Memorial Day Garden Party – Planning A Memorial Day Garden Cookout

Memorial Day Lawn Decor
memorial day
(Image credit: Happycity21)

If you’re a gardener, what better way to show off the fruits of your labor than by hosting a garden party. If you grow vegetables, they can be the star of the show, along with the main dishes. Are you a flower guru? You can make incredible centerpieces for the buffet table and decorate containers around the patio. And even if you’re not a gardener, a backyard Memorial Day garden cookout offers a great kickoff to the summer season.

Here are tips on how to get the party started.

Garden Party for Memorial Day

Need some ideas on how to celebrate Memorial Day in the garden? We’re here to help.

Plan Ahead

To make any party a success, be sure to plan ahead. Start with a guest list and invitations (if social distancing is still in place, keep the invites limited to less than 10 people). Invites can be mailed out or just emailed to friends and family. Or take advantage of social media if everyone is connected.

Decide ahead of time if the Memorial Day garden party will be a potluck or you plan to prepare most of the dishes. If you decide to take it all on, at least assign a couple of people to bring yard games for the kids. Another idea is asking everyone to bring a dessert to relieve some of the burden.

Also, think about decorations in advance. Do you already have red, white, and blue items that can be used? If not, an inexpensive option is to decorate with red, white, and blue balloons, pinwheels, and U.S. stick flags or garden flags. Checkered paper tablecloths provide a festive look plus easy cleanup. Flowers from your garden make an easy centerpiece.

Decide on a Menu

  • If it’s a potluck, assign a category to each guest to minimize duplicates or everything showing up but the potato salad. Have them bring their fare in disposable containers such as foil trays.
  • Include easy-to-eat (think walking around while eating) appetizers to stave off hunger till the main course is ready.
  • Plan for a thirsty crowd. Look around your home for suitable containers to ice the sodas, beer, and water. In addition to coolers, any large container can be used. Just line it with a trash bag and fill it with ice and drinks.
  • Make pitchers of a refreshing adult drinks such as Sangria or Margaritas. Pitchers of iced tea or lemonade also can quench the thirst buds.
  • Do as much on the grill as possible. An assortment of vegetables on skewers can be grilled as well as corn on the cob, hamburgers, hot dogs, and turkey burgers or chicken pieces.
  • Include classic side dishes such as potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, potato chips, garden salads, and fruit salads.
  • Take advantage of what you grow in your garden, i.e. lettuces and other greens, blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, or whatever is ripe for the picking. 
  • Put a note in the invitations for guests to let you know if there are dietary restrictions. Then also include some vegan and gluten free choices.
  • Don’t forget the relish tray with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles, sliced avocado, and sliced cheeses. Condiments such as barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise should be close by.
  • For dessert, choose fruits in season, frozen bars, watermelon, apple pie ala mode, s’mores, or a red, white, and blue dessert.

Prepare a Playlist

Have the music selections picked out a couple of days ahead so there is no last-minute scrambling for music while the burgers burn. Be sure the outdoor speakers and electronic equipment are set up ahead of time and do a practice run.

Dress the Yard

Tidy up the area where the party takes place; mow if necessary. Decorate with potted plants and flowers, round up the extra chairs and buffet table(s).

All that is left to do is have fun and pay respect to the veterans we honor on Memorial Day.

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.