This long weekend marks the beginning of summer. Pools open, farmers’ markets buzz, neighbors come out of hibernation, and the season of outdoor parties begin. Memorial Day is not just limited to one day for a big blowout, it is the start of a summer-long celebration! A few of these outdoor entertaining tips will give your summer parties just the right amount of excitement and liveliness that only summer can bring.
The true meaning of Memorial Day is never forgotten even though there is a frenzy to get summer started. Give a nod and appreciation to veterans and active troops with red, white, and blue décor. Look for rustic items around the house, or gathering dust in the garage that can be up-cycled with a little patriotic spray paint, decals, and ribbon. Add star stickers to a large sliver drink tub, adhere red and blue ribbon to outdoor candle holders, decorate paper lanterns, spray paint mason jars and fill with red geraniums, or blue hydrangeas. Place mini American flags and pinwheels around your yard for summer décor—these also double as kids’ toys, or party favors. Keep summer entertaining easiest and serve food and drinks on red, white and blue plates and cups. For simple centerpieces fill assorted glass jars with layered red, white, and blue beads, or colored sand, nuzzle a votive candle in the jar and light when the sun goes down. (As a bonus these decorations can easily be re-vamped for The 4th of July.)
Fun and Easy Foods
Memorial Day is all about the grill. Burgers, brats, and hot dogs are to be expected on almost any Memorial Day menu. This year step out of the bun box and add something new to the standard American home grill menu. Offer your guests a make-your-own kabob bar with and assortment of cubed meat, shrimp, veggies, hearty cheese like fresh mozzarella, and yes even fruit. This is an easy way to please everyone without much fuss– after all, Memorial Day is all about taking it easy! Skip the dated mayo-based side salads for bright dishes like potatoes with dill, or a grilled fruit salad.
Dessert for summer parties is wonderful because in many ways it can also serve as decoration. For non-bakers, simply decorate with strawberries and blueberries on top of white frosted cupcakes, or layer Mason jars with store bought angel food cake cut into stars, whipped cream, and berries for mini trifles. Or get everyone involved and ask your talented baking friends to bring their best pie for a contest. (What gets more American than pie?)
Refreshing drinks on hot summer days are must. There are a few drinks that evoke summertime nostalgia with almost anyone: lemonade and cold brew iced tea. Make these drinks more interesting by infusing with summer herbs like rosemary or mint, or really kick things up by making them “adult beverages.” Spiked lemonades or a favorite cocktail of the South, the porch swing, are lively ways to enjoy lemonade when entertaining. Tarragon spiked Lady Gray tea, or spiked strawberry tea will keep the cocktails interesting, without losing the relaxed summer vibe.
Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!