Since Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning your Memorial Day party. Whether you decide to host a low-key, casual BBQ at a nearby beach or want to go all-out with a tropical-themed luau in your backyard, to help you plan a fabulous Memorial Day party, today’s entertaining guide features Memorial Day entertaining tips from party planning experts.
Memorial Day Entertaining Tips
Set A Budget
“Create an itemized budget, one that you can realistically afford without breaking the bank. That budget should not only include costs for food & beverages, decorations, rental equipment if needed, etc., it also should include a contingency amount in case of an emergency or a back-up plan needs to be executed. Too often, a host/hostess has no idea about how much they will need to spend for the party, resulting in either over-spending or omitting important provisions that should have been captured.”
EXPERT TIP FROM: Greg Jenkins, a Partner & Event Planner (with 25 years experience) at Bravo Productions, an award-winning event production company in Long Beach, California. Jenkins and his firm received a prestigious Gala Awards by Special Events Magazine, four Esprit Awards and several WESTIE Awards by the International Special Events Society; a Silver Tier Award for Innovation by Corporate EVENT Magazine, as well as PRISM Awards by the Public Relations Society of America, Los Angeles Chapter.
Prep Food Ahead of Time
“Prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Don’t take on too much alone, and get help where needed. If it helps you out, get a local caterer or restaurant to make a few of the selections and dress them up in your own dishes – no one will know the difference! Up to a week before the party, set out serving platters and figure out what food will go where. When all of the thinking is done in advance, set-up is quick and you still have time to primp a little before the first guest arrives.”
EXPERT TIP FROM: Andrea Freeman, a celebrity wedding planner and owner of Andrea Freeman Events, a full-service boutique wedding planning company in New York City. She has planned events for celebrity clients, including Hollywood actors Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder.
Fire Up The Grill
What’s a Memorial Day party without a good cookout on the grill? To help you cook up perfect patties and succulent steaks, here are grilling tips from a celebrity chef and grill-master.
“The grill cooks faster than most traditional ways of preparing food so be sure to watch carefully and have what you need close by. With a grill, there’s less surface area than cooking on a stove – all those gaps in the grates on the grill — so salt, pepper and other seasoning may fall through. Make sure you season a little on the heavier side to account for this.
A general rule of thumb is to cooking on medium or medium-high heat. The hand trick is good to go by. Carefully hold your hand 6 inches over the surface of the grill. If you can count past 3, the grill is too cold. If you can’t count past 3, it’s too hot. Make sure your grill marks are brown not black. Dark char can give food a burnt taste.
Using a cider such as Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple in marinades and sauces will get you along way toward that golden brown grill mark color. The sugar in cider caramelizes the outside of the mean, creating both beautiful grill marks and juicy, tender meats while infusing a refreshing, fruit-forward taste into every bite.”
EXPERT TIP FROM: Kevin Gillespie, a former Bravo Top Chef, a celebrated restaurateur, and a chef partner at Angry Orchard Hard Cider. Gillespie was also awarded the GRACE Innovator Award by the Georgia Restaurant Association in 2014, and in February 2015, he was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award Best Chef: Southeast.
Make A Signature Cocktail
Nothing sets your Memorial Day party apart than a signature cocktail. “Personalize your party with homemade cocktails or infusions. Infusions are SO easy (and inexpensive!) to make at home, and they add a handcrafted, personal touch to your Memorial Day party and offer unique flavors not seen in stores.
To make, simply add the flavor element of your choice to a neutral spirit, such as Everclear (its high proof and clean taste provide a blank canvas for infusing), and allow it to soak in the alcohol in order to extract the flavor. Virtually any flavor you love can work in an infusion, which can be enjoyed on its own or in a unique, top-notch cocktail crafted right in your kitchen.”
EXPERT TIP FROM: Ted Kilgore, the Proprietor & Beverage Director at Planter’s House in St. Louis, Missouri, and the In-House Mixologist for Make It Your Own by Everclear. In the 12+ years that Ted has been in the business of drinks, Ted has become one of the most recognized mixologists in the Midwest.
Set The Scene with Décor
If you’re hosting an elegant Memorial Day party featuring a sit-down meal, here are great ideas to help you plan your Memorial Day Seated Dinner Table Décor. “Create an upscale but laid-back table setting using Americana colors; bring in slate blues and deep reds with a pop of yellow against white china. Wrap white napkins with a slate blue napkin runner, and use cute little lobster forks as a décor accent. Wrap your lemons in yellow cheesecloth and tie with a ribbon on the edge of the plate.”
For a more casual get-together, “wrap your picnic table in a vinyl table cloth with stars and stripes…Fill tall glass vases with mini American flags as book ends for your buffet table. Wrap your soda and beer bottles with homemade red, white and blue labels. Showcase your delicious food using crisp and clean white china, and use fun colored glasses for your guests to drink from!”
EXPERT TIP FROM: Celebrity caterer Andrea Correale, the Founder and President of Elegant Affairs on Long Island. Her elite event-production firm is responsible for producing about 600 events a year, for corporate clients (such as Ferrari Maserati, Ralph Lauren, and Jimmy Choo) and celebrity clientele (including Mariah Carey, Russell Simmons, Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon, and other notable figures).
Just Have Fun!
“Have elements of surprise and make it interactive. For an at-home party, play a game to get your group in the spirit. If you’re at a local park, play soft-ball, volley-ball or good old relay-races. Be in tune with the environment and observe how your guests are reacting. If you’re not playing in the games, they won’t be either. If they’re not dancing, change the music. If their glasses are empty, pour the beverage. And always end on a high note (don’t let the party drag on and on) ; great parties are remembered for a lifetime.”
EXPERT TIP FROM: Joyce Scardina Becker, a 16-time winner of GALA and Esprit awards and the Designer-in-Chief at Events of Distinction, a luxury boutique wedding planning and special event management company with studios in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. Joyce is also the Founding President of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA), the first national non-profit trade association created specifically for providers of wedding products and services.
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