How to Plan a Memorial Day Family Gathering . . .

Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Sharing Life with Everyone You Know!

Memorial Day . . . a holiday to Remember . . .

Why not plan a Memorial Day Family Gathering? Can’t you remember as a child looking to forward to Memorial Day because school would be out for the summer? I can! We knew that AFTER Memorial Day we had three months off before we had to go back to school in September. Times have surely changed. But this year, schools actually ARE out for the summer before the Memorial Day weekend! That’s a first! It’s been years, maybe decades, since school was out this early. That’s more of a reason to celebrate Memorial Day with a Family Gathering!!!

Planning your Memorial Day Family Gathering . . .

The Guest List . . .

Once you decide to have a Memorial Day Family Gathering, the first step is to decide who will be invited. If you are like me, ALL of your children and grandchildren are invited:) But, you might also want to invite close friends and their families. The only consideration in determining how many people will be on your guest list will be, of course, the number of people your house, or back yard, will accommodate comfortably.

  • If you will be eating indoors, how many people can be seated at your table or tables?
  • How many TV trays will you need to use?
  • Where do you want the adults to sit and the children?

All of these must be addressed before you call the people on your list.

The Decorations . . .

Since Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday, you will probably want to use the typical red, white, and blue colors of the American Flag. And, even use flags in your decorations. In the picture above of a Memorial Day Family Gathering, the tablecloth is dark blue with a red and white stripe table runner. The centerpiece was white carnations in a blue vase with American flags. The red candles were in hurricane type candle holders.

The table decorations were finished off with red chargers, white plates, red, white and blue napkins with red napkin rings. The glasses were blue, though it’s hard to see in this picture. You may want to use patriotic paper plates and cups. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you are going to eat outdoors. Plus, the cleanup is much easier:)

In choosing what decorations to use, always use what you have first to save on the cost of the get-together. I already had the blue tablecloth, red chargers, napkins, blue vase, candles, and flags. My only purchases for this dinner were the table runner, the carnations–minimal. That way you can focus more on the food your want to serve!

The Menu . . .

Planning what you want to serve at your Memorial Day Family Gathering, to me, is the most fun! Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • What are the foods my family likes most?
  • Do I want to cook outdoors on the grill, or indoors?
  • Do I want to serve more than one main dish, such as barbecue chicken and ribs, or just one?
  • How many side dishes?
  • How many desserts?
  • Do I want to serve something special for the children?
  • What about drinks? Soft drinks, tea, coffee? Or, do I want beer or other alcoholic beverages served? My personal preference on that one is usually no . . .

Once you have answers to all these questions, and any others you can think of, it’s time to write down your menu and a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need.

Some of our favorite Memorial Day foods are:

We have grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for the meat. You can grill chicken as well.

And for desserts . . .

Check out the Family Favorite Memorial Day Desserts post!

Finalizing the plans . . .

The final stages of the plans for your Memorial Day Family Gathering will be preparing your home, shopping for the foods, and cooking.

  • One week to four days from your dinner:
    • Check on your dinnerware, glassware
    • Decide on table decorations, etc.
  • Three days before:
    • Clean your house really well.
    • Get table set up with tablecloth, runner, any decorations that will “keep” (candles, etc.) You won’t want to get fresh flowers until the day of your dinner.
  • Two days before:
    • Shop for groceries.
    • Check your house for any clean ups you need to do.
  • One day before:
    • Do a quick run-through of your house, sweep any floors, clean anything that needs it.
    • Cook any foods that can be made the day before. For example:
      • In our list, the strawberry ice cream can be made several days before and frozen.
      • The potato salad can be made the day before, covered well, and stored in the refrigerator. I prefer to make mine the day of the dinner, but it is possible to make it in advance.
      • Aunt Jo’s Baked Beans can be put together the day before, then cooked the day of your dinner.
      • The two pie crusts can be made, rolled out, and baked the day before, but you will need to make the pies the morning of your dinner.
      • Hamburger meat can be formed into patties.
  • The day of your dinner:
    • Pick up any last minute things around your house.
    • Be sure your house is “freshened up”, guest friendly.
    • You might want to put your husband in charge of grilling the meats so you can focus on the remaining dishes.
    • Cook remaining foods.
    • Set up your buffet and drink station.
    • Get ready to greet your guests!

Party Time!

Greet your guests with a smile! Be friendly, cordial, accommodating. Have glasses and ice ready to give your guests the drink of their choice upon their arrival. You might also want to include a few appetizers, depending on whether or not your dinner will be served immediately or some time after your guests come. And most importantly, be sure to see to it that you and your guests have a wonderful time! Time spent with food and fellowship will always be time well spend:)

From our Family to yours, Happy Memorial Day!







Maribeth Alexander

Food and Forte




I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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