Two cheerful cute little sisters playing and having fun, splashing and jumping in inflatable pool at backyard

The unofficial start to summer is just around the corner with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend! While this year’s holiday celebration might be far different from any other year, thanks to the coronavirus, there still are so many amazing ways families and friends can enjoy the long weekend, celebrate summer and more importantly, honor those veterans who sacrificed so much for our everyday freedoms.

Afternoon parties at the pool, neighborhood picnics, patriotic programs at the local cemetery and even those favorite firefighter pancake breakfasts have all likely been canceled or rescheduled. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t continue on with some traditions, create some ones and tweak your favorite celebrations.

Here are my favorite ideas, but for more, visit our Summer Lovin’ board on Pinterest.

Continuing traditions

Memorial Day weekend is the perfect weekend to officially dust off that barbecue grill, clean up all the lawn furniture, spruce up the yard and have a perfect summer cookout. And while you might not be able to host more than 20 of your family and friends like you might have in years past, you certainly can still cook up a feast for your closest friends and family.

Break out the burgers and hot dogs. Slice up that watermelon. Whip up some potato salad. Make some fresh lemonade. And, if you’re like me and have been spending all sorts of time in the kitchen trying out new recipes, bake up a spectacular dessert you might not have had time for in previous years. Try your hand at cake decorating and make a spectacular layer cake. Test your new bread-making skills and make homemade hamburger buns. Or, make a beautiful layered trifle.

Tweak favorite traditions

What do your typical Memorial Day plans consist of? Do you usually spend hours at the pool? Do you set up camp at your favorite state or national park? Do you relish those peaceful moments decorating graves? Or do you pack up a picnic dinner and enjoy the first outdoor concert of the season? While most of these holiday activities aren’t possible this year, there are ways you can put a fun new spin on these ideas to still enjoy a great summery weekend.

Instead of the city pool, set up a backyard water park of sorts. Pull out all the hoses, sprinklers, water balloons, pool toys, water guns and Slip ‘n’ Slide and host a great afternoon water party. Missing camping? Pitch your tent in the backyard and invest in a metal fire pit to enjoy s’mores and hot dogs. Cue up a patriotic playlist on Spotify, grab some fried chicken and enjoy an outdoor concert in your backyard. And head off to the cemetery in the early, predawn light to decorate without the crowds.

Start new traditions

While we’ve all been social distancing and adapting to our new normal, many, many things have been sacrificed, postponed and even canceled, it has been amazing just how resilient and resourceful we have all become. Altered graduation ceremonies have been just one amazing example of how starting new traditions can help buoy up people’s spirits while also creating new, unprecedented memories.

There are several ways you can celebrate Memorial Day in a time of COVID. Honor our veterans by hosting a war movie marathon, selecting different favorites form each war. Write letters to the men and women currently serving and send the letters in a fun care package. Take your kids on a fun patriotic scavenger hunt though your own house and neighborhood. You can even create patriotic artwork you can deliver to the nearest veteran’s hospital.

— Jennifer Durrant

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