Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer season, grilling season, bikini season and my all time favorite -- no-cook summer recipes! My thinking is if you're slaving away in the kitchen or standing at a grill all day, you're not enjoying the party so what's the point?
This way beyond easy guide will help you spend more time having fun and less time cooking. I like parties that are simple and focused on the guests. Yes, you have to have food. But, you don't have to spend the next three days in the kitchen like Martha Stewart. Not me, honey. Puhleeze! Besides, Memorial Day parties are not about foie gras and canapes. I am a total French food snob and even I roll my eyes at that. Simple!
First things first, Food!
Go food shopping. Just because you're not cooking doesn't mean your family and friends aren't hungry. You can always use my fave little trick, buy a bunch of fried chicken from the supermarket and lay it out on pretty platters and watch them go to town! Unless you're from the deep south or your name is Paula Deen, chances are their fried chicken is better than yours. Personally, I dig me some Popeye's from time to time. Yeah, Popeyes! Or, you can grab some sliders, buns and tons of fixin's like cole slaw, potato salad, three bean salad, etc. Then, make your own salad and there you go! I find that small plate and single serving food is really popular these days. Looks modern and cute and not too much on the waistline... especially if there are bathing suits involved! BJ's, Costco and Trader Joe's have everything you need!
I like getting people drunk, always have. Parties are just better when people attending have a little buzz on. Make your life easy and get beer, wine, champagne and one signature drink. That's it. Make a special cocktail in some fruity color and you're done. Red usually does the trick. Pretty glasses, cute garnishes, not much else. As always, no red plastic cups, please. No excuses. Google "party drink recipes" and watch what you find... I'm no genius here, just resourceful. Personally, I like Moët-Chandon and a fruity mixer for a nice punch that most crowds like because it has alcohol and is refreshing. Always make sure you have plenty of soft drinks and water for the non-alchy amigos. Put drinks in big steel tubs you can pick up at somewhere like True Value and that's all folks!
Music is Key
You can serve all the fab food and beverages galore, but with no kickin' tunes, your party is lame-o. Boring... Get a good playlist going and pump it up loud. For my parties, I like to keep it sort of upbeat neutral. A mix of pop, hip hop, dance, salsa and some retro rock is a big crowd pleaser. No jazz, classical, easy listening, etc. Ugh, they'll be out the door after the first drumstick. Check out www.orb.com for a great iPod dock under $79.
One Little Different Thing
Have something or do something your guests will remember. An activity, a special crafts table for kids if they're coming too, a cool favor. Just something that makes it a stand out party. You don't have to spend a lot of money. A cupcake is cute, a flower, a super cheesy dollar store trinket, anything really! It has to come from you, though. I like the idea of taking a photo of each person upon entering the party and then sending it along with a thank you. Nice touch and everyone loves photos of themselves, unless they look fat and/or drunk. Take note.
Say Thank You
What's the deal with people who don't send thank you cards? Something so small and so inexpensive says so much about a person. No emails, a real card, thankyouverymuch. Make the effort, you're not that busy. As the host, you can make a short video (hello, free!) using photographs on www.animoto.com and then email the link to all who came to the party. Flippin' genius and fabulous... and practically free!
Most of us have special ways of celebrating the holiday and honoring those who have died serving this country. In times of war there is a special meaning to this holiday, so take a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Be proud to be an American, fly that flag and party like a rock star.
Happy Memorial Day!
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