Labor Day began in the 1880s to celebrate American workers for all their efforts. And now, we celebrate the end of summer fun.
Whether you’re hosting an impromptu gathering, or are planning a large family/friend bash, here are some ideas to help you make your Labor Day amazing.
Two words: bright and bold. Since your party will most likely be happening outdoors, you’ll probably want to decorate your buffet table. On top of themed napkins, silverware and straws, you can add a few colorful ribbons. Red, white and blue are the perfect colors for them, and you can add them to the various containers you’ll be displaying.
Don’t hesitate to add personal touches while keeping with the overall decor. Makeshift decorative paper banners, vibrant accessories, and other national flags are great ideas.
Debbiedoo’s also had the brilliant idea to put up painted upcycled cans outside. And, given the theme, you may want to encourage your friends, families and guests to relax. Pull out comfortable lounge chairs, hammocks, and blankets or pillows. Lush and colorful!
Modern Mom offers a few great entertaining games for your Labor Day. Here are a couple:
Labor Day Charades
In honor of the worker, players in a Labor Day game of charades act out all kinds of jobs–everything from a sewer worker to a college dean. You can create slips of paper with names of jobs before the party or let players make them before starting play. The idea is to get teammates to guess what kinds of actions they are performing and what kind of work goes along with that action. You can suggest playing the game with some simple rules or, for those who want to play the game the traditional way, come armed with some typical rules from a source such as Enjoy a Game.
In many communities, the emphasis on Labor Day is that it signals the informal end of summer. In keeping with that theme, you can give guests a chance to say goodbye to summer with such games as a water balloon fight, a watermelon-spitting contest or a game of softball. You might also come up with some funny summer-related relays such as giving each team an enormous swimming suit that team members must take turns putting on (over their clothes), running to a folded beach chair, setting the chair up, sitting in it momentarily and running back to the next player.
And since it’s still Summer-time, enjoy that backyard of yours with some great family games that can involve the outdoors. SheKnows has a few ideas on the subject, including a way to create your own Backyard Bowling:
Bowling is always fun, but who wants to be cooped up in a bowling alley when it’s gorgeous outside? Bowl right in your backyard for a fun time with your family. Pick up an outdoor bowling set at most stores where toys are sold or easily make your own. Collect 10 2-liter bottles and use them for your pins. Use any ball you have (basketballs work great) as your bowling ball. Put a few inches of water at the bottom of each bottle for weight. If you want to get fancy, make a family project out of painting the bottles, either to resemble actual bowling pins or with any design you like.
Given that temperatures will probably be high, you should hydrate yourself with style. Joy the Baker has given out an awesome recipe to create your own Lavender Lemonade:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 heaping tablespoons dried culinary lavender
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice
- 4 cups water (plus more to your taste)
In a medium pot over medium heat, combine 2 cups water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in honey and lavender. Cover and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain out lavender and press buds into the bottom of the strainer to release any syrup left behind.
In a large pitcher, combine lemon juice, lavender syrup, and water. Stir and chill. Serve cold, over ice.
You can also celebrate original ingredients that harken back to the season. For example, you can stay healthy by making your own kale chips following Mia Loves Pretty’s recipe:
- Bunch of Kale (preferably organic!)
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Black Lava salt or Flakey sea salt
- Oven preheated to 180 degrees celcius
Wash your bunch of kale and chop off the stems so that you are left with just the curly leaves. Slice up the leaves in bite sized portions (about one or 2 inch in length). Spread the kale leaves on a baking tray prepared with a baking sheet / baking paper.
Drizzle over with the olive oil, sesame oil and then finish with a sprinkling of your preferred salt
Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Once you start hearing sizzling going on, you know the Kale is near ready. I pulled mine out as soon as I saw the tips of the leaves start going golden brown.
- 2 slices bread (any — I used wheat)
- about 1 tbsp butter, enough to thinly butter one side of each slice
- 2 slices American cheese (but I can see any kind of meltable cheese working here — pepperjack, cheddar, Colby, provolone, etc. Also, of course you can add more cheese! I support the right to limitless cheese.)
- 1/2 cup kimchi, drained, patted dry, and chopped
1. Butter one side of each slice of bread, taking care to spread the butter to the very edges. (The very first time I tried to make a grilled cheese, sometime way back in high school, I didn’t do this and left a very clean black outline of a piece of toast in our frying pan. I’m not sure my mom ever got it off.) Note: Some people melt the butter directly into the skillet and then fry the bread in it, which I do not do. I find buttering the slices themselves to be a more precise use of the amount of butter I’ll need, and is likely a lesser amount as well. Also, if I have a toaster handy I like to lightly toast my bread beforehand, but that’s totally optional.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat, then place the slices of bread butter-side down. Next, you’ll need to add one slice of cheese to each slice of bread. If you’re using cheese that takes a bit of time to melt, you may want to add your slices right away. If you’re using the questionable processed Kraft kind (me! no shame), then wait until the bread is lightly browned (I just lift up the bread to take a peek) before adding the cheese, or else it’ll melt everywhere and no one wants that. I have an irrational dislike of melting cheese burning on a skillet.
3. Layer kimchi over one slice only — this makes flipping the other one to combine them easier. Another note: Some people recommend panfrying the kimchi on its own to get it warmed up and add some crispy bits, as well as avoiding sogginess. If you’re feeling really decadent you can panfry in butter and then your mind will be really blown. I did that for the quesadilla. But I felt like keeping things (and cleaning) simple, so I just added the kimchi straight and did not find that it made the sandwich texture any less enjoyable, maybe because it’s cushioned with cheese on both sides. Omit this step altogether for regular grilled cheese. :)
4. Let the bread fry on the skillet until golden brown and the cheese is melted on top. Depending on your skillet, you may want to lower the heat at this point to medium-low or low heat to prevent burning (is there anything as sad as a burned grilled cheese?) Finally, flip the cheese-only slice onto the kimchi-and-cheese slice (highly technical terms are these) to complete the sandwich, and press lightly on top with a spatula to get them to really squish together. Remove and let cool, then slice and serve!
Finally, conclude the festivities with some delicious desserts. Two Peas & Their Pod has an amazing recipe to come up with your own Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies. Tasty.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 (3.4 oz) package lemon instant pudding mix
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried blueberries
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, rub the granulated sugar and lemon zest together, using your fingers, until fragrant. Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add in lemon pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the dried blueberries and white chocolate chips.
3. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges and set. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
You’re now ready for an amazing Labor Day!
What are some of your own favorite traditions?