How to Plan the Easiest Backyard Party

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Hosting a backyard party for Memorial Day or 4th of July doesn't need to be stressful. Get out of the kitchen and enjoy your friends and family with these easy tips.

A young girl picks a slice of watermelon from a tray in the backyard.

Raise your hand if your memories of childhood holidays are filled with mental snapshots of mom prepping food in the kitchen while you played somewhere else.

I love an awesome holiday feast more than your average mom. I readily admit I love to make desserts from scratch and tasty dishes for our holiday table.

But after two pretty solid years of crazy-busy work for my cookbooks, I'm ready to focus on what really matters in the coming months -- time with my kids having fun.

For Memorial Day weekend, I made the conscious choice to keep things EASY. Like ridiculously crazy easy. I wanted to be outside in the yard with my kids, not killing myself over food in the kitchen.

As we're about to dive head first into the summer party season, I wanted to share the three things I think you should keep in mind when it comes to entertaining with kids.

I hope you are encouraged to relax and enjoy your family a little bit more than you otherwise would.

A simple spread of food for the party shoes all the finished recipes on a table.

1. Plan a SIMPLE MENU:

This tends to be my downfall. I *think* I'm planning easy foods and then when it comes time to execute it, it's not really all that easy after all.

This year, I feel like we totally nailed our Memorial Day Menu.

Here is a list of everything you need for a simply perfect backyard party menu:

  • 1 - 2 packages of brats or Italian sausages: even easier than hamburgers, no forming or prep work of any kind. Literally, just throw them on the grill.
  • 1 -2 packages of long buns
  • Steamed fresh corn cobs: Bring a big pot of water to boil, add 1 tbsp of sugar and the corn. Let simmer for 12 minutes and then turn the heat off. The corn can keep warm in the water until the brats are ready to go.
  • Fresh watermelon: Cut into triangles, done.
  • 1 container of cottage cheese
  • A bag of salty potato chips
  • Lemonade
  • An easy ice cream dessert

If you're feeding a larger crowd, or want more healthy side dishes, be sure to check out my list of fresh Memorial Day salad recipes and Memorial Day dessert recipes.

Hosting a bigger crowd for your party?

If you've got a big family, you'll love these 40 easy meals for large groups.

2. Get Out and Play:

Now that you're out of the kitchen, what do you do with the kids??

To be perfectly honest, I spent a lot of Memorial Day visiting with my mom on the patio while the kids played catch. But we are always prepped for a little fun together.

5 fun backyard games to play with your kids! Game #1: Host a cornhole tournament!

Our Top 5 Backyard Family Games

Cornhole: We keep the rules easy with teams of 2 against each other. A beanbag goes in the hole = 1 point. The first team to 5 points wins. We bought a wooden set we were able to paint with our own designs just like this one.

Catch: We keep balls of varying sizes and now baseball gloves in a bin outside. This is a simple go-to game that lets everyone keep chatting.

Checkers: I'm the reigning champ. Checkers is my superpower and the kids have yet to beat me. They're getting close, though. Little Pea nearly crushed me yesterday. We love a sturdy wooden set I bought years ago just like this one. It's perfect for playing under the umbrella on the patio when the sun is still really hot and strong.

Bocce ball: This was one of my favorites as a kid. I love that it requires almost zero set-up. We haven't played it with our kids yet, but I have my eye on this set here.

Badmitton: I don't know why this game is so addictive, but I love the backyard tennis-themed game. This portable set has a pop-up net that folds back down into an awesome carrying case. This would even be fun to take to the beach house this summer!

3. Crank the Tunes

What's a party without a little music?

We love the playlists on Spotify. This Backyard BBQ list is perfect for families.

We just hook up to a portable bluetooth speaker and set it on the patio table.

Looking for more easy backyard party recipes?

Don't miss these family favorite recipes:

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