout, you can supply the main dishes and beverages, and request that your guests bring the side dishes and desserts. This is one of the greatest Memorial Day celebration ideas as long as you keep track of everything everyone’s bringing. You want to avoid ending up with don’t want to end up with five tossed salads and no dessert.
  • For beverages, place a few coolers throughout the yard filled with soda, beer and bottled water. Then set up a backyard bar or beverage station serving iced tea, lemonade, and mixed drinks like bellinis and daiguiris. Have some juice on hand for the kids.

Stage the Setup

  • If you’re accustomed to outdoor entertaining, you may already have a bunch of outdoor furniture set up that you can add to.  If you don’t have a lot of outdoor furniture, move some of your indoor pieces outside. For larger gatherings, you can rent tables and chairs.
  • While the sun should be enjoyed, give your guests the option of staying cool with table umbrellas. If you have an outdoor bar and/or food and beverage stations, try to keep them under an awning. You don’t want food spoiling in the heat.
  • The easiest way to serve your guests at your Memorial Day BBQ is buffet style. Set up a long table with food on platters and in foil pans, and stack up cups, plates and napkins. Ensure the guests move through quickly by placing condiments and beverages in a separate area.

Keep this checklist on hand during the planning stages of your Memorial Day cookout and you’re sure to kick the summer off right. If you want to really go all out with your Memorial Day celebration ideas, get the whole neighborhood involved and have a Memorial Day BBQ block party. Joining forces with your neighbors makes outdoor entertaining easier and can lead to a new tradition!

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