When you need something done right, go to the experts. Nate Marcus of PartyRVA asked around for advice for those of us who haven’t begun planning a Memorial Day hang. News flash: IT IS THIS WEEKEND!
A backyard party created by Posh Parties RVA
Nate Marcus is the founder of i.e.* Startup Competition winner PartyRVA, and we asked him–being a guy who specializes in knowing everything about local party vendors–to rescue your last-minute Memorial Day plans. He tapped his experts for advice, and here it is. (PartyRVA, in case you weren’t aware, connects you to many of these vendors, who offer you discounts, so that everyone can party cheaply. Party on, Wayne.)
Since I started my business, I have met planners with incredible talent for crafting parties that are out-of-the-box and memorable.
There may not be time for them to wave their magic wand and create a party for you this weekend, but PartyRVA’s party planners offer RVANews readers the next best thing: advice for ways to host a get-together.
In honor of Memorial Day, which falls on May 25th this weekend, here are six last-minute ways to make the holiday truly memorable.
HOST AN ICE CREAM SOCIAL
Nothing says All-American like ice cream on Memorial Day.
For Connie McGowen and Renee Johnson, the planners behind Richmond’s planning company Precise Events and Photography, this simple idea is as memorable as it is easy.
Renee suggests that hosts “provide a variety of toppings, sauces, flavors, and cones and allow guests to make their favorite sweet treat.”
For food, it’s best to keep the theme easy and suited to all types of picky eaters by adding a hot dog bar or a build-your-own burger station.
CREATE EASY BACKYARD PARTY DÉCOR
Shalonda Collier, an event planner at Posh Parties RVA, offers tips for creating the perfect backyard BBQ for Memorial Day.
“Of course, go red, white & blue when choosing décor,” she recommends. “To add flair to your tables, use 14 inch strips of fabric to make table runners in fun patterns like red and white chevron, blue stripes, or polka dots.”
Collier adds, “Set the mood with lighting. You can easily enhance the atmosphere with tiki torches and lanterns. String lights can be strung from tree to tree or wrapped around your patio. One of my favorite backyard lighting ides is to use mason jars as candle holders.”
She also recommends fresh cut flowers such as daises or sunflowers, which make great centerpieces when placed in mason jars. “Use Washi tape to add festive flair to the mason jar,” she adds.
ORGANIZE BACKYARD ACTIVITIES
Why compete with the neighbors? McGowen and Johnson offer an answer: turn a backyard party into an impromptu block party by calling the neighbors and sectioning off a party of the road. This is perfect for cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets.
Patricia Clement of JumpStarz, an RVA jump-rope party company, comes out to teach people double-dutch and jump-rope skills and games. It’s a fun way to get everyone moving, and adults love it as much as kids do.
Backyard activities can include building a fire pit for s’mores, and enjoying easy-to-organize games such as cornhole, ring toss, horseshoes or Jenga.
As the sun sets, you and your neighbors can pitch in to host an outdoor backyard movie night. Fun Flicks of Richmond, Virginia rents out large backyard inflatable movie screens for five to 100 guests that start at $299. Their screens range from 8 to 40 feet.
If showing a movie, pull out the popcorn and heat bananas on the grill with cinnamon and sugar for a piping hot treat.
Tee Clarkson, the founder of Virginia Fishing Adventures, has been encouraging kids to “just go outside and play” for more than 11 years with eco-friendly kid fishing trips in and around Richmond.
Clarkson says, “I would suggest renting a canoe or kayak and getting out on the Shenandoah, James, or Rappahannock Rivers. The water levels look great and the smallmouth fishing should be heating up.”
For families looking for kid-friendly fishing parties, Clarkson provides boats, lifejackets, bait, poles and helpful instruction. Families can also get 30 minutes added to the fishing time for a longer party.
Precise Planning and Photography recommends pitching a tent in your backyard for a night under the stars. Camping tent rental in RVA is hard to find, but family-style tents can be easily bought at Walmart for $100-$250. Students with VCU ID’s can rent tents from the Outing Rental Center at 130 S. Linden Street.
HAVE A MOMENT OF SILENCE
Taya Jarman, another RVA-based party planner, owner of Celebration Connections, and author of a three-year column on party planning for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, offers ways to remind everyone of the spirit of the long weekend.
“While Memorial Day typically signals the beginning of summer,” she advises, “This is a chance to remember lost loved ones and those who fought for our freedom. Honor those who touched your life or who gave it all, with a moment of silence at your festivities. Also, show reverence by lighting patriotic candles as centerpiece and decor accents.”
As an act of solidarity, Jarman recommends “planting a tree or forget-me-not flowers to keep the memories alive forever.”
TRANSFORM YOUR HOUSE INTO A THEME PARK
There are plenty of other ways to transform your house into a theme park for a day–for instance, a Disney movie with princesses from Princess Parties RVA, a TV kids network with costumed characters from With Love Events, a petting zoo from Teeny Tiny Farm, or a spa in your home with Spa-Tacular Parties.
An easy way to have fun on a hot day is to add water. Grab those super soakers and enjoy an adrenalin-rushing water gun fight. By setting up some water slides, you’ll inexpensively turn your backyard into a water park.
HAVE AN ADVENTURE WITH YOUR FAMILY
Looking for something even more unique this Memorial Day weekend?
McGowen and Johnson offer an activity that can be thrown together in a day: a family group scavenger hunt. Family members or guests can explore the city together with destination-based clues. They explain: “When they find the item or complete the fun task, they must take a photo as a group. Each item varies in points and the team with the most points wins!”
The activity gives the host a chance to prepare the food, so that the event can culminate with a traditional backyard barbecue. Alternatively, the party can end at a local barbecue restaurant.
Ravenchase Adventures presents the Pittman Cup for the 12th year in Richmond. A mix of National Treasure and The Amazing Race, Ravenchase awards its “Stanley Cup of Brilliance” topped by a garden gnome to the team that solves all of the clues over a two-day event that takes participants from RVA to Greensboro to Ashville, North Carolina.
Josh Czarda, the founder of Ravenchase and Escape Room RVA, Richmond’s new attraction opening this month, predicts: “I think this is the future of entertainment–physical and immersive.”
Czarda recommends the activity to families with older kids, aged 14 and up. Admission starts at $60. The price includes admission to all locations and to a party each night with drinks.
Whatever you end up doing this Memorial Day Weekend, know that there is plenty of time to make it memorable!