10 Tips for Throwing the Perfect Memorial Day Cookout

by Matty ByloosMay 26, 2016

Greet the Summer With Style This Memorial Day

As the weather gets warmer and the shorts and sandals come out of the wardrobe, that old summer itch begins. And it all starts with two words: Memorial Day. This special day first and foremost honors all those who have served our country, but is also hallowed by barbecues, sunglasses, and iced tea, and officially marks the beginning of summer festivities. And what better way to celebrate than to host a cookout for your family, close friends, and neighbors?

There are a million tips all over the internet on how to throw a great Memorial Day cookout, but today we are bringing you tips for hosting the perfect one. Hint: It includes those tiny umbrellas that come with fancy boat-drink cocktails.

group of friends making barbecue in the garden backyard. friends sharing food and happy moments

1. Master the Basic Beverage

While all of your guests will have their own preferences, the typical crowd pleaser tends to be a large pitcher of anything cold and boozy. In this case, we recommend sangria, the perfect summer drink because it is both fruity and tart. You can add almost any kind of fruit to your pitcher, but a popular mixture is the classic five-ingredient Spanish sangria.

2. The Best Appetizers

Contrary to popular opinion, bigger isn’t always better. In the case of Memorial Day appetizers, you will want to go small so you and your guests can fit as many appetizers as possible onto fancy red plastic plates. The standby of tortilla chips and dip can be spiced up with homemade guacamole or extra spicy salsa with ghost peppers. If you want to get really fancy, try making bacon-wrapped figs stuffed with goat cheese, too.

3. The Classic Standbys

No Memorial Day cookout would be complete without the classic side dishes of potato salad and macaroni and cheese. Spice it up with white pepper and jalapeños, and you’ll have your friends begging for more. Even better, have them bring extra! Make sure you have some vegan and gluten-free options to keep everybody happy.

4. The Main Event

You can’t go wrong with grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, and turkey burgers, especially if you have some delicious barbecue sauce and top notch ketchup on hand. Try adding pesto sauce as an option, and offering grilled corn on the side. This will make your Memorial Day cookout stand out from the rest.
Homemade Memorial Day Hamburger Picnic with Chips and Fruit

5. Have a Rockin’ Playlist

No party is complete without some tunes. Set up outdoor speakers and all of your electronic needs beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it after you’ve enjoyed a few glasses of sangria. Music that is relaxed yet upbeat in tone, like some summer jazz, hits the spot just right.

If any of your friends are musicians, invite them over with their instruments and host a small concert in your backyard. Not everyone can say that they had live music at their memorial day event…

6. Set Up Yard Games

Even though everyone has eaten their fill, your work is not yet done–things are just getting started. Bust out some yard games that are simple and fun, like cornhole. This will make your guests happy and occupy them so they don’t ask for dessert too early.

7. Delicious Dessert

Speaking of dessert, we recommend a summer-friendly one that will help you and your guests to beat the heat, such as ice cream bars or a few apple pies with ice cream for some patriotic flavor.

8. Memorial Day Simplicity

One hot tip to make your Memorial Day cookout both memorable and fun for everyone, especially the hosts, is to keep the set-up simple. No one really needs cloth napkins or fancy silverware and good china to make a barbecue swing. Set up a table with the potluck, fire up the grill, provide chairs, cold drinks, adequate shade, music, and you’re all set!

9. Homemade Is Best

Don’t stress out about purchasing more coolers for your beverages if you want to provide your guests with water, beer, and soda as well as sangria. Line empty beer cases with trash bags and fill them with a bunch of ice and drinks. This way you can both reuse and recycle the beer cases, and save money on extra coolers you probably wouldn’t use otherwise.

10. Stay Hydrated

On that note, while part of the fun of Memorial Day is getting to kick back and relax with a cold beer, remember to stay hydrated with plenty of water, too. As temperatures rise and shade becomes scarce, it can be easy to forget to drink water and replenish your body’s fluids. Provide your guests with ice cubes and water bottles, and they will leave happy and healthy campers.

We hope these 10 tips for creating the perfect Memorial Day cookout get you excited for the upcoming three-day weekend. Please remember to drink responsibly, and have fun! Also, thank you to everyone who has or is serving our country.

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About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.