by Jenna Hughes
Memorial day weekend kicks off Summer in the States.
This federal holiday is celebrated with gusto. Not only is it a day reserved for commemorating veterans, it has also become a day for families and friends to get together and celebrate the lives of all loves ones that have been lost over the years. This year, put together the perfect party or picnic in honor of the Americans that have paved the way for all of us.
Picnics - Why We Love 'Em
Picnics - in all their kitschy checkered glory - are very in right now. The picnic theme is becoming more and more popular for parties, weddings, and get-togethers because it is an atmosphere that lends itself easily to the Victorian and nostalgic styles everyone loves these days. Cute picnic baskets and gingham prints are definitely riding the vintage wave into your summer party season. Another great reason to choose a picnic style party is how easy they are to pull off! Individual lunch bags or baskets for each guest are not only a thoughtful and adorable way to serve food. Portioning everything out ahead of time into personalized lunch bags gives you the perfect way to plan just how much food you will need.
Feeding the Masses
Dress up a simple paper lunch sack (or personalized gift bags
like the one shown here for larger meals) by having it printed with the name of the event or add a personalized napkin printed with a sweet note of thanks. If you love the picnic basket look, check local craft stores for small inexpensive baskets. Auctions and garage sales are also good places to find berry picking baskets that are perfect for individual picnic baskets. Each picnic lunch can include a wrapped sandwich and a few of your favorite sides (macaroni salad is a must in a lot of families!). You can also offer a variety of hot foods fresh of the grill or ask your guests to contribute a dish in pot luck fashion. For a sweet touch, add individually sized desserts to each basket like a brownie, cookie, or cupcake. One of my favorite summer treats is the s'more pop - a convenient variation of a classic favorite! Simply skewer your marshmallow, dip it in chocolate and then roll it in graham cracker crumbs. These can be individually packaged with a plastic baggie and ribbon for an easy treat. Another fun picnic dessert is the pie-in-a-jar. These portable pies are baked right into the canning jars!
The Little Touches
If you have the space, spread out checkered blankets on the lawn instead of tables. If the grass is wet, just pin a tarp or vinyl table cloth to the underside of the blanket to keep your guests dry. Add a practical centerpiece to each space consisting of a traditional style picnic basket. The basket can hold napkins, condiments, flatware, personalized cups for guests to reuse throughout the day and fun summer favors like bubbles, sunscreen, and squirt guns. If you are going for a Victorian feel, the recently popular mustache-on-a-stick is a fun one to include. If your event will last into the evening, sparklers are a fun favor for guests and also serve as entertainment. These min-fireworks aren't only for Independence Day. Kids and adults love them and they can usually be found a party stores if your local stores are holding out for the 4th. Add a personalized matchbook for easy lighting and you will have an instant hit at your next Memorial Day party or family reunion!
Entertaining Your Crowd
Lawn games are another fun way to keep guests occupied. Croquet, horse shoes, and a bean bag toss (known to most as Cornhole) are all great choices. Placing a deck of cards at each picnic table will most likely be enough to get your guests forming their own Euchre tourney by the end of the night. A simple mp3 player hooked up to some speakers will keep an upbeat playlist going for low-fuss background music.
Remember to Remember...
In the midst of the festivities, take advantage of this time to remember your loved ones as the day was intended for. Memorializing lost friends, family members, and veterans is particularly special on Memorial Day. Take time to bring flowers to the cemetery or reserve a moment throughout your day to light a memorial candle. Memorial vases
full of red poppies as a symbol or remembrance are another wonderful way to honor your loved ones and keep their memory alive.