Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner. In any normal year, that alone would be cause for excitement, but this long weekend is especially exciting now that more people are getting vaccinated and social distancing guidelines are loosening up. Whether you’re having friends over or heading out for a picnic or barbecue, we’ve got everything you’ll need. From an insulated koozie for your hard seltzer of choice, to a fancy hand towel to put out for your guests to use after they wash their hands, it’s time to get out and socialize.
To make your holiday prep easier, we’ve broken it down into three categories: Outdoors, Home Entertaining, and Cocktails.
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Picnics And Other Outdoor Related Activities
Packing ultra-durable metal utensils for a casual cookout or outdoor picnic feels sort of like taking a kayak to your neighborhood pool. It’s inappropriate and unnecessary. That’s why you should use these bamboo forks, knives, and spoons. They’re lightweight and reusable, plus they can be composted if they break.
A Great Beginner Smoker
This Weber charcoal smoker was our number one barbecue smoker pick, and is a great choice if you want to impress everyone with some perfectly tender brisket. But if you’re not ready to jump into smoking just yet, it also easily converts into a traditional charcoal grill for hot dogs and burgers.
A Loud Portable Speaker
The proper Memorial Day party vibe won’t just establish itself. You need some music - and that doesn’t mean a party guest on acoustic guitar playing a “Castaways” cover. Find yourself a bluetooth speaker, preferably a loud, durable, and waterproof one such as this.
A Discreet Drinking Vessel
In terms of aesthetics, this simply designed travel mug from Fellow is one of our absolute favorite options for covert public drinking. These also come in two highly practical sizes (12 and 16 ounces), and the openings were modeled after wine glasses, so you won’t feel as if you’re doing your Pet Nat a disservice.
A Versatile Outdoor Chair
If you’ve spent your summers lounging in parks and beaches on a blanket, a camping chair is the ultimate upgrade. Staff Writer Anne Cruz bought her ride or die chair for $10 and has used it for socially distant backyard hangs, beach days, camping trips and more. This chair from Coleman is a bit nicer, and it has a built in 4-can cooler to keep all your bevs conveniently close.
Some Fun Outdoor Activities
Cornhole is the perfect summer darty game: it’s easy and engaging enough that it’ll break the ice for folks who are readjusting to socialization, but not so intense that it dominates your party’s vibes. This set is regulation-sized to appease your more cornhole-avid guests.
This Nice Looking Outdoor Wine Glass
If you want to sip your glass of wine outdoors in style, this glass from W&P is wrapped in silicone, which should significantly decrease the odds of you smashing this cup into several million pieces. It also comes with a lid, so you can take your wine on the go.
The Ultimate Wine Protection
Yeti is known for excellent insulation. That’s why we trust them to keep our chilled wine at a temperature that’s acceptable for drinking. This tumbler with vacuum insulation and a magnetic lid should do the trick.
A Cottagecore Picnic Blanket
In parks or any outdoor picnic situation, blankets are a currency. The best option can fit a few friends, keep your clothes clean and dry, and be spotted from afar like this well-reviewed $30 one on Amazon.
The Perfect Portable Picnic Table
If your Memorial Day plans involve any sort of al-fresco dining, you’re probably going to need a big table. This folding version can be spruced up with a cute tablecloth and can be easily stored in an apartment closet or under your bed when it’s not in use.
Don't Forget Some Sunscreen
Sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine, not just on days you plan on baking all-day in the sun at the park or beach. We love Supergoop’s SPF 50 sunscreen, since it doesn’t leave a Casper-like white cast on skin and is reef safe.
A Sleek Bottle For Park Drinking
Staff Editor Carlo Mantuano swears by this S’well bottle (in this particular color), in part because he likes how wide the mouth is. And that feature is especially handy for when you want to keep your summer-inspired drink cold with some extra-large ice cubes.
A Fancy Upgrade Picnic Blanket
If you want to upgrade your picnic blanket from a standard gingham print, this luxurious blanket is woven from Merino wool and is handmade by a women’s cooperative in Uruguay. It’s the perfect fancy blanket for wistfully sitting by the fire in a small, oceanside town, or just hanging out in a patch of grass.
This Insulated Seltzer Koozie
Regardless of whether you just hopped onto the hard seltzer train or are already a discerning seltzer connoisseur, you’ll probably want to keep your drink of choice cold. This insulated can cooler gets the job done, and has a slimmer profile to accommodate smaller seltzer cans.
An Easy To Carry Backpack Cooler
If you’re unwilling to lug around a hard sided cooler across a hot, sandy beach, try this ergonomic and comfortable backpack version instead.
The Ultimate Status Cooler
It’s a Yeti cooler. There’s not much else to say about these that hasn’t already been said.
A Collapsible Bowl
No matter how well you Tetris together your snacks for an outdoor picnic, it always feels impossible to pack it all up when it’s time to head home. Luckily, these Stojo bowls collapse down to save space in your bag.
A Tote To Put All This Stuff In
Once you’ve got all your Memorial Day goodies prepped, you’re going to need a bag to carry it all with. This giant market tote from Goodee more than gets that job done, and is handmade by new migrants and refugees in Italy using handwoven fabric from Burkina Faso.
