19 Creative Memorial Day Party Ideas

memorial day party ideas

Kayla Snell / Stocksy

Long holiday weekends mean we have more time to spend soaking up the sun and celebrating with friends. As the unofficial start of the summer season and a day to honor those who died while serving in the U.S. military, Memorial Day is a good time to get out of town or celebrate in your own backyard. Here are some creative ways to celebrate the kickoff to summer that is Memorial Day weekend.

  • 01 of 19

    Rent a Boat

    sailboat at sunset

    Justin Lewis / Getty Images

    Do you live near a body of water? A safe bet for Memorial Day weekend fun is to rent a watercraft for you and your nearest and dearest. While renting a sailboat would make for a memorable night, any kind of boat will do—you can even rent a pontoon on the lake. Whether it's a luxury boat or a more low-key sailing vessel, the point is to relax with friends and family.

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  • 02 of 19

    Host a Southern-Style BBQ

    BBQ ribs on a grill

    Kanawa_Studio / Getty Images

    If you live in the South, this one is probably a given. If not, adjust your BBQ style to replicate the hearty goodness of a Southern-style cookout. Go beyond the traditional burger and hot dog offerings and add some ribs, pulled pork, or brisket to the menu. Don't skimp on the sides—mac and cheese, collard greens, coleslaw, and corn pudding are crowd-pleasers.

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  • 03 of 19

    Organize a Craft Beer Tasting

    craft beer tasting

    uptowngirlCLT / Twenty20

    Craft beer has a strong following and is often a standout star on its own at parties. If you are a craft beer enthusiast, Memorial Day is a great time to do a tasting with guests. Showcase a selection of summer brews, fruit beers, or session ales for your friends to sample.

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  • 04 of 19

    Set up a Hot Dog Bar

    Hot Dog Bar

    Camille Styles

    A hot dog with all the toppings is hard to beat as a summer staple. Grill some quality dogs and let your guests choose from an array of toppings. An elaborate hot dog bar is a fun way to turn a classic Memorial Day food into something new and exciting (and it's a great way to please those with picky palates).

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  • 05 of 19

    Host a Slider Party

    Sliders Ingredients
    Design Love Fest

    If burgers are your go-to cookout staple, host a slider party instead. Not only are these mini burgers totally adorable, but you can also offer guests a few different options to choose from like bacon-and-cheese stuffed burgers or spicy jalapeño sliders. Bonus: Serving a fraction of a burger means you'll have plenty of room for dessert!

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  • 06 of 19

    Hang Streamers and Lights

    red white blue streamers

    Virgil Bunao Photography

    ​A simple and inexpensive way to add flair to any holiday party is with fun streamers and lights. In just a few minutes, you'll have spruced up an indoor or outdoor space for holiday fun. 

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  • 07 of 19

    Try "You Bring It, We Grill It"

    Envision / Getty Images

    Buying all the ingredients for a party can be taxing, expensive, and time-consuming. If you are short on time (and budget), try a "You Bring It, We Grill It' style potluck. Each guest brings their favorite grilling item or a side to share. This way, everyone saves a bit of money and is satisfied with what's on the menu.

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  • 08 of 19

    DIY a Festive Banner

    DIY patriotic banner
    Stephanie White

    A stars and stripes banner is simple to make and can easily be customized to your desired length by printing more flags.

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  • 09 of 19

    Find a Pool

    Pool party

    Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

    If you aren't lucky enough to have your own pool, beg or bribe your way into using one belonging to a friend or family member. If your inner circle comes up dry, consider renting a house with a pool for a mini staycation via sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. Pool parties are a stress-free option since the pool is the main attraction—you don't have to worry about going crazy with decorations or party games. 

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  • 10 of 19

    Make a Bar Cart

    Bar on Wheels

    Camille Styles

    This Red Flyer Wagon is the cutest bar cart that we have seen in a long time. The simple ode to Americana, with delicious cocktails of your choice, are appropriate features for the long weekend holiday.

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  • 11 of 19

    Create Fruit-Filled Ice Cubes

    Fruit Ice Cubes
    Design Love Fest

    Chances are that on Memorial Day weekend the temperatures will be rising and you will be searching for the quickest ways to cool off. We love the idea of combining fresh fruit and simple ice cubes to enhance your beverages.

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  • 12 of 19

    Add Color With Bandanas

    Bandana Table Setting

    Wedding Chicks

    Bandanas are not just for your head. These distinctly American accessories also make a wonderful tablecloth or utensil holder for your big bash. Have a couple of extra on hand if guests want to use them as scarves or pocket squares, too.

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  • 13 of 19

    Decorate With Hanging Planters

    Dinner Party

    Rip and Tan

    Hanging macrame planters are a beautiful way to welcome the summer season. Set up your picnic table near a strong tree where you can hang a few festive planters full of the summer's best florals.

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  • 14 of 19

    Make Pineapple Sparkler Centerpieces

    Pineapple Sparklers


    Pineapple sparkler centerpieces are a fun way to bring your party from the day into the night. Keep the pineapples with their natural coloring or add an appropriate red, white, and blue theme. All you need to create this fun DIY project are sparklers, pineapples, and a few cans of spray paint.

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  • 15 of 19

    Play Outdoor Games

    LL Bean

    Lawn games are a must for any outdoor gathering. Croquet is a fun idea if you have a sprawling lawn for activities. Cornhole, beer pong, and ring toss always get the party going and guests mingling.

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  • 16 of 19

    Hang Lanterns

    Star Lanterns

    Design Improvised

    If the weather permits and you are celebrating outdoors, it's always fun to look to the trees for decor inspiration. Hanging adorable red, white, and blue star lanterns from above really sets the tone for a successful Memorial Day gathering.

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  • 17 of 19

    Consider a Farmer's Market Theme

    Farmer's Market Fresh

    Camille Styles

    Memorial Day is the prime time to welcome the return of many farmer markets for the season. With so many fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers available it only makes sense to use a Farmer's Market theme for your party. Display fresh flowers, send guests away with terra cotta pots as favors, put up signage, and serve fresh eats like corn and cherry tomato toast.

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  • 18 of 19

    Serve Red, White, and Blue Jello Shots

    Red, white, and blue jello shots
    The Spruce

    Glittery jello shots are a grown-up way to celebrate a festive occasion. Champagne jello shots elevate the fruity snack to levels beyond a college bar. You can mold the jello into interesting shapes using cookie cutters.

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  • 19 of 19

    Plan a Private Picnic

    beach picnic

    Thefieldguide / Twenty20

    Who said Memorial Day has to be a big shindig anyway? Sometimes a simple gathering with the ones we love, taking time to reflect on the significance of the day, is all you need in the end. Make it easy with sandwiches and pre-cut fruit from the grocery store or prep a slightly fancier feast with delectable dishes like mini cheesecakes in a jar, roasted garlic pasta salad, and classic lobster rolls.