6 New Twists on the Traditional Memorial Day Party

Add a few unexpected twists (and a fun game!) to your standard backyard party routine.
  1. Tradition: Classic American Theme

    Photo by Thinkstock / The Nest
    Twist: Yes, it’s Memorial Day -- but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to Americana and go crazy with flags and red, white and blue colors. Pick any theme and just incorporate some American pride elements. Want to have a southern BBQ? Serve spiked sweet tea with festive drink stirrers. A California picnic? Think avocado and sprouts on a flag tablecloth. Or even a Hawaiian luau -- just incorporate island native President Obama’s favorite nuts, like pistachios and almonds, into the menu.
  2. Tradition: Burgers and Dogs on the Grill

    Photo by Jim Franco / The Nest
    Twist: Take the guesswork out of what your guests will want to eat by offering a “you bring it, we grill it” option. Unless you’re a masochist (or a control freak), a potluck is a great way to let go of some responsibility and also incorporate new foods into the mix. You’ll be assured that all your guests are eating what they like, and no one will go home hungry (a plus for anyone on a gluten-free or vegetarian diet!). As the host, you can still supply a few barbecue staples or sides just in case!
  3. Tradition: Casual Plastic Utensils and a Stack of Napkins

    Photo by Courtesy of the Manufacturer / The Nest

    Twist: Sure, barbecues are meant to be informal. But here’s a way to class things up just a bit: These cute paper napkins hold utensils and come pre-folded, so all you have to do is slip in disposable flatware.

    Enjoy your meal silverware napkins, $16 for pack of 50, PlumParty.com

  4. Tradition: Coolers Filled With “Typical” Beers

    Photo by Thinkstock / The Nest
    Twist: Get creative by offering craft beers that represent different parts of the country -- like Chicago’s Goose Island, California’s Sierra Nevada or Atlanta’s SweetWater brew. Pack the bottles into a fun tub with ice and “park” it in the party zone.
  5. Traditional: Flag Decor

    Photo by Courtesy of the Manufacturer / The Nest

    Twist: Skip the traditional bunting this year and hang these balloon lanterns in your trees or on your porch.

    Patriotic balloon lanterns, $13 per dozen, OrientalTrading.com

  6. Tradition: Games Like Horseshoe and Frisbee

    Photo by Courtesy of the Manufacturer / The Nest

    Twist: Split into two teams. Enlarge the state map (link below), print it out and then cut out each state as puzzle pieces. (You’ll want to print twice so you can get two copies, one for each team.) The first team to correctly assemble the US wins!

    Download a free, National Atlas map