If You’re The Basket Type
This wicker basket is ultra-classic, down to the red gingham lining and snap closure. Plus, it’ll ensure your hangout is the most aesthetic one on Memorial Day.
Cute Serving Plates
The Always Pan from Our Place gets a lot of hype, but we’re also very into their dinner and glassware. These hand-painted ceramic plates are dishwasher, microwave, and oven-safe, and they have a small lip that makes it easier to scoop up last bites of pasta or keep loose sauces or dressing off your floor.
A Pitcher To Complement Your Cocktails
We’ve raved about these gorgeous pitchers before and we’ll say it again: you should get yourself one of Sophie Lou Jacobsen’s Wave Pitchers. The vibrant, undulating handles alone merit serious consideration, and we’re fans of the color combinations as well (especially the green and yellow).
An Eco-Friendly Set of Cocktail Straws
Reusable straws are a great way to make your Memorial Day hangs more sustainable and also tell your guests that you have your life together and care about the sea turtles. Staff Writer Anne Cruz doesn’t need more reusable straws tbut is willing to make an exception to purchase these cocktail straws. They’re shorter so they won’t stick out as much in smaller glasses and look especially cute peeking out of a Moscow Mule mug.
A Fun Pitcher and Glass Set
This Japanese juice pitcher set is a fun way to serve drinks. With an angular glass shape, it’ll throw rainbows of light across the room, and make a centerpiece out of your batched cocktails.
A Blender For Whipping Up Frozen Drinks
Memorial Day is sort of the opening day for the summer season, and nothing says “summer” more than frozen blended drinks. If you want to make your own unlimited supply of frosé and blended margaritas, it’s worth springing for one of the most powerful blenders out there, the Vitamix.
A Fancy Lightweight Towel
A fancy hand towel might not be the first thing you think of when you get ready to host a party, but your guests will thank you for putting out a quick drying hand towel that won’t get musty after everyone washes their hands.
A Fancy Candle To Impress Guests
Fresh but not citrusy, floral but not sickly sweet, Dyptique’s Baies is a staple of the luxury candle market that will immediately impress your houseguests. Made in France and inspired by blackberries, you’ve probably smelled this candle while browsing linens at a pricey boutique while a crisply-dressed salesperson stared at an iPad behind a counter. It’s one of those now-classic scents that instantly sets the mood.
A Budget-Friendly Nice Candle
If you need a more budget-friendly nice candle, we’re also fans of the jam-adjacent Black Fig scent from P.F. Candle Co. Expect fig, evergreen, and baking spice.
An Infinite Source Of Palomas
If you want to make your own delicious Palomas from scratch, you’ll need a few things. For those wanting to replace the drink’s grapefruit soda with seltzer, a SodaStream more than gets the job done. You’ll have an endless supply of perfectly bubbly water, as well as a few heavy-duty glass carafes you carry around your home as you ask any guests if they’d care for still or sparkling.
A Powerful Citrus Juicer
It is our uncontroversial opinion that summer cocktails like Palomas taste better with a spritz of lime juice. This citrus juicer will make that task so much easier.
A Tool For Perfect Twists
Adding a perfect citrus twist to your cocktails is a surefire way to add some zhoosh to your drinks and impress your friends. This $7 vegetable peeler makes that task all the easier. As Senior Staff Writer Bryan Kim explains, a “vegetable peeler makes intentionally shallow cuts - so it’s the perfect tool for the job. All you need to do is press down firmly and pull the blade of the peeler down the side of your citrus. It might take a few tries at first, but once you get the hang of it, voilà. Perfect twists every time.”
A Tasteful Bar Spoon
If you’re making a Negroni or any other cocktail that needs to be stirred, this bar spoon will do the trick. The twisted handle helps you maintain proper stirring technique (i.e., rotating the spoon as you stir), and you might actually wind up breaking your mixing glass if you use a heavy soup spoon. As for the gold plating on this thing, well, that isn’t really necessary. But you could say that about most nice things.
A Non-Alcoholic Option
It’s always a good idea to stock some beverage options for guests that don’t drink. Kin Euphorics has a great fizzy, non-alcoholic cocktail in a can. It’s equal parts sweet and bitter with some strong citrus flavors and 100% of your daily vitamin B6 (in case you need more of that). If you’ve ever had an Aperol Spritz, this is similar except it’s non-alcoholic and slightly more complex.
If You Want to Make Zero Proof Cocktails
If you want to offer zero proof cocktails during your Memorial Day hangout, there are plenty of great non-alcoholic spirits to choose from. If you like mezcal, you’ll enjoy drinking Optimist Botanicals’ Smokey. It’s surprisingly deep, slightly bitter, and like its name implies, has that woodsy, burning smell you associate with the agave-based spirit.
Some Whiskey Balls
Whiskey balls are one of those things that you don’t necessarily need to make a great drink, but they make for some awesome presentation. Senior Staff Writer Bryan Kim prefers these ice molds, which are easy to fill and pop out in one intact piece.