Memorial Day Party Ideas

Memorial Day is finally here! Take the time to remember and honor the brave soldiers who have sacrificed so much to fight for America’s freedom, and celebrate that freedom with some long awaited, quality time with friends and family. Continue reading for tons of Memorial Day ideas, decorations and party supplies, plus plenty of menu ideas with recipes for creative cocktails, BBQ must-haves, delicious desserts, and even a free, downloadable grocery list to keep all that shopping streamlined and simplified. This blog post is your complete guide to hosting an unforgettable Memorial Day party!

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Memorial Day Decorations

When it comes to Memorial Day themed décor, there’s no better symbol than the American flag. You’ve got a few different options here!

Pick up a bundle of small American flags and strategically stick them into the ground to create a path. This path can guide your guests where to park their cars or lead them towards your backyard. It’s a very simple way to make a statement, while also serving a purpose, seeing as how you won’t have to worry about greeting guests at the front door or ushering them out. If it’s an outdoor communal space, such as a park, consider using flags to mark the perimeter of the party. This will help keep your guests together and define the designated party area.

Want to go big? Invest in some medium to large sized American flags to hang around your property. Think: fence, front and back doors, and on the railings of your deck or patio. American flags are widely available and pretty inexpensive. You can also maximize their lifespan by using them again for Independence Day and Labor Day weekend.

Looking for something a little more subtle, but still patriotic? Use linens and florals in a simple red, white and blue color scheme, and add pops of stars and stripes on other design elements, such as lawn games, cocktail napkins, straws or beach balls.

Memorial Day Party Supplies

Let’s go basic to the basics here.

One of the most commonly forgotten but biggest must-haves for a Memorial Day party is ice-ice, baby. If you’re planning on inviting lots of friends and family, be sure to buy plenty of ice ahead of time. If your party is on the smaller side, and you want to dazzle your guests with a little something special, freeze your own ice with berries, edible herbs or flowers in them. It’s a simple way to impress guests, and a cool surprise and delight moment when you catch them glancing down into their drink mid-sip and discovering raspberries, lavender, or rose petals inside their ice cubes!

Other party essentials include: disposable cups, plates, utensils, and straws. Try to go with a sustainable option, like bamboo, or another compostable form of disposable tableware. You can always use non-disposables too!

Now it’s time for the random bits and bobs that folks always want, often ask for, and very much appreciate. Create a little station for outdoor supplies like sunscreen, bug spray, and towels. If you’re planning to party well into the evening, consider keeping a basket of blankets indoors until sunset, and bring it outside to keep guests comfy and cozy when it gets chilly. Depending on where you live and how the temperature typically falls, it could also be worth investing in an outdoor space heater or two.

Memorial Day Menu

Whether it’s a backyard BBQ or a picturesque pool party, the menu is KEY. Don’t try your luck at ordering a last minute pizza – those delivery delays can be frustrating to endure on holiday weekends! Instead, go for a traditional BBQ vibe. Yes, it’s a little expected, but trust when I say guests really do appreciate keeping this tradition alive! Stay tuned for the end of this blog post for a free, downloadable grocery shopping checklist fit for your Memorial Day weekend party.

Memorial Day Drink Ideas

Want a drink that combines the coming fruit-filled summer with Memorial Day? Try out this recipe for red, white, and blue Sangria Sparklers! This white wine based sangria is a great choice that’s sure to refresh your guests while spending a day out in the sun. Or, if you’re more of a red wine kind of person, this recipe for an easily customizable Spanish Sangria is sure to delight you and your guests as well! Plus, both sangria recipes come with a video tutorial to guide you through the mixing process.

Pitchers and drink dispensers are perfect for larger parties. This will give you more time to sit back and enjoy yourself! Try this thirst-quenching Paloma Pitcher recipe of tequila mixed with grapefruit juice and soda. Keep the ice separate, by including an ice bin with tongs on the side, to ensure these drinks won’t get watered down.

