Each year, as May draws to a close and Spring is in full swing with summer just around the corner, everyone gathers together with their family and friends to celebrate Memorial Day. When the weather is divine, Memorial Day cookouts are the joie de vivre. Here’s hoping that this year’s day to honor fallen US soldiers will be full of sunshine and gentle breezes.
Originally called Decoration Day in 1868 at the end of the American Civil War, today’s modern Memorial Day celebrates any and all American soldiers who died while they were in the military. Sometimes the meaning behind Memorial Day can get lost, and it’s important to reflect on what the day really signifies. Children, especially, need a formal education about the day’s significance so they can properly understand what the celebration is all about.
The tradition of celebrating military members who died while in service with a picnic-like gathering actually has its roots before the Civil War, and the word ‘potluck’ stems from those long-ago ‘outdoor meals.’
This year, as you prepare for your annual Memorial Day cookout, you may be looking for some ideas that will bring a breath of fresh air to your festivities.
- Patriotic cocktails (or mocktails) – Since Memorial Day is a day honoring US military members who died while serving their country, serve up a twist when it comes to the day’s beverages. Consider Red, White and Blue Sangria or a Patriotic Shirley Temple. Both can be served with or without alcohol.
- Burger bar – Forego the bland and boring traditional hotdogs and hamburgers served with packaged buns and opt for a burger bar where guests can serve themselves up a gourmet burger made to suit them perfectly. It’s also a great idea to offer meat alternatives so that your vegetarian friends will be able to partake in the burger bar too. Some burger topping ideas include: fresh and varied vegetables, a wide variety of different cheeses, grilled or fresh fruit, bacon and chili. When it comes to the burger buns, think outside of the box and offer fresh bakery rolls, pretzel rolls, ciabatta bread, brioche bread and more.
- Burger alternatives – Try your hand at something other than burgers, too. Your guests will appreciate your efforts. How about Mango Barbeque Chicken or Smoked Ribs?
- Mouthwatering sides – Don’t simply stock up at your local deli counter this Memorial Day. Try making some incredible side dishes from scratch at home. Turn regular potato salad into steak potato salad! Are you sick of the same old macaroni salad every year? Get creative with creamy grape salad. The internet is chock full of great recipe idea that will blow your guests away.
Of course, no Memorial Day cookout would be complete without its fair share of desserts. Stick with a red, white and blue theme, or mix it up to include some dishes based solely on their delectability. Salted caramel anything is bound to go over well. Try turning whoopee pies into carrot cake whoopee pies for a sweet change.