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Hosting checklist for Memorial Day 2021

What do I need to host a Memorial Day party?

While there are still gathering guidelines in place, Memorial Day 2021 is looking much different — and a lot friendlier — than it was last year. For many households, it will mark the first get-together in nearly 14 months. 

If you’re hosting Memorial Day festivities this year, you’re probably wondering exactly what you need to stock up on. Even if you have good food and company covered, there are a few more items you’ll need to pick up before the party. 

To point you in the right direction, here’s our hosting checklist for Memorial Day weekend covering everything else, from outdoor decór to backyard entertainment.

Memorial Day food and drink essentials

First things first— make sure you have all your food and drink essentials on hand before you branch out with decorations and entertainment. Many Memorial Day parties will be held outside, so stock up on outdoor-friendly serveware, drinkware and other dining essentials. 

A melamine plate set

Celebrate Americana Together Melamine Salad Plate Set

Everyday china may be too delicate for outdoor use, and paper plates are rather flimsy. Instead, invest in melamine dinnerware, like this Americana salad plate set, which is BPA-free, durable and dishwasher safe.

Where to buy: Kohl’s

A portable cooler

Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler

Keep bottled water and brews chilled in this convenient portable cooler. It holds up to 59 cans and has a side spigot for easy draining. 

Where to buy: Amazon

A timeless serving bowl

Lipper International Acacia Wave Serving Bowl

No matter what salad you’re serving up this Memorial Day, this elegant bowl will look great on your table. When it’s not holding greens, the timeless design functions as an everyday centerpiece. 

Where to buy: Amazon and Wayfair

A silverware caddy

Celebrate Americana Together Galvanized Silverware Caddy

Utensils and napkins stay organized and accessible in this stars-and-stripes caddy. It has four spacious compartments, and during the off-season, it’s ideal for holding art supplies or cosmetics. 

Where to buy: Kohl’s

Patriotic cupcake liners

Chef Craft 50-Count Cupcake Liners

From cupcakes to corn bread, these charming liners are essential Memorial Day baking accessories. The liners fit most average-size muffin pans and retain their shape well while in the oven. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Food baskets

New Star Fast Food Baskets

These fast food-inspired baskets are ideal for serving burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. They offer quick and easy cleanup when they’re covered with grease-proof liners.

Where to buy: Amazon

A chilled appetizer tray

Prodyne Appetizers on Ice

With warm weather on the horizon, this chilled appetizer tray is sure to be a hit at barbeques and cookouts. Load up ice in the lower level then cover the upper deck with veggies, cheese, shrimp or cold cuts. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Grill tool kit

Cuisinart Grill Tools Set

Upgrade your regular grill tools to this 13-piece kit by Cuisinart, which includes a convenient carry case. Tools are crafted from stainless steel and have ergonomic wood handles.

Where to buy: Amazon

A classic tumbler set

US Acrylic 24-Ounce Premium Plastic Tumblers

Pick up this six-piece set of BPA-free plastic tumblers that are shatter-resistant and well-suited for outdoor use. The 24-ounce tumblers are also top-rack dishwasher-safe. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Memorial Day meal ideas

Looking for Memorial Day meal ideas? Here’s a dash of culinary inspiration featuring fun new spins on barbecue and alfresco favorites.

Burgers and hot dogs

Burgers and hot dogs remain grill favorites, and this Memorial Day, punch up these classic dishes with gourmet condiments.

Terrapin Ridge Farms Spicy Chipotle Garnishing Sauce

Add a spicy kick to burger and hot dogs with this well-balanced chipotle sauce. It’s also vegan, low carb, low sugar and Keto-friendly as well as gluten- and dairy-free. 

Where to buy: Amazon 

Inglehoffer Applewood Smoked Bacon Mustard

This bold mustard has a sweet, spicy finish that gives any burger or hot dog restaurant-quality flavor. As an added bonus, it’s free of cholesterol, preservatives and trans fats. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Grilled chicken

Introduce a new flavor profile to grilled chicken. These spice blends work well for grilled chicken sandwiches and grilled chicken topped salads.

FreshJax Citrus Pepper Blend

Go fresh and bold with this organic seasoning blend, which has a unique blend of lemon, lime, orange and black pepper. The seasoning is non-GMO, Certified Kosher and gluten-free. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Island Spice Jerk Seasoning of Jamaica

Straight out of Jamaica, this jerk seasoning gives chicken a flavor-rich Caribbean twist. It’s a versatile seasoning, and there's a good chance you’ll end up sprinkling it on other dishes, too.

