Memorial Day is a time for remembrance, but also a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy the freedoms that the day represents. What’s better than a patriotic-themed barbecue? This shopping guide will help you deck out your Memorial Day barbecue in tasty reds, whites and blues for a simple yet fun event.
Finding the perfect Memorial Day decorations
Decide if you’re going to make everything in themed colors – that is, are all your decorations going to fit the colors of the Star-Spangled Banner? Maybe you want all three, or perhaps one primary color with hints of the others. If you have multiple-use tablecloths, it’s best not to choose white for your tables; all those spills and smudges come off navy blue or red a lot easier than white.
Next, decide how you want to decorate. The best decorations can be reused, or add something other than just looks to the barbecue. For instance, garlands of red, white and blue uninflated water balloons look nice and festive. After the meal, though, young and old alike can scramble to free them and fill them for a water fight. Paper chains made from red, white and blue construction paper or colorful newspaper inserts can keep the kids busy making decorations while the adults prepare for the upcoming barbecue. Silk flowers that can be later taken to a veteran’s cemetery (where allowed) is another useful idea for decorating.
Shopping for Memorial Day food
Let’s face it – in the United States, a barbecue just isn’t a barbecue without burgers and hot dogs. But why stop there? Consider colorful kabobs that include red bell peppers and marinated cauliflower. Instead of regular chips, opt for a mix of blue and white corn chips. To top it off and add a little flavor, throw in some bright red spicy buffalo Doritos.
Fruits are even easier – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and grapes are readily available. Apple slices or banana slices make a good white, but consider dipping them in a lemon juice solution to slow oxidation. If you want to get really creative, serve slices of star fruit dipped in food coloring. The coloring can be put into either water or apple juice to get the right concentration for your fruit. Make fruit salads or arrange trays. Alternatively, use the fruit to create a flag or bunting design on top of a cake, cheesecake or Jell-O parfait.
Memorial Day barbecue utensils and lighting
While plastic silverware, disposable cups and paper plates are a standby for a Memorial Day barbecue, consider using reusable or recyclable items wherever possible. Pressed paper plates such as the ones made by Chinet are often recyclable or compostable, while others are wax-coated and usually cannot be recycled. If it’s a small enough group, consider asking your guests to bring their own favorite non-breakable cups; if that’s not an option, look for recyclable paper or bioplastic cups. Styrofoam is usually not recyclable and not biodegradable. Basic metal silverware can be bought for as little as $.25 per piece and can be used over and over – plastic costs around $.03-$.10 per piece, and gets thrown away right after the meal.
For evening barbecues, there are a number of fun lighting options. Consider stringing white, red or blue Christmas lights. Tiki torches or solar lights also lend to the festive atmosphere, and some have citronella to discourage mosquitoes. If you’d rather a unique, crafty option, check out battery-powered votive candles (or real candles if it’ll be closely supervised) and make red, white and blue paper lanterns to hang all around the area.
That’s all you really need for a fun, simple Memorial Day barbecue – decorations, food, and space to have fun. This is a basic template for a flexible patriotic Memorial Day theme that’s easy to switch around and customize, and easy to personalize for any attending past or present service members.