How to Have a Small Memorial Day Gathering

If your Memorial Day plans look a little different this year, that's OK. We'll show you how to make the most of it in your own backyard.

Over the past year, we’ve all learned how to celebrate from a distance. And with the unofficial start of summer just a few weeks away, some of us are still trading block parties and lake house bashes for something a little smaller.

That’s why we’re here to help you plan a fun-packed day for you and your household. You’ll find all of the Memorial Day traditions you know and love—grilled foods, yard games, patriotic displays—all pared down for just a few people.

Psst! Before you get started, learn how to get your grill ready for summer.

Small-Batch Memorial Day Recipes

Grilled-Brats-with-Sriracha-MayoTaste of Home

We’ve been waiting all year for summer eats. Burgers fresh from the grill, tangy potato salad, juicy watermelon—it’s hard to pick a favorite! On Memorial Day, serve up the classic dishes your family knows and loves.

  • Memorial Day Cookout: Party of four? Try these tasty renditions of BBQ chicken, strawberry shortcake, summer salads and more. No need to box up a bunch of leftovers!
  • Picnic Sides: If it’s not Memorial Day without your family’s secret potluck pasta salad recipe, that’s OK. You can cut down the recipe. Or, try something new with these small-batch sides.
  • Sweet Treats: Arguably the best part of a Memorial Day spread, these small-batch desserts scream “summer.” You’ll find patriotic berry recipes, s’mores, grilled fruits and more.

What to Do on Memorial Day

Homemade corn hole board game in grass in summertimeDavidPrahl/Getty Images

If your community cancelled parades and other festivities, you can still have a wonderful day at home or at a local park. Here’s how we’re celebrating:

  • Honor Our Veterans: With all the excitement over summer, it can be easy to forget about the true meaning of Memorial Day. Show respect for our fallen service members by displaying American flags in your front yard or making a donation to a local veterans charity.
  • Relax Outdoors: These are trying times—we all deserve a little break. Spend time lounging in a hammock or patio chair, or spread out on a blanket in the grass. Your body will thank you for the fresh air and vitamin D.
  • Play a Game: Set up some friendly family competition in a game of cornhole, Bocce ball, badminton or tug of war. Pit the kids against the adults or boys versus girls. If the weather isn’t cooperating, bring the fun indoors with a board game.
  • Connect with Loved Ones—Virtually: If you can’t be together in-person, settle for the next best thing. Call up grandma and grandpa on the phone or set up a family video call. For more ideas, check out our guide to hosting a virtual party.
  • Host an Outdoor Movie Night: The fun doesn’t have to end once the sun goes down! Plan an outdoor movie screening of your family’s favorite film or TV show. (Find full instructions on how to set it up here.) Don’t forget the popcorn!

No matter how you spend the day, we realize that it’s going to feel a bit different than years’ past. But with a little creative thinking, you can create special memories with those closest to you. Now, who wants another hot dog?

All-American Recipes for Memorial Day
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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.