Celebrate the end of summer with a Labor Day picnic. This holiday was federally recognized in 1894 as a way to honor American workers. Today, it’s still observed for that reason—and it’s a great opportunity to say farewell to summer and get in a fall mood. We’ve put together five tips to help you make your Labor Day celebration the best it can be.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time or effort on picnic invites. If you’re the formal type, pick up some blank invitations from a stationery store and fill the details in by hand, or you can print custom ones using a graphic design program on your computer. There are many apps and design software programs with invitation templates that you can customize to fit your needs.
If you prefer casual invitations, call or email your invitees. You could even send your closest friends and relatives an invite by text. If you do end up inviting people over the phone or when you run into them in person, follow up with an email or text to remind them of the event. It’s a good idea to send invites a couple of weeks before the event, then remind your guests a few days prior.
One of the most important parts of any picnic is the menu. Hot dogs and hamburgers are classic picnic foods that you can cook on your grill in a short amount of time. You may want to also provide vegetarian options—like meatless patties and skewers piled with colorful assorted veggies.
Side dishes are also a must-have for any summer gathering. Cold salads like pasta and potato salad are popular picnic dishes; you can also have chips and crudités with dip. When it comes to dessert, fresh fruit is a healthy summer treat. But if you or your guests have a major sweet tooth, you might also offer cupcakes or ice cream.
If you’re not sure what to serve, ask your guests to contribute ideas. Some people might have food sensitivities, which is important to know ahead of time. Consider having your picnic catered if you’re looking to cut down on party prep time. Plus, some caterers may have special Labor Day menus for parties.
You may want to have entertainment at your Labor Day picnic, such as music and games. Kids and adults can enjoy throwing water balloons or playing beanbag toss. Alternatively, you could set up a badminton net or volleyball net. As with the menu, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to deciding on fun things to do at your picnic.
If you decide on water-based fun at your picnic, make sure to mention it on your invitations so guests can come prepared with swimsuits, towels, and a change of clothes. You can provide beach towels for your guests, but some attendees may want to bring their own.
Decorate your picnic area with streamers and balloons to mark the party location and add a festive touch. If you’re celebrating in your backyard, consider placing some tiki torches around for lighting after the sun starts to set. String lights are another option for soft illumination and a festive look. Although most picnics are held during the day, an evening soiree can be just as fun (and may help keep guests from baking in the sun!).
There are some other advantages to an evening celebration—in addition to the lighting, you could have a fire pit where guests can roast marshmallows for s’mores. Another idea is to finish your celebration with a movie night; there are home projectors and screens designed for outdoor use. There are lots of workplace-themed movies to consider—from serious films like Norma Rae to comedies such as Office Space.
When it comes to your outdoor furniture, a brightly colored paper or vinyl tablecloth for your dining table is an economical option. You can mark each place setting with a placemat that coordinates with the rest of your decorations. Going over the top with picnic decorations is unnecessary—a few accents are all you need to impart a celebratory look to the space.
Make sure you’re comfortable all day with the right Labor Day outfit. Cotton dresses are cool and comfy for any summer event including a picnic. If you prefer shorts, consider women’s Bermuda shorts and a Supima cotton tee. Or create a stylish outfit with elastic-waist capri pants and a short-sleeve tunic. Women’s tunics offer hip-length coverage and come in a wide range of styles, colors, and prints. When choosing what to wear, opt for a soft, breathable fabric that allows for freedom of movement.
With a little preparation, you can plan a Labor Day picnic that’s fun for everyone. The most important part of any celebration is spending time with friends and family—so don’t stress over the details and make sure to enjoy yourself.