Easy Food & Drink Ideas for Your Labor Day Gathering

Photo credit: completelydelicious.com

Who doesn’t love a national holiday?  It’s a great excuse to hang out with friends and family and just relax.  Sounds great, unless you are the one throwing the party or having to bring a dish.  That sense of relaxation can quickly be replaced with stress. We want to help you make your party easy, so you can relax and enjoy your guests and the day.


Everyone likes a good sandwich at a picnic. It is easy to eat and avoids the neat for utensils.  Our favorite is a  DIY Hamburger & Sausage Bar.  Prep all the meat in advance and cut up tomatoes, onions, lettuce and all your favorite condiments and buns. If you want to get fancy you can add avocados, pickled onions and more.  Enlist someone that will be at the party to be the BBQ Master, and bam! You got your meat!

Photo credit: Dan Gold

Photo credit: Dan Gold


You really cannot go wrong with salads, but the trick is to find recipes that can make it through a warm day without spoiling.  Here are a few ideas that will win everyone over.

Potato Salad - This recipe is a variation on the traditional mayo based potato salad and it will not disappoint.  

Boil 6 gold potatoes until tender and cool.  Dice potatoes in large chunks and set aside. Chop ½ red onion and ⅓ cup parsley separately and toss on top of cooled potatoes. Make a vinaigrette with ½ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of dijon mustard. Shake well. Pour vinaigrette onto the potatoes and toss all ingredients delicately to not break the potatoes.  Be sure to taste before serving as potatoes often need additional salt. 

Variation: Add pre-cook, crumbled  bacon and toss well.

Kidney Bean Salad - Simple, tasty and quick to make.

Rinse can of kidney beans and place in your serving bowl. Chop ¼ cup parsley and ⅓ cup red onions separately.  Make a vinaigrette with ⅓ cup red wine vinegar, ½ cup olive oil, salt and pepper - shake well. Toss all the ingredients. Refrigerate before serving. 

Variation: Add frozen corn, peppers, avocados and diced tomatoes to this dish to make it more colorful and substantive. 

Quick tip - if you decide to make the potato and bean salads, consolidate the prep work.  For example: chop all the onions at one time; chop all the parsley at one time, make a bigger batch of vinaigrette.

Photo credit: jessicagavin.comPhoto credit: jessicagavin.com

Broccoli Salad - Colorful, healthy and you can mix it up any way you like.  

Chop 6 cups broccoli into small pieces and place in a colander.  Pour boiling water over it to quickly soften them and set aside. In another bowl add 1 chopped bell pepper, orange or red, 1 cup red grapes cut in half, ¼ cup cheddar cheese cut into small cubes and ⅓ cup toasted cashews and set aside while you make the Lemon Tahini dressing. Mix the following in a blender until creamy:  1/4cup tahini, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup white wine vinegar, 2 tbls olive oil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1 tsp honey. Once complete, mix the broccoli in the dressing and coat well. Before serving mix all the remaining ingredients together with the broccoli. Refrigerate and serve. (recipe courtesy of Sunkissed Kitchen)


There are so many great store available pies, cakes and more these days, you can just buy your way into relaxation, but if you want to DIY, below are a few simple and delicious options.

Fruit Platter - No one can resist a fruit platter on a hot day.  Make it simple and delicious.  

Cut a watermelon in easy to handle slices and spread it in an array on a serving tray.  Wash some strawberries and blueberries and sprinkle it on top of the watermelon. Add any additional fruits.  Variation: Add a bowl of melted chocolate for guests to drizzle over their fruit.

Photo credit: onceuponachef
Photo credit: onceuponachef

Summer Berry Trifle - This is one of those dishes that is sure to impress and looks like you spent hours laboring, but is simple and delicious!

Get a trifle bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl add 1 quart strawberries, hulled and cut in ¼ slices, 1 pint raspberries and 1 pint blueberries. Heat ¾ cup seedless raspberry jam in a large bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute until hot and liquidy.  Add heated jam to the berries and toss to coat and set aside. In a large bowl whip 1 ½ cups cold heavy whipping cream untl stiff peaks form and set aside. In another large bowl beat 16oz cream cheese (softened at room temperature) with 1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract, then beat in ⅓ of the whipped cream.  Using a large spatula, fold in the rest of the whipped cream until well combined.

Grab your trifle dish, and cover the bottom with a layer of ladyfingers or white cake.  Follow with ⅓ of the berry jam mixture (including ⅓ of the juices), then ⅓ of the cream. Alternate, ending with the cream cheese mixture. But on the top layer, leave a 1” border around the edge showing the fruit beneath.  Garnish with reserved whole berries and a fresh mint spring. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight before serving(recipe courtesy of Once Upon a Chef)

PhotoCredit: Robert Baker
PhotoCredit: Robert Baker

If you go on Pinterest, the enticing drink concoction ideas out there can get us all excited, but the reality is that there are a ton of wonderful drinks that are store bought these days.  We recommend, getting a couple of fun big ice buckets, filling them with ice and having a mix of libations:

Beer - There are so many varieties, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Get a variety of IPAs, Lagers Porters, Stouts, Wheat beers. There will surely be something exciting for the beer drinker.

Wine - Get a variety of Reds, Whites and Roses to please our wine drinker guests.  

Mixed Drinks -  Keeping it simple, get some canned cocktails. There are a variety of brands and flavors out there that go perfect in that big ice bucket.

Non Alcoholic Drinks - Be sure to get a variety of N/A drinks from water to sparkling flavored beverages to keep everyone well hydrated.



Hope these recipes help make your party prep easier.  Now all you have to do is get that outfit ready.  Don't worry, because we have you covered with our guide on what to wear to look fashionable and feel comfortable at your Labor Day gatheringWhatever you do have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!




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