(BPT) - Labor Day signals the end of summer and the start of exciting new fall activities, but what does the holiday really celebrate? The answer: the 155.6 million people age 16 and older in the American workforce. Gathering with family and friends is a must, but that doesn't mean you should spend your day off worrying about party details. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be a master party-planner and everyone will have a great time - you won’t even have to turn on the stove!
Fantastic food – no oven required
The heart of any Labor Day gathering is the food. Celebrate the flavors of summer by including fresh fare found at your local farmers market. Cut up veggies and make a crudites plate – cucumbers, carrots and peppers are great this time of year. Kick up your crudites by skipping the big platter and instead using small mason jars or individual plastic cups. Then add a dollop of dip to the button of the cup and add veggies for one person. The presentation is beautiful and now guests can simply grab a cup and go for a healthy, mobile snack.
The main dish should be something that satisfies all ages, and barbecue is the most popular dish for Labor Day cookouts and parties. Savvy hosts and hostesses know great barbecue doesn’t have to involve slaving away for hours over the grill. Cut time and impress with Farm Rich Smokehouse BBQ, available in chicken, beef and pork varieties. Just a few minutes in the microwave and you’ll have heavenly barbecue perfect for loose-meat sandwiches and other recipes. From Farmhouse Dry Rub Smoked Pork to savory Pulled Beef Brisket, there’s something for everyone
Finally, save time and invite guests to bring their favorite summer dish to share. Potluck-style gatherings ensure a variety of foods are available to please every palate, plus guests will happily bring their summertime favorites for one last hurrah before the season is over. Evites are a simple way to invite guests and inform them the party is potluck style. Check out sites like celebrations.com for special Labor Day themes that are free or low-cost.
Divine decor – simple is best
Don’t labor over decoration ideas for your gathering. Instead, stick with simple ideas that add a splash of style. For example, dress up plain balloons by gluing small colorful pom poms on the outside for perfect polka dot style. Any color theme will do, but you can’t go wrong with red, white and blue for Labor Day. When the party’s done pass the balloons out as favors to all the young guests.
Adding a touch of color and comfort to your party is simple. Start with fresh, locally grown flowers in the same mason jars you’re using for the crudites and place them on tables throughout the party. Finish by taking colorful accent pillows from couches and chairs inside to your outdoor spaces; this will make patio furniture cozy and chic.
If the party goes past dusk, build a fire outside and add soft throws guests can use to stave off the evening chill. A string of white garden lights and luminaries made from tea lights, sand and small paper bags add a lovely glow that can also safely guide guests down paths, up stairs and to the driveway. Luminaries can even be a great activity for kids during the day - simply set up a table where they can decorate the bags and construct the luminaries with sand so they’re ready when the sun goes down.
Awesome activities – stick to classics
Labor Day activities should focus on simple pleasures. After all, once school and autumn sports start, everyone will be hustling from one activity to the next. Cards, kites, bubbles, hula-hoops and chalk are big crowd pleasers.
Encourage fun photo ops by coloring life-size props on the driveway or sidewalk. For example, a bunch of balloons, a rainbow, a palm tree, animals, fireworks, etc. – the sky’s the limit. Then have kids lie down next to the drawings and take a picture. A photo of your nephew holding the chalk balloons or your daughter hugging the drawing of a giraffe is a fun and memorable way to mark the occasion.
Want an activity that will bring together both young and old? Anyone can play kickball and all you need is a ball and a few bases for some friendly competition. Hide-and-seek can also be hilariously fun when kids partner with adults and hide in pairs together throughout the yard or park.
For the evening hours, plan a fun bonfire and set out s’mores ingredients so guests can make a sweet, gooey treat. If you don’t have a bonfire pit, a chiminea or fire table will work, too. You can even use a grill to roast marshmallows! Just make sure adults supervise the little ones so everyone has a great time without injury. This is the perfect way to say goodbye to summertime and welcome in the fall season.