05/14/2014 04:20 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2014

Easy Style Tips for a Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and while it's typically associated with "YES, three-day weekend!" and "Yay, summer is here!" the holiday itself is a day of remembrance. Given that many people celebrate this service-oriented holiday over a BBQ with family and friends, I've come up with a few ways to infuse some old fashioned patriotism into your Memorial Day get-together -- it's as easy as adding red, white, and blue, so consider star-spangling your event with the simple tips below.

Work Your Desserts
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, Jell-O, clouds of whipped cream, pudding parfaits -- there are all sorts of red, white, and blue foods (and combinations of such) that will work and make your table set-up look great. Even a store-bought red-velvet cake or cupcakes iced in white can simply be sprinkled with blue jimmies or dotted with candy for a patriotic look. Of course, you can plan your whole menu to reflect the theme, but really just a few edible standouts are all that's needed to cleverly make your point.

Color Coordinate Drinks
Red and blue sodas lined up on a table or displayed on ice are an instant win (though you get extra points for gussying up the drink tub with stars and/or stripes). However, anything you feel like serving will work if you add a patriotic straw to it. You can also go low-key with pitchers or dispensers of plain ice water mixed with colorful berries and/or apple slices cookie-cuttered into star shapes (which can also adorn cocktail glasses).

Decorate Deliberately
The great thing about decor is that you can go as heavy or as light on a theme as you like. You can make a statement with starry cups and napkins, sparkly centerpieces, and Uncle Sam hats filled with flowers, while miniature flags flutter from every place setting. However, if something slightly more subtle is more your speed, skip anything too shiny and incorporate fun but practical embellishments. Paper lanterns, for example, add ambient lighting and pull the color scheme overhead (a win-win), and plain white utensils can be stowed in red or blue pails for easy grabbing. Neutrals in the form of table runners or labels/signage will also offset an onslaught of red, white, and blue, so be deliberate in your choices and create the backdrop that reflects your style.