Where to buy: Amazon


If you’d like to whip up homemade desserts this Memorial Day, here are a few quick and easy ideas that are outdoor-friendly.

Pistachio pudding pie

  • Take a box of pistachio instant pudding and follow preparation instructions for pudding pie. 
  • Pour mix into a graham cracker crust pie shell
  • Let sit for four hours before serving. 
  • Garnish with ground pistachios, chocolate chips or Oreo cookie crumbs.

Peach and nectarine popsicles

  • Blend until smooth: 2 large ripe peaches, 2 large ripe nectarines, 1 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt and ⅓ cup coconut flakes.
  • Sweeten as desired with sugar, stevia or honey and blend again.
  • Pour mix into popsicle molds and let freeze overnight. 

Simple pineapple sunshine cake

  • Take a box of yellow cake mix and follow preparation and baking instructions.
  • After the cake cools completely, drizzle dark rum over it and let sit. 
  • Thaw an 8-ounce container of light whipped topping. Drain a 15-ounce can of crushed pineapple. Combine both these ingredients, plus one packet of instant vanilla pudding, for the “frosting” topping.
  • Add frosting as desired to the top of the cake. Chill cake in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  • Serve in squares and garnish slices with maraschino cherries.

Outdoor decor for Memorial Day

If you’re wondering how to decorate your outdoor space for a Memorial Day party, keep it simple and stick to red, white and blue. Here are a few festive outdoor decór pieces we like:

Starry string lights

Twinkle Star LED Star String Lights

If you expect your Memorial Day party to run into the evening, invest in these starry string lights that shine in bright white. The string is equipped with eight light modes, including twinkle, flash or slow fade.

Where to buy: Amazon

A welcoming wreath

Celebrate Americana Together Wood Curl Wreath

Simple yet friendly, this inviting wreath adds a patriotic pop of color to any door. It’s hand-crafted with birch wood, paper and ribbon.

Where to buy: Kohl’s

A red, white and blue tablecloth

Celebrate Americana Together Plaid Tablecloth

Adorn tables indoors or outdoors with this classic plaid tablecloth. In addition to being machine-washable, the tablecloth is sustainably made and PVC-free. 

Where to buy: Kohl's

A versatile table runner

Celebrate Americana Together Braided Table Runner

This jute-and-cotton table runner is a popular choice for a simple centerpiece. It has a tight, fray-resistant weave and is designed to last through years of use. 

Where to buy: Kohl's

Fun things to do Memorial Day weekend

Looking for ways to entertain your guests? Get the whole group involved in these fun outdoor games, activities and arts and crafts. 

A Bluetooth speaker

JBL Charge 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Stream your favorite tunes indoors or outdoors with a Bluetooth speaker, like JBL Charge 4. Considered an outdoor party essential, it delivers rich sound quality and offers nearly 20 hours of playtime. 

Where to buy: Amazon

A stacking tower game

GoSports Giant Wooden Toppling Tower

Everyone’s favorite indoor stacking game is now lifesize at nearly five feet tall. The game set includes 54 giant blocks and features a colorful stars-and-stripes theme.

Where to buy: Amazon

A rock painting set

Dan & Darci Rock Painting Kit for Kids

This rock painting kit comes with 10 smooth rocks as well as paints, stickers and googly eyes to decorate them. It’s an ideal arts and craft activity for kids ages six and older. 

Where to buy: Amazon

A volleyball and badminton set

Baden Champions Volleyball Combo Set

Touted as a must-have backyard game, this volleyball and badminton kit is a favorite for small and medium-size groups. All equipment is weather-resistant and fits inside a convenient carry case.

Where to buy: Amazon

A tie-dying kit

Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Party Kit

This tie-dye set includes enough dye and supplies for a party of six people. The kit includes user-friendly instructions, making it a popular choice for those new to tie-dying. 

Where to buy: Amazon

A classic backyard game

EastPoint Sports Cornhole Set

Portable and easy to set up, this cornhole set is great whether you’re hosting Memorial Day or heading to someone else’s backyard. The game set includes eight premium cloth bean bags, two boards and a carry case.

Where to buy: Amazon

A splash pad for kids

Zen Laboratory Splash Pad

If you’re expecting a warm Memorial Day, help kids stay cool with this inflatable splash pad. It’s made with BPA- and phthalate-free plastic and measures 68 inches in diameter. 

Where to buy: Amazon


Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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