While for so many, Memorial Day weekend is the official kick–off for the “summer season,” it is a very serious holiday, and we feel like it’s a great opportunity to let family and friends, and kids know what it’s all about.
Memorial Day is a time to honor members of the armed forces who have given their lives in service to our country. It also means an extra day to spend time with family—but how? Try one of these family friendly and kid-approved ways to enjoy your time. Create your own tradition this holiday! Plus, we’ve passed along some of our favorite little recipes to enjoy.
Fly the red, white and blue. If you don’t have an American flag, help the kids make their own flags from construction paper and staple them onto straws for flying. Teach older children how to fly and fold the flag. Whatever you do, display a flag and show your support.
Visit a national cemetery. Consider taking the children to visit the memorials of fallen heroes. Bring flowers to lay or attend a service. While it may seem grim, the reality is that even young children know people pass. Helping them to understand the ideology of serving and bravely protecting our country may help to give meaning to why we honor them.
Send a care package to a soldier. Honor those living heroes who risk their lives to protect our country by sending a card or care package to them. www.anysoldier.com is a website that helps citizens connect with soldiers who are currently serving.
Visit an historic site. Memorial Day traces its roots back to the Civil War. Today, hundreds of historic sites dating back to this significant era have been preserved and some of them host a formal Memorial Day event. It’s the perfect way to honor fallen soldiers, as well as help make history come alive for the kids. The National Parks Service has a list of Civil War-related sites on its website, stretching from one coast to the other. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, so give your local historical site some extra attention.
Prepare a family picnic. Of course, it’s fun to dine alfresco and toss around a Frisbee outside. Picnic prep can be an activity in and of itself. Give kids age-appropriate jobs to pull everything together. Older kids can cut up fruit and gather drinks, while younger ones can fold up the blanket and pack the basket. Everyone can participate in making a take-away dish.
Make a poppy craft. As the old poem goes, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.” Poppies are the official flower of Memorial Day, and the distinctive red bloom with the black center makes for a fitting DIY craft. If you’re not crafty enough to do these free-hand, you can find online tutorials that create poppies out of paper plates (skill level: very easy), coffee filters (skill level: easy), cupcake liners (skill level: medium) or glassline paper and floral wire (skill level: advanced).
Try These Delicious Dishes!
Red, White and Blue Parfaits
Makes 6 servings
You can substitute raspberry or strawberry low-fat yogurt for the vanilla ice cream in these easy-to-make fruit parfaits…perfect for your patriotic party.
- 1 8-ounce carton vanilla ice cream or low-fat yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 8ounce container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
- 3 cups fresh raspberries and/or cut-up fresh strawberries
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
In a large bowl, stir together ice cream or yogurt and almond/or vanilla extract. Fold in whipped topping. To serve, alternate layers of the berries with layers of the yogurt mixture, and place in six 12-ounce glasses or dessert dishes.
Watermelon Feta Salad
Watermelon + cucumbers are one of the most refreshing combos of all time. Throw in some mint, red onion, and feta and toss it all with a very simple vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a mean summer salad.
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 c. cubed seedless watermelon
1 c. medium cucumber, chopped
1 c. crumbled feta
1/2 c. red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c. coarsely chopped mint
Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt.
- In a large serving bowl, combine watermelon, cucumber, feta, red onion, and mint. Pour over dressing, toss to combine.
- Garnish with more mint and flaky sea salt.
Italian Pasta Salad
Don’t show up to a summer hangout without the pasta salad.
FOR THE PASTA
fusilli pasta, cooked according to package instructions
8 oz. mozzarella balls, halved
4 oz. salami, quartered
2 cup baby spinach
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced
FOR THE DRESSING
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, toss together pasta, mozzarella, salami, spinach, tomatoes, artichokes, and olives.
- To make the dressing, add olive oil, vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning, parsley, and red pepper flakes to a jar and secure with a lid then shake to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour in the dressing and serve.
Recipe Sources: http://www.momtastic.com & www.bhg.com