EZ Outdoor Entertaining Ideas for Memorial Day & 4th of July

Hard to believe that Memorial Day is just around the corner with the 4th of July not too far behind it! These are the perfect holidays to have an outdoor grill out. Whether it’s a small affair or larger family affair, here’s some ideas to keep it simple. After all, if you’re slaving away in the kitchen “you” won’t have time to enjoy your own party!

Hot dogs and hamburgers: You can’t go wrong with grilling burgers and hot dogs. Not only are they more affordable than steak, chicken or ribs, but easier to grill. Turn your burgers and hot dogs into something special by creating you own  hot dog and burger fixins bar that’s sure to add the “wow” factor.

FIXINS BAR IDEAS: sauerkraut, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped onions, pickled onions, various pickles (dill, bread and butter, hot and spicy), relish, sweet and hot jalapeno peppers, assorted cheeses: such as cheddar, American, blue cheese), ketchup, mustard. Spicy recommendation: Wickles Original Pickles and Wickles Hot Pickle Relish (found in most grocery stores). Keep the “spicy” stuff together in a separate section, noted that this stuff is “hot/spicy”.

BUNS & ROLLS: In addition to the traditional buns, scout around for something different, such as Hawaiian, cheddar, sesame or other unique buns/rolls.

SIDE DISHES: With the exception of baked beans in a crockpot, keep the side dishes “cold.” Once you put the crockpot out on the table, you’re done! You need only make sure that the burgers and hot dogs keep coming!

Ask some of your guests to bring a “cold” covered dish or dessert such as brownies or cookies…this will help with the cost and save you a lot of work. Most folks are more than happy to bring a cold covered dish or dessert – remind them the food can be “store bought” (not everyone likes to cook).

EZ HOT SIDE DISH: Fill a crockpot with your favorite canned baked beans. Once the beans are hot, turn the crockpot on “low” keeping the beans warm throughout the party. Put a large ladle and small paper bowels next to the crockpot. Let folks fend for themselves!

DESSERTS: Keep it simple with a few store bought pies (think apple and cherry). Other easy desserts: assorted cookies and brownies (a big hit with the kids, too). Keep small paper plates near the desserts.

Marshmallows on a stick over the grill or fire pit? Why not!

DRINKS: Lemonade, iced-tea, bottled water. Lots of kids? A pitcher of Kool-Aid.  Cocktails: A punch bowl or pitcher of spiked punch (just be sure to keep it away from the kids).

DECOR: Score some plain white napkins at your local dollar store or other retailer. Buy packs of large red plates and smaller blue plates and small bowls. There you have it – red, white and blue. Add festive flags (large, small or both) and red, white and blue pinwheels around the party area (let the kids take them home).

FUN & GAMES: It’s not for everyone, but a lot of adults and kids still love beanbags and horseshoes. My 30+ year-old neighbors always whip out the beer and bean bags at their summer grill out parties! For little kids, put out some crayons and coloring books to help keep them entertained (and let them take them home afterwards).

And don’t forget as you celebrate: Take some time to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day. So many brave men and women have sacrificed so much to help keep all of us safe and free. HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

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