By Merissa Principe

Trying to plan the perfect Labor Day party for this weekend? Get ready to be the talk of the town with these simple, stress-free, tips and tricks. Soak up the final days of summer as you entertain your guests in the great outdoors with minimal effort main dishes, simple decor and classic party favors that will wow on a budget.

Setting The Mood

Take full advantage of the final days of summer by entertaining your guests in the great outdoors. In the spirit of classic Americana, decorate your outdoor space in red, white and blue with a rustic flare. Set the mood by hanging mason jars with twine around the space filled with white candles to create extra light at night. Reserve a few extra jars to lay across your table as a centerpiece. Buy red, white and blue bandanas in bulk, cutting them into triangles to make a bandana banner fastened and hung with twine. Set the table with a brown kraft paper table cover and add three to four layers of newspaper in the center to make a “table runner.” Then, add a few candle filled mason jars from earlier as well as three mason jars filled with your choice of local flora to create a simple yet elegant center piece. Pretty plates adorned with bandana napkins add a pop of color to tie back into your patriotic theme. Not to mention, refreshing strawberry/blueberry flavored water served with a fun patriotic straw in a mason jar.

The Main Event

Keep it casual for the main event with little to no time in the kitchen and minimal cleanup. Make the best of your local daily catch with a low country seafood boil. In a large stock pot of salted boiling water, add in a pound of red potatoes, a whole onion cut lengthwise, a few thyme springs, linguiça sausage cut into pieces and a few generous sprinkles of old bay seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium and after about 20 minutes, add corn cut into fourths and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Finally, add in the unpeeled shrimp and cook for three to five minutes until the shrimp are opaque. Drain and pour the contents directly onto the newspaper “table runner,” removing the center piece mason jars. Set the table with a few tin buckets to serve snacks, like oyster bay crackers or fresh dinner rolls and catch any seafood cast offs. Lay out plenty of lemon wedges, melted garlic butter and bottles of white wine. Provide tongs and plenty of extra paper towel napkins to keep it clean. Once you’ve finished eating simply roll up the table kraft paper cover and discard. The only thing left to wash will be the stock pot. Leaving you more time to enjoy the rest of your holiday with loved ones.

Bon Voyage

Of course, no party is complete without a proper send off before heading back to school and work! Send your guests home with a DIY smores kit to remember how great their holiday weekend was. Using a small brown paper bag, add a few graham crackers, mini chocolate bars and a big fluffy marshmallow. A classic American treat to top off your successful Labor Day feast.

Merissa Principe is a teacher and a freelance travel blogger from NYC. Teaching early childhood education has provided Merissa an opportunity to travel all over the world and live in new places. Be sure to follow her at Citygirlriss.wordpress.com for all things travel, beauty, fashion and New York City.

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