A Party to Remember

people at a party with flags

Memorial Day is known as the unofficial start to summer. Observed every year on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is a federal holiday that was established to remember and celebrate the people who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. However you choose to spend the day, it’s a great time to both reflect and show gratitude to those who have sacrificed their lives, but to also make new memories with family and friends.

Red, White and Blueberries

Backyard BBQs are the perfect way to usher in summer and are the quintessential Memorial Day celebration. This year, if you plan on supplying all of the food for the grill, ask your guests to bring a festive appetizer, side or dessert to share. In keeping with the theme, request that all dishes include red, white and/or blue ingredients. Strawberries, blueberries and white whipped cream can make for an eye-catching—and patriotic—dessert, while blue corn chips and red salsa make a picture-perfect appetizer.

For adults, offer up patriotic cocktails, and have some red and white wine on hand. Red and blue sport drinks or sparkling cranberry and blueberry juices are great nonalcoholic options. You can also freeze blueberries, strawberries or raspberries to make fun “ice cubes” for both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages!

Or you can add a twist to your party by inviting guests to bring a dish that is traditional to their heritage or family. Whether it’s a great aunt’s strawberry-rhubarb pie, a recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation, or a bottle of wine from region with family ties, learning a little about each guest’s background can be a lot of fun.

Color It American

The nice part about decorating for Memorial Day is that there are so many options. Get floating candles in patriotic colors or flag-themed beach balls you can leave bobbing in the pool. Hang colorful streamers from the fence or landscaping. And, definitely make sure Old Glory is flying proudly, whether from an actual flagpole or duplicated in miniature all around the yard and pool.

Even your tableware can reflect your patriotic theme. Get disposable plates in red and blue and pair them with white napkins or utensils or set out big serving bowls in bold, bright hues.

Share Memories…and Gratitude

Ask guests to bring photos of family and friends who served in the military. In advance, create a patriotic photo display board for everyone to proudly display their hero’s picture. Encourage your guests to share stories about their loved ones with others or write down memories that can be added to the board.

Have a table set up with paper, markers and stickers and ask children to make cards and pictures to send to the local VA hospital. Or, supply blank cards and ask guests to write out thank-you notes and other inspiring messages that you can mail to the VA or drop off at a branch of the USO. You can even find an address for the nearest military base and send a package of cards and letters there.

If pen and paper aren’t your style, set up a laptop and offer guests the opportunity to send a message of support to U.S. service members and their families across the globe. More than 1 million Americans have already done just that through the USO’s website. The messages will be displayed on screens in USO centers worldwide.

Regardless of how you choose celebrate it, make this Memorial Day truly memorable with a day of gratitude, remembrance and celebration.