If you’re looking to really dazzle your guests with your mixology skills, margarita’s are the way to go! This recipe for a Mango Margarita goes the extra fruity mile by adding a mango puree to this powerful, yet refreshing drink. More of a strawberry fan? What’s great about drinks like this is you can easily substitute the suggested fruit for whatever your preference is!

Of course, nonalcoholic drinks are also important to offer at your Memorial Day party. Whether they’re to help wind down the night or to give younger guests something more exciting to drink than water, here are some yummy ideas for alcohol-free drinks to serve.  

Bubbles make every drink more fun! Plenty of people love the bubbly sensation of seltzers and sodas, so why not add some to your fruity beverages? If you’re a fan of oranges, limes, and lemons, you’ll love this Citrus Chiller recipe. Not into citruses? Not a problem. This Grape Cherry Soda recipe could be the perfect drink to add to your party menu!

Lemonade is the quintessential summer drink. That tantalizing combination of sweet and sour is hard to resist, and homemade lemonade can hit that sweet spot of balance if done right. If you don’t already have a trusted lemonade recipe, here’s one that I highly recommend.

Memorial Day Appetizers

It’s more than your typical veggie or charcuterie board, it’s delicious BBQ inspired appetizers to kick off your party on the right note!

Scrumptious Salads

This Corn and Blueberry Salad recipe has an intriguing combination of corn, blueberries, cilantro, lime, cucumbers, and onions. If you like a little extra kick in your salad, not only does this recipe suggest adding cumin, but jalapeño peppers too!

Fruit salads are a classic summery dish to serve at a Memorial Day party. Liven yours up a bit with this Summer Fruit Salad with Ginger-Strawberry Dressing recipe! Or put a spin on the traditional salad by adding grilled fruit or vegetables. This Grilled Wedge Salad recipe has some tasty suggestions that you can try out.

It’s nice to offer guests a more substantial salad option as well. This yummy recipe for a Greek Penne Salad will tide your guests over before dinner, and give you plenty of time to get the main course ready.

Chips & Dip, But Better

What’s a more crowd-pleasing appetizer than chips and dip? I’d argue the kind of dip that’s homemade. Chop up some grilled fruit and make your own salsa with this tangy and tasty Grilled Watermelon Salsa recipe.

If you’re looking for a good veggie option, you can’t go wrong with this Caramelized Onion Dip. If you’re feeling fancy, try making the chips yourself with this Roasted Garlic Dip and Baked Sweet Potato Chips recipe.

You can’t go wrong with nachos either, especially not these Super Macho Nachos. Imagine that satisfying crunch while warm, melty cheese fills your mouth. Hungry yet? I’m just getting started!

Memorial Day Entrees that Guests Will Love

When it comes to backyard BBQs, I think it’s safe to say that this meal, be it lunch or dinner, is the main event. The grill is hot, the meats have been marinating for hours, if not overnight, and you’re ready to hear that sweet sizzling sound!

You can’t go wrong with burgers, hotdogs, sausages, chicken skewers and steak. Include a fun presentation of toppings and condiments, to be prepped and ready with all the goods for guests to customize their dish to their liking!

Spices and Sauces

As with any spice or rub, the longer it has to sit on the meat, the stronger the flavors will be. There’s some important factors to consider. How much spiciness can you and your guests handle? Do you want to buy the BBQ sauce and rubs, or make them yourself? Do you want to pack some variety in?!

If sweet is your style, then this Smokin’ Hoggz Honey Barbecue Sauce recipe is right for you! Packed with flavor and requiring less than 30 minutes to make, this sweet and simple sauce will have your guests running back for seconds.

It can be hard to find the right balance of spice, but this Amazing Glaze recipe makes it easy! It’s the chili powder in this recipe that kicks it up a notch from “sweet” to “mildly spicy,” so be careful with how much you add if you’ve got guests with sensitive palates.

