Memorial Day is a U.S. national holiday that always lands on the last Monday in the month of May. This gives us a three day weekend to celebrate what also, unofficially, marks the beginning of summer.
So what exactly is Memorial Day? It's a day to pay tribute to our military service members who died while serving our country. It's a day to visit cemeteries, observe ceremonies, and show our respect by placing flags and flowers on the graves. We honor our current military and veterans who have made countless sacrifices for freedom. We also use this occasion to decorate the graves of lost loved ones (non-military) as well.
It's traditional to celebrate Memorial Day for the entire weekend. If you wish to visit a cemetery, it doesn't have to be on Monday. You can choose your day and plan other activities to spend time with family and friends. This is a big travel weekend and if you're not travelling yourself, it's a great time to entertain visiting relatives with a picnic, patriotic party, or a cookout in your backyard or at a park. Locally, you may be able to find a parade, concert, or sporting event to attend.
For many families, Memorial Day weekend is reserved for their first camping trip of the season. It's time to kick back, go fishing, and enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, adverse weather may force a change of plans, so it's wise to listen to forecasts leading into the weekend. Be flexible. Have a backup plan lest you be sitting home with nothing to do.
If you're planning a Memorial Day party, there are several many ways to make it a smashing success. The most important though, is attendance. It's a busy weekend and many people have events they wish to attend, whether it's something traditional or a local event they don't want to miss.
First, check your local calendar to see what's scheduled around your city. Next, ask around to find the day or evening that will work best for your family and friends. Finally, get organized and plan a party that will be well worth attending. Unfortunately, if you have one party that's not so hot, your guests will be reluctant to attend your next one.
Your party will be anything but ordinary if you decorate to set the mood. Decorations should be patriotic and "summery". Often, you can use your decorations for Independence or Election Day, but include or add a few extras such as string lights, lanterns, bunting, centerpieces, lawn decorations, or fountains. Start with a clean, freshly-mowed area and do some insect control if that may be a problem. If it isn't windy, add crepe paper, balloons, and perhaps confetti to the tables.
Tableware in itself is decorative. Start with clean tablecloths. Tape them down to make sure they're secure. Don't skimp on plates. Plastic plates or heavy paper plates will help prevent food accidents. Look for red, white and blue napkins and forks, spoons, and knives. If possible, add centerpieces to each table. If you want homemade ones, have the kids make them up with supplies from your local party supply store.
If you're looking for menu ideas, stick with what works. Picnic food such as sandwiches, salads, and chips are a crowd pleaser. Want to cook? Fire up the grill and have a cookout. Hamburgers and hot dogs are inexpensive, easy to make, and are always popular for outdoor parties. If you're a fish fan, get out the fryer and have a fish fry. Keep in mind though, that not everyone likes fish. Have an alternative for those who wish to skip the fish
Opt for desserts that will not have to be kept refrigerated such as cake, cookies, and brownies. Anything with frosting should be kept out of the sun to prevent melting. Still, there's nothing more American than good, ole apple pie or strawberry shortcake with whipped topping.
Sometimes socializing isn't enough. Entertainment will keep guests at your party. Part of the fun of Memorial Day is spending time outdoors. There are plenty of traditional, outdoor games that will keep guests busy. Want something fast-paced and ultracompetitive? Racing games are a good source of exercise and fun for kids.
If you're stuck indoors, activities such as crafts and puzzles will educate and entertain. If there are several local events taking place, you can set up an "open house" type atmosphere and let guests come and go between events. Don't forget to take pictures to capture memories and show them at your next party.
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