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It’s time to kiss cabin fever good-bye: Memorial Day is almost here, which means it’s time to get outside and party!
Not used to playing host or hostess in the great outdoors? Don’t worry! We have all the tips and tricks you need to celebrate summer in style.
Set the tone
Special party lighting is the single best way to create a festive feel. Skip the regular floodlights on your back patio and instead string up small garland lighting, which creates a bright and fun ambiance. Small lanterns, large paper globe lanterns and votive candles also help add a glow to your party.
Next, be sure guests have a comfortable place to sit and chat. Set out lounge cushions (with blankets or towels underneath if they’re not made for outdoors) and extra chairs with added side tables. If children are attending, lay out a few picnic blankets so they can flop down and enjoy the fun too.
Finally, good music sets the tone for a fabulous outdoor party. Create a mix of your favorite songs or pick a theme, such as salsa music for a fiesta party. Be sure not to drown out your guests by cranking the tunes. Music should be a background addition, not the whole party (and your neighbors will thank you).
Make your party truly special with fab patio décor—but this doesn’t mean you need to invest in special gear. Easy and inexpensive decorations can turn an ordinary backyard insta-stylish. Fill tall glass vases with floating candles and brightly colored flowers. Set simple white dishes against brightly colored place mats and napkins (paper ones, if need be). Even plain old tissue paper can be used to create festive “pom-poms”: Fold sheets of paper up accordion-style and secure in the center with a thin piece of wire. Fluff out the sides, and you have a fun decoration that you can hang from simple fishing line.
Every outdoor party should include great summery snacks. If you’re celebrating Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, include patriotic eats like berry parfaits (red raspberries, white whipped cream and blueberries) and cupcakes topped with sparklers (unlit—after dessert, guests can light them and jump around on the sugar high). Celebrating a birthday? Try mini birthday cakes for a twist. Or go with a whole range of “mini” eats, such as beef sliders, bite-size grilled cheese sandwiches, and milk shots served with chocolate chip cookies.
Planning to grill? It’s pretty standard for an outdoor party. Include your guests by setting up a “kabob station” so they can build their own with various veggies, bite-size meats and dipping sauces. You can also get creative and grill firm cheeses (briefly!) and fruits.
Sip the night away
Set up a cocktail station with ingredients for a few special cocktails to fit your occasion. But you don’t need to be the bartender: Just write out the recipes and place them in 5-by-7-inch frames and set alongside alcohol and mixers. And don’t skimp on the garnishes and fun accessories like drink stirrers or cocktail napkins. You can even order ones with your own design (search for “personalized stir sticks,” for instance) to match your party. They make a fun keepsake—though you’ll probably find quite a few in your lawn the next morning too!
Memorable Menu Ideas
If you're looking for great recipes for this coming Memorial Day — or any outdoor gathering — take a look at these goodies. Perfect for serving indoors or out!
Teriyaki Turkey Sliders
Asian Sesame Sliders
Grilled Spicy Mini Pork Kabobs
Grilled Steak and Potato Kabobs
Smores Jar Cake
Dreamy Cream-filled Cupcakes
Blueberry Hard Lemonade
Spiked Rainbow Salad