Memorial Day is a well-known holiday that is celebrated on the last Monday of May. Although it’s a day to honor our fallen military heroes, the holiday is also synonymous with the beginning of summer, backyard barbecues, and having an extra day off work.
To celebrate the beginning of warm weather while showing respect for U.S. patriots, there are plenty of Memorial Day party ideas that you can take inspiration from. Here are Sophistiplate’s top 13 ways to show patriotism at a party that will get you started.
What Is the History of Memorial Day?
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day can be traced back to the time right after the Civil War. The War—which claimed the most lives during any conflict in the United States—ended in the spring of 1865. Shortly after, the first national cemeteries were established to bury the fallen soldiers. To pay their tributes to the heroes, civilians began a tradition of visiting their graves and decorating them with flowers.
This tradition was especially prominent in Waterloo—a small town in New York State—which turned May 30 into a day of remembrance for members of the community. Officially, it was called Decoration Day. During the day, all businesses closed down, which allowed all the residents to attend to the traditions.
About a century later, in 1966, the U.S. government declared Waterloo as the official birthplace of this holiday. Not long after, the government passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The act renamed the holiday as Memorial Day, designated it a federal holiday, and moved the date of the holiday to the last Monday of May. Thanks to this act, we now get a three-day weekend to celebrate.
Today, Memorial Day is an important federal holiday, which is celebrated with various national parades that take place in major cities like Washington D.C. Those who can’t attend the parades observe the holiday by visiting national cemeteries and memorials to leave flowers and to pray. Sometimes, a red poppy flower is worn as a symbol of remembrance.
Of course, Memorial Day is also well-known as the unofficial start of the summer season. Most often, people celebrate by throwing a barbecue or taking a weekend trip. That said, we still want to express our patriotism during this holiday.
If you’re throwing a Memorial Day party, then there are plenty of ways to express your patriotism. Read on for 13 of our favorite ideas to do this.
13 Ways To Show Patriotism at a Party
1. Hang Up the American Flag
There is no better way to show your patriotism than by hanging up the American flag in your front yard—or anywhere else you wish. However, as a sign of respect, make sure that you are following the rules for displaying the American flag before you get started.
2. Donate to a Veteran Cause (or Several)
One great way to show your patriotism is to support a veteran cause. Make this into a party activity by organizing a donation drive and asking your guests to contribute. You can even do some research as a group and take a vote on which organization your guests would most like to support.
3. Support a Veteran-Owned Business
Another great way to show your support for veterans is to buy your Memorial Day needs from a business owned by either a former or current member of the military. You can use the Veterans Affairs database to conduct your search. As a bonus, you’ll get to know your own community and create stronger ties with its members.
4. Wear a Memorial Day Poppy
Red poppy flowers are worn as a sign of remembrance on Memorial Day. Show your respects by pinning a red poppy flower to your shirt. Since red poppies look incredibly beautiful, you can also decorate your home with these flowers—preferably using decorative planters that are red, white, and blue.
5. Listen to Patriotic Music
You might be surprised to learn that there are dozens of different patriotic songs that you can jam to, which range drastically in genre. Spruce up the ambiance of your Memorial Day party by creating a playlist of patriotic songs. Bonus points if you can accompany the tracks by singing or playing the guitar. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- America the Beautiful
- The Star-Spangled Banner
- God Bless the U.S.A.
- This Land Is Your Land
- Back in the U.S.A.
6. Experiment With Patriotic Lighting
Personally, we prefer string soft lights for elevating the atmosphere of your outdoor party. These add an incredibly elegant touch that will match any party aesthetic. That said, you can also experiment with lighting of different colors—especially red, white, and blue.
Consider changing up your lightbulbs, using a colored lampshade, or placing string lights into colorful mason jars. You can also incorporate patriotic elements into your lighting—such as by weaving a flag garland with string lights.
7. Create a Patriotic Tablescape
If you’re BBQing it up this Memorial Day, then you’ll definitely need some high-quality tableware to complete the meal. We’d prefer to go for something disposable to minimize how much clean-up you have to do after the party. That said, we definitely don’t want any flimsy paper plates on our table.
Sophistiplate’s disposable plates have a special coating that makes them barely distinguishable from real china. Our Patriotic Confetti Table Setting will make for a beautiful tablescape that is sure to impress even the most patriotic of your guests.
8. Serve Red, White, and Blue Cocktails
Making a cocktail with differently-colored layers is a fun way to bring some patriotic spirit to your boozy creations. As complicated as they may look, the trick in getting the cocktail layers to stay apart is to use ingredients with different densities.
On the base layer, you’d want a heavy syrup, such as cherry-flavored grenadine. In the middle layer, you can use a moderately dense liqueur, such as blue curaçao. And on top, you can layer a clear liquor. Make sure to do the layering part as slowly as possible to prevent the liquids from mixing with one another.
9. Use Decorative Straws
For your patriotic cocktails—and any other drinks—you’ll need some straws, which can be yet another opportunity to show patriotism. Going for straws that are red, white, or blue—or all three—is the perfect way to achieve this. Our Scarlet Chevron Paper Straws will make the perfect addition to your liquid creations.
10. Make Patriotic Jell-O Shots
Jell-O shots are the perfect way to kick off an outdoor party. Something about them just screams summer! And because Jell-O comes in a wide variety of colors, your Jell-O shots can be customized to fit the theme of any holiday party.
On Memorial Day, make Jell-O shots using our decorative paper cups using a powder that is either red or blue. And although it takes a bit more effort, layering differently-colored Jell-Os can make for a stunning effect.
11. Pop Some Patriotic Popcorn
Snacks are a must for any party. This Memorial Day, serve some red-and-blue patriotic popcorn for your guests to nosh on. We promise it’s much easier to make than it sounds!
To make it, all you need is a bit of food coloring. Mix it with sugar and oil, and put it inside a pot while you pop your popcorn kernels. The cooked popcorn should come out a different (patriotic) color as a result. Use these Large Red Confetti Baking Cups for serving it at your party.
12. Decorate Sweet Treats With Berries
Instead of using food coloring, why not experiment with nature’s colorful creations—such as blueberries, strawberries, and cherries? You can instantly transform a baked dessert into one that’s incredibly patriotic by layering differently-colored berries on top. If you want to forego baking dessert, then you can even make fruit skewers using your favorite berries and our red food picks.
13. Put a Flag in It
Perhaps the easiest way to transform any food into one that’s instantly patriotic is to stick a small American flag into it. And yes, we mean any food! If that’s not your style, then you can definitely stick to just decorating your cocktails with a mini flag.
Showing Patriotism With Sophistiplate
Although Memorial Day is synonymous with barbecues, warm weather, and long weekends, it’s also a day to honor our nation’s veterans. And what better way to do this than by showing your patriotism on this special holiday?
If you’re decking out your party in everything that symbolizes patriotism, then Sophistiplate has the highest-quality party supplies to make your party a major success.