Memorial Day is a great time to break out the grill and celebrate the beginning of summer, but weather conditions at the end of May can be unpredictable. If you’re planning a Memorial Day barbecue, keep your guests’ comfort in mind — whether the day is hot or cold — by adding these essential items to your barbecue party shopping list.
1. Insect Repellent
If spring has been exceptionally wet and warm, mosquitoes, gnats, and other biting insects will be out in full force as uninvited guests. Before your party, be sure the lawn is clipped and landscaping is pruned to minimize insects, and invest in good quality insecticides so guests can avoid becoming the meal instead of enjoying it. Both Off! and Repel are good options, and insect repellant wipes are an easy choice that are convenient for guests to use.
2. Hand Sanitizer
Flu germs and other unwanted infections are still circulating in late spring, and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer such as Purell will help keep you from giving your guests more than just a great meal. Use unscented hand sanitizer to be most effective while minimizing any distractions, and provide the sanitizer not only in bathrooms, but also in the dining area so it can be used right before eating or handling food.
During a hot spring, shade will be at a premium for a Memorial Day barbecue, and trees may not have their complete leaves out yet to provide natural shade. Invest in a wide awning (retractable options like Sunsetter are great for both sunny and shady days) over the patio or deck, or choose umbrellas that can be placed over picnic tables or patio furniture. Shade south-face and west-facing areas first to maximize the shade’s effectiveness and keep guests comfortably cool.
If the spring is exceptionally cool, you can easily heat up a Memorial Day get together. An outdoor fireplace, chiminea, or patio heater can be a great accessory in spring and you will be able to use it to extend your outdoor entertaining later in fall as well. Inexpensive throws, such as tied flannel blankets, can also be great accessories for a chilly day, and they can be given away as gifts to your guests.
5. Citronella Candles
Add citronella candles, lanterns, and torches to your shopping list not only for the festive ambiance they can add to an evening barbecue, but to add more lighting to your entertaining area and to discourage insects. Look for candles that use citronella essential oil, however, not just scent, or else they will be ineffective.
The days are growing longer at the end of May, but the sun can still set early, especially on a cloudy day. Be sure your deck, patio, or backyard is well lit by adding pathway lights, hanging lanterns, or strings of white lights to the area, which will also increase the festive atmosphere. For a rustic touch, add tea light candles to empty mason jars on every table, on steps, or along low walls for more illumination.
The most comfortable parties have adequate seating without cramming everyone into one small area or jamming seats around a single table. Add several small, inexpensive patio tables and extra chairs to the backyard so guests have more seating choices, and dress them up with outdoor cushions and festive vinyl tablecloths. Break out the hammock, swing, or lounge chairs for even more seating options on the fringes of the dining area.
8. Drink Markers
No guest enjoys that awkward moment of accidentally picking up the wrong drink, but a good host makes sure that is never a problem. Cheap drink koozies can easily be personalized with guests’ names (you can even order them individually at Kustom Koozies), or for a more elegant barbecue, try patriotic wine glass charms or similar trinkets that can help distinguish one glass from another.
A good party host always keeps guests’ comfort in mind, and by stocking up on thoughtful supplies your Memorial Day barbecue can be the first of many enjoyable summer celebrations to share with family members, friends, and neighbors.