We hate to admit it. Summer is coming to an end.
Sure, those warm breezes may be around for a few more weeks in some parts of the country. But with school kicking into high gear and extracurriculars starting, it’s safe to say many people see Labor Day as the last weekend of summer. And if this is the last weekend of summer, we have to make it count!
Whether you’re looking to elevate a cookout, plan a camping trip or enjoy the weekend indoors, these party ideas will send summer out on a high note.
Cookouts are a Labor Day classic, but if you’ve been doing that all summer, why not change it up a little bit? Instead of firing up the grill, load up a picnic basket and head out to a local park or even your own backyard.
So how do you make the picnic feel like a party and not just like lunch on the grass? You’ve got to create the environment yourself! If you’re getting together with a smaller group, one or two picnic blankets should do the trick. For larger groups, scope out the space and invite people to bring their own blankets to sit on. You may want to provide some music so people feel relaxed and comfortable. A Bluetooth speaker connected to your favorite summer playlist should do the trick.
Next comes the food: the most important part of any picnic. Lisa Ware, Director of Business Development at Catering By Michaels, suggests picking a theme and letting that dictate the menu and even some décor elements. “We love to pick a theme and stay with it. It’s especially fun to highlight a summer fruit, like lemons or watermelon, and tie that ingredient into the whole experience,” says Ware.
She suggests making lemon the star of the menu with finger-friendly options like lemon orzo pasta salad, mini turkey club sandwiches with lemon aioli, a mixed greens salad (with feta, cucumbers, tomato, Kalamata olives and a lemon vinaigrette) and something like fresh lemon bars for dessert.
What You’ll Need
1. VonShef Picnic Blanket– $22
3. Woven Wood Picnic Basket Set For 2– $89.50
Since Miss Manners says you can’t wear white after Labor Day, get as much wear out of your summer whites as you can with white parties.
White parties aren’t just for the Hamptons. Invite your friends and family over for your own take on the east coast classic. The first rule – wear all white. And if you’re wearing white, it makes sense that the décor would follow suit.
First, we need to cover the tables. A white tablecloth will do wonders in immediately elevating the feel of any backyard or patio. Add in some white folding chairs and you have the makings of one classy event. To make the space feel more luxe, consider adding in some white pillows, cushions and blankets to lounge on the grass.
Moving on to the flowers and décor: Most local grocery stores will carry white roses and baby’s-breath flowers. Fill a clear glass vase with some all-white blooms for an easy, inexpensive and chic look. Another cost-effective way to incorporate white décor is with pillar candles placed inside a clear glass hurricane (i.e., a tall cylinder vase). The hurricane protects the flame from any wind and it adds a beautiful warm glow as the sun starts to set.
If you want to do something a little more nontraditional, consider grabbing some fruits (like pineapples and lemons) as well as any flowers with an interesting structure and spray-paint them white. No, you didn’t misread that. Spray-painting your table décor might sound unusual, but it can give your décor a modern and monochromatic look.
What You’ll Need
1. White Tablecloth– $9
3. Paper Round Lantern, Set of 24– $20
Backyard Picture Show
What feels more like summer than doing something under the starlight? Evenings spent outside are a quintessential summer experience, which makes an outdoor movie the perfect way to spend the season’s last nights.
Samantha Bellinger, an event planner with over 10 years of experience, says she does this all the time. “All that is needed to pull this off is a large white bedsheet, a laptop computer, portable projector, speakers and a space to gather,” says Bellinger.
She does the same thing with her neighbors, but they put an extra special twist on it. “Our version will be watching a movie in the water. Last year we had our friends and neighbors pull up by boat and/or float in tubes while we watched Jaws. This year we will watch The Goonies while floating on the lake,” shares Bellinger.
What’s a movie without popcorn? Make it special for everyone with a make-your-own popcorn bar. Have popcorn ready to go with specialty spices, salts, candies and toppings for a late-night movie snack.
What You’ll Need
2. White Queen Sheet Set– $8
3. Small Movie Theater Popcorn Boxes, Set of 40– $13
As summer leaves, so do the pool days. In fact, many people take Labor Day as the unofficial time to close their pool for the season. Squeeze a few more hours in by your pool with family and friends!
Scott Lastimoza, a designer for Living Spaces, says, “Instead of traveling far, bring paradise to you by creating a nice themed pool party. Palm trees around your favorite outdoor chaise or daybed, sun tanning on your most comfortable outdoor rug – paradise has never felt easier. Share that mini-vacation with your loved ones in the convenience of your own home!”
If you decide to host a pool party, remember to have shatterproof table and glassware. The last thing you want to be doing on the final weekend of summer is cleaning up broken glass. Consider getting plastic dishes and glassware you can use at the pool if you don’t already have some.
A pool party is also the perfect excuse to buy that giant pizza-shaped pool float you’ve had your eye on.
Things You’ll Need
2. Silicone Wine Glasses– $15
In-Home Paint And Sip
We like to think of summertime in terms of sunshine and blue skies. Unfortunately, not all summer days turn out that way, and I think we’ve all learned you can’t control Mother Nature.
This next idea is great because it’s easy to do inside or outside. If you find yourself struggling to plan something with a rainy forecast, consider hosting a paint and sip party at home.
Paint and sips are classes typically taught by a professional artist where the people in the class learn to paint the same picture while they enjoy drinks and each other’s company. Though most classes are taught in a studio, you can create the same experience at home.
“You can either DIY the instructions (if you or one of your friends is particularly artsy) or you can pay a local artist or paint & sip instructor to come in with the supplies,” says Bellinger. “Since it can be a BYOB party, you can have your drink of choice while painting.”
Look on Pinterest for some fun, summer-themed art projects if you plan to have a do-it-yourself (DIY) party. If you’re hosting, you can also look up summer punch recipes or cocktails to have ready for your guests when they arrive.
What You’ll Need
3. Acrylic Paint Brush Set, 6 Pack– $12
Enjoy The Final Days Of Summer
Just because the summer is winding down, it doesn’t mean the fun has to. However you’re spending your Labor Day this year, we hope it’s restful and spent with your friends and family!