Labor Day Essentials for a Small-Scale Celebration
No Labor Day gathering—either big or small—would be complete without great food and fun games for family and friends to enjoy. This year, make the most of the final days of summer and your highly-anticipated day off from work with a celebration. Here, we're sharing our best outdoor activities, décor ideas, recipes the whole family will love, and crafts to keep both the kids and adults entertained all day long.
Whether you prefer to throw laid-back parties or like to go all out for your get-togethers, our ideas will appeal to everyone looking to celebrate Labor Day this year. A proper day of rest and relaxation starts with fun games that can truly let you enjoy the fruits of your labor—sans the stress. What better way than to kick back and relax than with a low-stress, low-work game of croquet? This lawn game is a favorite of Martha's, too. Make sure you have wickets, stakes, colorful balls, and mallets on hand to set up this outdoor activity like a pro. If you prefer crafts to games, we have a few fun ideas. Start the day by ice-dyeing napkins, then hang them to dry and use them on the tabletops come dinner.
In order to make your gathering really feel like a party, you'll need to set up décor that speaks to the occasion. Set the scene, starting with your tabletop decorations. Simply add a festive tablecloth to instantly make your party feel like a Labor Day bash. Once the table is set and your decorations are in place, all that's left to handle is the food. We suggest serving grilled favorites and cooling drinks all day long. And don't forget about dessert! Nothing says summertime like ice-cold ice cream. While scoops on a cone are always nice, we like to serve something a little more exciting, such as our lemon-spice ice cream sandwiches.
Read on to discover more ideas to add in your Labor Day party plans so the celebration will go off without a hitch.
Labor Day Party Invitations
First, you'll need to get out the word out about your Labor Day bash. These cheerful clip-art invitations will do the trick. Each sheet, sized for home printers, has individual cards with perforated deckle edges. Using the template couldn't be easier: Create your design on a computer, print it on a sheet, and then remove the borders. The paper typically comes in multiple sizes; we used the sheets with 3.4-by-5.25-inch cards to create our Labor Day party invitations.
Shop Now: Strathmore Fluorescent White with Deckle Creative Cards, 5" by 7," $10, michaels.com.
Stunning décor doesn't have to be difficult to make. Create origami lanterns by folding a 25-inch square of vellum paper following the illustrations; blowing into the bottom to expand the paper, and threading a four-foot piece of string through the hole and out the bottom of the lantern. Next, tie a battery-operated candle to string 18 inches from the end. Attach a large paper clip to the string about three inches above the candle. Pull on the other end of the string until the paper clip catches on the top of the lantern. Tie a ribbon to the string at the bottom of balloon; trim excess string. Tie the other end of string to a pole.
Seersucker is always fitting for a warm-weather party, and these napkins are no exception. The classic fabric is inexpensive and available at almost any cloth store, so you can mix and match a few colors. To make napkins out of this material fitting for Labor Day, create a fringed border by using a pin to pull out several threads. As it's washed, the border will continue to unravel, creating a more relaxed look (think cutoff shorts). If you want to minimize this, sew a straight line at the root of the fringe.
Shop Now: Sew Classics Into Spring Seersucker Cotton Fabric, $6 per yard, joann.com.
Lemon-Spice Ice Cream Sandwiches
With the summer heat oftentimes at its best around Labor Day, there are few things as satisfying than cooling off with a chilled sweet. This recipe blends the all-around favorite dessert with a hint of ginger and lemon zest and juice for a tangy, potent twist. You can also put your fingerprints on this dish by blending mandarin-orange sorbet or jam with vanilla ice cream to make this recipe your own.
Build a Tree Swing
Get to swinging with this fun addition to your yard. Begin by drilling a 3/8-inch hole through the limb of a tree. Attach an eyebolt with a washer and locknut. Loop the rope around the tire; then tie a knot. Loop the other end around the quick link, adjusting the length as necessary (a tire should hang high enough so feet won't drag, but it should be low enough so kids can stop themselves); cut off any excess rope. Lastly secure the knot and fasten to the eyebolt, and you will be ready to hop on.
