If you are planning on hosting a Memorial Day celebration, cook-out or pool party, there are many creative ways to do something special for those who are serving our country. Refer to my tips below for a few Memorial Day activities that will honor a soldier and make a lasting impact long after the day has come to an end.
1. Decorate and assemble a care package together. Special handwritten cards or pictures from the children add a loving touch. Added bonus: the U.S. Postal service will supply you with packaging supplies free of charge for military-bound items. You may have to wait several days for your supplies to arrive, so order now through the website or service number and you’ll be able to send all your party souvenirs to the troops. (http://www.give2thetroops.org/)
2. Pass the postcards. Have a variety of patriotic postcards and pens handy; you can even offer the themed pens as party favors. Ask guests to write a short note and the kids to draw a cute picture, but avoid confetti and glitter in the cards. Include a return address if you would like—most service members will write back! Let guests know you’ll add the stamp and mail them the next day. Organizations like AMillionThanks.org allow you to drop off bundles of letters – they mail for you (http://www.amillionthanks.org/send-letter-guidelines-get-started).
3. Books for soldiers. Encourage guests to bring a book (new or used) to the gathering. Box them up and send along to a deserving troop. You can also visit websites like http://booksforsoldiers.com/ where some soldiers request specific titles. Paperback is recommended because it is easier to carry.
4. Decorate patriotic cookies together. Troops love opening up care packages with homemade sweets and notes, and it makes a great activity during any party. Since it may take weeks for your cookie package to arrive overseas, be sure to bake cookies that will travel well, not melt, and still be fresh when they arrive. Avoid chocolate (as it melts) and try to package your cookies by wrapping them individually. Check mailing regulations before sending any perishable goods to ensure that what you are shipping is allowed. No time to bake? Some bakeries even allow you to order cookie baskets online made especially for troops.
5. Invite a military family to join the party. Does a military family attend your church or place of worship? Or, do you work alongside a military spouse or member of the Reserves? Invite a military family to your Memorial Day party. You’ll cultivate new friendships and give the family a well-deserved break!
6. Ask guests to bring old cell phones to the party. Donate them to “Cell Phones for Soldiers.” All the donated phones are sold to a recycling partner. The money received from recycling cell phones goes towards purchasing calling cards and other communication tools for the U.S. military. The organization asks that you mail cell phones only, not batteries, chargers or accessories. The actual phones are not sent, but used to earn cash for calls. (http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/index.php)
Your thoughtfulness this Memorial Day will leave you and your party guests feeling patriotic and grateful!