The weather is finally warming up, and Memorial Day is nearly upon us. It’s time to start planning those picnics! If you’ve got kids, they’ll be home for a long Memorial Day weekend, so it’s important to include them in the picnic, if not in the preparation. Here are a few ideas for family-friendly Memorial Day picnics that are sure to leave everyone with a smile on their face.
Plan for Entertainment — and Naps
Keeping your kids entertained and out from underfoot during a picnic can be a headache if you haven’t planned ahead with some fun things for them to do during the event. Scavenger hunts can be a good activity, but you do need to set them up ahead of time. Balls and other outdoor toys are also a great idea — kids can keep themselves entertained if they have something to play with. Just remember, they get bored easily, so make sure they’ve got a few options to choose from. Warm Memorial Day weather is also an ideal time to play in the water. If you don’t have a pool, set up a sprinkler and invest in some reusable water balloons. They still soak you with water, but you don’t have the hassle of filling them up with water in the morning or picking up all the pieces of balloon rubber in the afternoon. Plus, they’re super easy to refill from a tap or a bucket of water, so your kids can go crazy. Just make sure they don’t throw any on the grill! If you’re planning a long afternoon picnic, make sure you plan for naps — otherwise you’ll have some grumpy kids on your hands. A couple of air mattresses under a gazebo can make a perfect little napping oasis. Plus, if your kids are wet from the water balloons, an air mattress won’t be damaged by a little water.
Include Kid-Friendly Foods — and Let Them Help
Even the pickiest adult eaters can usually find something at a potluck or picnic they can enjoy eating. With kids, on the other hand, if they don’t find familiar foods, you might be out of luck. Let your kids help plan the menu — or at least what you’re going to be bringing to the picnic — so you’ve got plenty of food you know they will eat without too much fighting. Pack plenty of snacks as well, just in case all your little ones want to do is run around. Granola bars, fruit snacks and other handheld treats are usually smart to keep around during a picnic. A few other food ideas include:
- Build-Your-Own Hot Dog Bar: You can’t go wrong with the classic kid food, the hot dog. Set up a build-your-own hot dog bar with condiments and toppings and let your kids go a little crazy. You don’t have to worry about it being a super messy meal because you’re eating outside!
- Fresh Fruit Trifles: Trifles are a tasty treat made with layers of fruit and whipped topping. These can be made ahead or right at the picnic. It’s easy for kids to make their own, too — with younger kids, you might just end up with a bowl of fruit topped with whipped cream, which is totally okay!
- Sliders: The adults might be enjoying quarter-pound hamburgers with all the fixings, but that’s going to be too big for most small bellies. For the smaller guests, whip up some sliders — essentially small hamburgers — and let them pick their toppings.
- S’mores: For Memorial Day picnics that are extending into the evening, s’mores can be a great treat. Start a small fire in the firepit or simply stoke the grill again so the kids can roast their marshmallows and enjoy the melty chocolaty goodness that is a classic s’more.
Break out the Sparklers
Sure, Memorial Day isn’t a day that’s traditionally associated with fireworks shows, but it also falls close enough to the 4th of July that you might see some fireworks in your local stores — or maybe you have a few leftovers from previous 4th of July festivities. Once the sun starts to go down, break out the sparklers and let your kids spin and play with the lights as they burn.
Remember What It’s About
This might not work for younger children, but for older kids, all of your picnic prep can also be a good time to remember what Memorial Day is actually about – honoring those who have given their lives in the service of this country. If you have a military cemetery nearby, or you happen to live near Arlington, why not go out and pay your respects to the fallen? If there are no cemeteries nearby, consider putting together a care package or sending a letter to soldiers overseas. Memorial Day should be fun for the whole family, so when you’re planning your picnic and other festivities, make sure you prepare a day that everyone can enjoy, no matter their age.