In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress on the last Monday of May. But for 155 years—since 1868—Americans have created varied traditions honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country. Some lay wreaths at the graves of veterans, others join parades, attend speeches, and place flags and flowers at their homes. And many more join family and friends to reflect on the freedoms service members fought to protect.

Becoming host of such a special celebration is an important responsibility. To help you plan a memorable Memorial Day gathering, here are a few tips to ensure your guests can give tribute to the day, while enjoying company, and waving their red, white and blue.

Choose a Patriotic Theme

One way to make your Memorial Day event stand out is to choose a theme. You could opt for a classic Americana theme with red, white, and blue decorations, or you could go for a military-inspired theme with camouflage accents. Whatever you choose, make sure it is tasteful and respectful of the holiday's purpose.

Patriotic Barbeque

Plan a Creative Memorial Day Menu

No event is complete without great food. Yes, you can grill hamburgers and hot dogs, but get creative with patriotic-themed ideas and desserts—it’s all a part of the entertainment. You can make a flag cake, red, white, and blue fruit skewers, or how about a patriotic pepper platter? And remember to offer plenty of iced tea, lemonade and water to keep everyone hydrated; and in keeping in the spirit of the day, those too can have holiday-inspired names.

BBQ Family

Add Holiday Ambiance

It should be easy in your spacious Jorde Farms home to create comfortable seating inside and out, but adding extra tables, chairs, cozy pillows and umbrellas will just add to the ambiance and finishing touches to make everyone feel welcome and at home. Even consider adding outdoor games to your backyard, such as cornhole or horseshoes to keep the entertainment flowing. And don’t forget the music! Your gathering is not complete without some great tunes playing in the background. Try creating a playlist of patriotic songs or hire a DJ or local musician to keep your holiday vibe going.

Create an Area to Reflect

Make Memorial Day even more meaningful this year by creating an area or display where your guests can quietly reflect. Perhaps it contains memorabilia and pictures of a service member in the family or close to the family. This can even be an area of arts and crafts for the kids to help them understand the meaning behind the day. Create the craft of your choice, something they can work on and take home as a gift. They can paint, color, use cutouts and glitter to make a spirited thank you card or vision board, for instance. Or they could simply color a picture of an American flag or eagle—something that represents patriotism.

Plan a Pause in the Festivities

At 3 p.m. plan a moment of silence during your gathering, to acknowledge the National Moment of Remembrance. It was first observed in May 2000 and put into law in December of that year to observe a full minute of reverent silence to remember those who lost their lives in the U.S. military. In planning for your pause, which occurs at 3 p.m. local time everywhere, let your guests know ahead of time, and give them a few minutes to settle as 3 p.m. approaches.

While it's easy to get caught up in hosting a backyard Memorial Day event, it is important to remember the meaning behind the holiday. Taking a moment to reflect and honor fallen heroes is something all your guests will embrace, remember and appreciate.  

Also, don’t be surprised if your guests ask about your new Shea home and the relaxed lifestyle you’ve recently adopted in your new indoor-outdoor living spaces. They’ll probably even comment on your lovely new neighborhood and will want to move into the community themselves. If you ask us, the more the merrier. Click here to learn more about owning a Shea Home.

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