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Celebrate the End of Summer with Some Upper Valley Style

Aug 21, 2017 08:40PM ● By Linda Ditch
Many people find the approaching end of summer to be somewhat sad. No more swimming, boating, and cookouts. It’s time to put away the outdoor gear and get out the leaf rakes and snow shovels. However, others (myself included) say to summer, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!”

Whether you’re saying a sad "so long" to summer or welcoming fall, now is a great time for one last cookout to celebrate the transition. Labor Day Weekend gives you the perfect excuse to hang out with friends and family before the rush of back-to-school and work begins.

For the Patio

Start with decorating your deck or patio. Picture a rustic, casual evening outdoors with plenty of hay bales scattered about, some covered with soft (and washable) throw blankets. Color choices could be a combination of summer and fall, with bright yellows and reds mixed with muted greens, oranges, and browns. (Check out Tractor Supply or Longacres Nursery Center for the hay, or ask your favorite farmer at the farmers’ market if you can borrow a few bales!) 

One of my favorite things to do for a party is to set up a television outside so sports fans (of which I’m one) can watch the game. Just be sure to station the TV in the shade for optimum viewing.

For the table

For the table, a burlap runner provides a rustic look and a neutral backdrop for other decorations. In the center, position metal vases filled with sunflowers alongside bowls of shiny red apples. Galvanized mini buckets can hold utensils, while washtubs set off to the side can store iced beverages. Stores like Michaels, Dollar Tree, and Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts will have what you need, though a visit to a collectable shop or flea market—such as the Vermont Antique Mall in Quechee or the Railroad Station Flea Market in Fairlee—might provide some unique and fun decorations.

For the Menu

For the menu, the grill takes center stage, of course, for one last encore. Stick with tradition by serving up hot dogs and hamburgers, and set up a condiment bar so people can choose their own toppings. You can hold a fun contest for the most creative hamburger and hot dog and offer prizes. You can also print and frame condiment combinations, such as how to make a Chicago dog, to set on the bar or write the directions on a chalkboard.

For the Evening

As the sun goes down and the temperatures cool, light up a campfire. When the fire gets going, it’s time for s’mores. Set up a bar with all the traditional fixings of milk chocolate bars, graham crackers, and marshmallows, as well as some nontraditional selections, such as peanut butter cups, sliced strawberries, and raspberry jam. And be sure to have plenty of sticks or long forks ready for toasting marshmallows.

One final gathering of friends and family is a lovely way to end the summer. It will also add to summer memories to keep us warm as we settle into the colder months ahead.

Hot dog and hamburger bar necessities include:

  • Regular and poppy-seed hot dog buns
  • Regular and onion hamburger buns
  • Ketchup
  • Mustards, yellow and brown
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salsa
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Dill pickle slices
  • Dill pickle spears
  • Diced onion
  • Sliced purple onion
  • Sautéed onions
  • Banana pepper slices
  • Jalapeno pepper slices
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tomato slices
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Chili
  • Coleslaw
  • Crispy bacon, slices and crumbles
  • Nacho cheese
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Sliced American, cheddar, and pepper-jack cheeses
  • Grated cheddar cheese

Necessities for the s’mores bar include:

  • Graham crackers in regular, cinnamon, and chocolate flavors
  • Chocolate-covered graham cracker cookie squares
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate bars in milk, dark, mint, and cookies ’n cream flavors
  • Caramel chocolate bars
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate hazelnut spread
  • Raspberry jam
  • Sticks or long forks for toasting marshmallows

What are your plans for Labor Day weekend?

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