Hot summer days call for a pick-me-up to stay refreshed. Watermelons are one of the most thirst-quenching fruits, so what better way to stay hydrated than with the treat mixed into a delicious tea. This beverage combines watermelon, lemon, and white tea for an Arnold Palmer-like drink mixed with a cooling slushie.
Watermelon, Orange, and Feta Salad
A side dish that will please a variety of palates is essential. This salad tastes of summertime with the mix of fresh fruit with refreshing and tangy flavors that close family will love. The best part? It just takes one step to make. Top off the spread with olive oil, salt, and pepper to give it the perfect sweet and salty finish.
Greek Shrimp Skewers with Chopped-Zucchini Salad
This seafood-based main dish captures the essence of summer, and this Greek-inspired dish makes for an even more anticipated and diverse eating experience. Serve the skewers cooked couscous for a light, tasty warm-weather dinner.
Outdoor Party Games
A Labor Day celebration that everyone will love starts with games for all ages. One of Martha's favorites? Croquet. Set up a variety of fun games, like sponge dodge ball or a game of tin can toss. Hassle-free activities like these will create long-lasting memories with little prep necessary.
There's plenty to cheer about when these pom-poms are part of your holiday celebration. To create them, being by layering fringed segments of paper and rolling them up on end of a dowel. Next, apply tape repeatedly along the unfringed edge of tissue paper as you roll. Cut a cone of card stock and wrap it around the base of the pom-pom—taping it to secure your finished spirit-on-a-stick.
Shop Now: Midwest Products Birch Dowels, 1/16'' by 12,'' from $3.28 for a pack of 10, dickblick.com; Celebrate It Solid Tissue Value Pack, $8.49, michaels.com; Artist's Loft Beige Artist's Tape, $10, michaels.com.
Want to test out your dyeing skills in a new way? Enter ice dyeing. All you need is ice, fabric of your choosing, and powder dye. The easy-to-follow steps will have you dyeing and decorating in no time. Soon you'll be making items like napkins, tablecloths, and more.
Quinoa Feta Burgers
Dish out a hardy burger—sans the meat. This vegetarian-friendly option is made from a tasty blend of quinoa and kidney beans for a meal that is still just as delicious and satisfying as any other burger. While the patties can be thrown on the grill the day-of for extra fresh flavor, you can prep your burgers the night before.
Create a bold tablecloth to pair with your napkins and other tabletop essentials. To make your own, buy enough yardage to allow for about six inches of overhang on a table, then run the edges through a sewing machine to hem the fabric of your choosing.
Shop Now: Richloom Classics Solarium Navy Home Décor Fabric, $12 per yard, michaels.com.
Keep cool at your Labor Day festivities. Begin by creating a hole in a side table with a round hole-saw bit the same width as your umbrella pole, and mark the center of a table with painters' tape; in addition to helping you hit the bull's-eye, the tape prevents a hollow MDF table from splintering. Drill through the table, sand any rough edges, touch up the tabletop with paint, and let it dry.
Take your décor up a notch with creative medallions. Begin by cutting a length of fabric: The width will be the diameter of the medallion; the length should be 1.6 times the width. Fold fabric accordion-style in 1 1/2-inch sections. After each fold, spray with starch, and iron. Stitch along the middle of the folded rectangle to create a pivot point, then trim both ends of the pleated rectangle at a 45-degree angle. Connect sides of the rectangle by fanning out fabric from the center stitch and adhering with fusible webbing; then iron. Sandwich a piece of ribbon between the fusible webbing and the fabric. Connect the remaining sides with fusible webbing, or tape for easy storage. Stitch the monofilament through the fused edge in the back, and hang for the finished product.
Raffia Pom-Pom Napkin Rings
Give your napkins festive flair with this DIY craft. All you need are three materials: raffia, a pom-pom maker, and pieces of wire. Mix and match the rings with your cloths to create bright colors that will pop.
Spray-Painted Gift Bag
Give your guests with a little memento they can take home after the festivities end. Whether you're more of a plant person or prefer to whip up baked goods, these spray-painted paper bags will allow you to fill them with whatever your heart desires. Just make sure to have plenty of paper bags on hand and a spray paint color you love. Let the paint dry thoroughly before you drop the keepsakes inside.