Labor Less on Labor Day – A Guide to Throwing an Easy Labor Day Party
Labor Day takes place every year on the first Monday in September. The holiday was first celebrated in 1882, marking a day to cherish the incredible achievements of American workers. At the time the Pullman railroad strike was in full swing, and President Grover Cleveland was faced with anxious railroad executives, protests and riots. Cleveland declared the strike a federal crime and sent 12,000 troops to break it up, resulting in the deputy marshals firing on protesters, and deaths of two men. Cleveland passed the bill to make Labor Day a national holiday shortly after, hoping to reconcile with the American labor force. He was not reelected.
Today Labor Day is recognized more as the unofficial end of summer in the U.S., and is seen as the last chance to have fun with summer activities: swimming, camping, picnics etc. It is a great opportunity to throw a party or cook-out of your own. You may think that the last thing you want to do on Labor Day is break your back hosting a party, but if you get an early start and keep things casual, you can host a Labor Day party that won’t feel like work! Here is a time-table to help you plan and organize:
One Week Out
-Make an invite list and mail invitations out. You can make it very causal and just email or Facebook friends and family.
-Come up with an overall theme and shop for the necessities. Don’t feel trapped into a patriotic theme; a luau or beach-themed party is just as appropriate! You could even have a white party to celebrate your last chance to wear the color before Labor Day (although wearing white after Labor Day is not really considered a faux pas by most anymore). BBQ and picnic foods are a great way to say goodbye to summer. Make things easier on yourself by hosting a potluck, or ask each guest to bring their favorite items to throw on the grill. You can find great ideas for handmade decorations, candles, invitations and more at online vendors like .
Three Days Out
-Clean up the house or yard; wherever people are going to be.
-Inventory your serving dishes and food and grocery shop. If you are hosting a family-friendly event, consider making an ice cream party punch or “mocktails” that guests of all ages can enjoy. Parents of younger children will be grateful if you set up an area where they can play. You can easily organize Labor Day activities by printing off Labor Day coloring sheets or making community helper hats out of paper plates, bowls and crayons.
Two Days Out
-Finish any last minute grocery shopping.
-Let your neighbors know about the party (if they aren’t invited).
-Cook or prepare anything that can be made ahead of time.
The Day Before
-Decorate! Don’t kill yourself by over-doing it or getting caught up in the details; people will be focused on each other and the food.
-Consider the bug situation if you are planning on spending time outside and plan accordingly.
-Finish preparing as much of the food as you can, like prep work: dice, rinse and marinate.
-Check the weather with the National Weather Service.
The Day Of
-Finish any last minute food preparation.
-Put out the food.
In 1898 the head of the American Federation of Labor called Labor Day “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.” Whatever your Labor Day plans, enjoy, recharge and celebrate the hard work you put in all year long.