It seems that just a few short months ago we were writing about getting ready for summer: BBQ ideas, seasonal summer foods, poolside parties, and warm weather cocktails. It is hard to believe that this weekend marks the (unofficial) end of summer. Labor Day weekend is the time to make the most of what the summer has brought us with warm weather, outdoor dining, terrific seasonal fruits and vegetables, and great parties! Labor Day weekend is about taking it easy, so we put together a few simple ideas for the long weekend’s parties.
Turn your backyard into a cozy, rustic gathering place. Try recycling old soda and wine bottles and use them as vases. No need to buy expensive flowers, just use what you have in your garden–flowers, fresh herbs, or vines. Often times seating outdoors is uncomfortable, so place decorative pillows on lawn chairs or place random quilts on the lawn so your guest may have a place to “picnic.” Once the sun goes down, light plenty of citronella candles to keep the bugs away and set a nice glow to the party. Use different shapes and sizes of candle holders to fit the rustic feel. Remember, it is Labor Day weekend so keep the décor simple and relaxed.
Sadly, the warm days are coming to an end which means that many of the leisurely yard games are too. Set up an area for summer games like bocce ball, badminton, or croquet. If your crowd is more active, set up a mini tournament – men vs. women or kids vs. adults. This is a great way to get everyone to socialize and people to get to know each other! Keep score and give the winning team small gifts such as a small bag of homemade cookies, seeds for next summers garden, or fun bottle openers. Keep the kids active by having a water balloon toss, potato sack races, or hold a watermelon-eating contest.
Keep the food as easy-going as possible. Feature summer vegetables and fruits, and keep the BBQ hot for summer staples like burgers and hot dogs. Set out a “burger/hot dog bar” with a variety of toppings outside of the typical condiments. In addition to ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato, try green and red salsas, bacon, relishes, different mustards, flavored mayos, Sriracha, BBQ sauces, bell peppers, mushrooms, a number of cheeses–anything from goat cheese to sliced American–pesto, an olive tapanade, hummus….you get the idea! For side dishes include summer favorite like potato salad, baked beans, and grilled summer veggies like squash. Desserts should be light and summery: strawberry shortcake, fruit pie, or ice cream topped with fruit. Or, if you really want to keep it easy, buy a few different types of ice cream bars and popsicles. Your guests will appreciate the summer nostalgia.