Sometimes there isn’t as much time as you thought there would be to prepare, or maybe you goofed and forgot to buy BBQ sauces at the store. If you still want to turn up the heat, these recipes for BBQ Seasoning and Mighty Fine Swine Rub will do the trick in no time!

Beef Alternatives

But if you’re really looking to start a fire in your guests’ mouths, definitely try out this recipe for Korean Gochujang BBQ Chicken. Fair warning: gochujang — a Korean chili paste — can be extremely spicy depending on which brand you buy. It’s known to have a subtle sweetness, plus a meaty saltiness to it, which sounds delicious if you ask me.

Believe it or not… Not everyone enjoys the sweet sound of something sizzling on the grill. If you’ve got pickier guests, and the right kind of pizza stone, grilled pizza is another great main course option. Go simple with a Grilled Pizza Margherita recipe, or add something meatier with a Grilled Steak and Tomato Pizza. Or if you’re hosting vegan guests, try out this Tomato-Herb Focaccia.

But we both know, at the end of the day, practically any kind of pizza will be warmly welcomed by your guests.

Delicious Desserts for Memorial Day

There are so many options when it comes to desserts. Is it better to go light or decadent? Big or small? Fruity or chocolatey? I say, why pick just one when you can have them all? 😋

The best way to cool down is with something cold of course, so ice cream, sorbet, and Italian ice are ideal desserts to offer up to your guests. You can make this boozy, too. Use your favorite fruit juice or try out this recipe for zesty and sweet Raspberry Lemonade Sorbet Ice Pops and add in a flavored vodka for some fun 😉 Spiked Italian ice is refreshingly chill too. Try out this classic lemon-flavored Italian ice recipe, or this recipe for Italian ice with a strawberry, blueberry, or pineapple flavor to guide you through the process (just don’t forget the liquor!).

I mentioned earlier that you can use your grill to give extra flavor to your fruit, which doesn’t just work well for salads, but as an ice cream topping too! Give this a Tropical Grilled Fruit Sundaes recipe a go, but know that you can grill basically any fruit to create a deliciously elevated ice cream.

And, have you ever thought about grilling cake? You read that right! That’s what makes this recipe for Grilled Pound Cake Double Chocolate Sundaes so interesting and creative. Yummy of course, too!

If you have access to a fire pit, definitely grab all of the essentials for s’mores. Add some variety here by offering guests different flavors of graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. If you don’t have a fire pit, you can still bring the ooey-gooey yumminess of s’mores to your party with this S’mores Ice Cream Pie recipe.

Other Exceptional Dessert Options…

Strawberry-Rhubarb pie is a delectable dessert option for those who love a bit of tartness among all the sweetness.

If you’re throwing a large party, brownies or cookies are the way to go, but keep it creative with this Oreo Brownie Cups recipe!

Cupcakes are an excellent choice too when it comes to hosting larger parties. Try these Red Devil’s Food Cupcakes if you’ve got a hankering for something chocolatey. The frosting is quick and easy to make in less than ten minutes!

If I had to pick a favorite among the desserts I’m recommending, it would have to be this Blueberry Buckle recipe. It’s got the satisfying crunch of almond slices sprinkled on top, plus the unique, runny but tasty flavor of cooked blueberries. I love having baked fruits on top of cakes, because those sweet juices sink and soak into the top of the soft cake underneath. The lightness of the cake and the blueberry flavor compliment each other deliciously in this recipe, and paired with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream?! Pure perfection.

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Don’t miss out on the fun you can have and memories you can make with your loved ones this Memorial Day weekend! Now that the vaccine is available to most, it’s finally possible to feel safe gathering with loved ones to enjoy the beautiful weather and make unforgettable, heartwarming memories together again.

Even if there’s bad weather on the day of your Memorial Day party, have no fear! The majority of these ideas can easily be translated into an indoor party, so plenty of fun with friends and family can still be had inside your home!

Download this freebie to keep the grocery shopping streamlined! Simply click on the name of each drink or dish for a direct link to the recipe 🥳

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