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17 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day With Your Family

Many Americans view Memorial Day only as an extra day off work, or the sun-soaked start of summer. But as its name suggests, Memorial Day is first and foremost a chance to remember those who have given their lives for the daily freedoms Americans enjoy.

Whether or not you’ve lost a loved one serving our country, this holiday is special for all Americans. If you’re wondering what to do on Memorial Day, keep reading for some important facts as well as ideas on how to celebrate this patriotic holiday.

Contents:

When is Memorial Day 2022?

when is memorial weekend

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In 1971, Memorial Day became an official day off work for federal employees, and since then it’s always been celebrated on the last Monday in May. This year, Memorial Day falls on May 30, 2022.

What is Memorial Day?

memorial day crafts for kids

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Memorial Day is one of the United States’ public holidays, commemorating those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. It’s also become the unofficial start to summer, with many people marking the day by watching parades, having BBQs or family gatherings, going camping, and visiting cemeteries or the graves of loved ones.

When it first started, Americans celebrated Memorial Day as a way to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War, but it stretched to World War I and subsequent wars as the years passed.

Keep in mind that because this holiday is a way to remember those who have died, it’s not appropriate to say ‘Happy Memorial Day’.

To know more about the history and the meaning of this holiday read Memorial Day 2022: the History And the Reasons to Celebrate

Memorial Day 2022 Celebration Ideas

Looking for something to mark the memorial weekend? Check out these memorable activities every age can enjoy.

Watch a Parade

memorial day 2022

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Parades are fun events for the whole family, and they’re the perfect opportunity to explain to kids why we celebrate this holiday. As the saying goes, ‘Freedom isn’t free’. Participating in or watching a parade will show respect to those who have given their lives so we can live in freedom.

Check your local area for any holiday parades, then grab some American flags and join the crowds in this patriotic memorial to those deceased.

Visit a Cemetery

If your loved one has died while serving in the military, this can be a particularly difficult day. Visiting cemeteries is a memorable way to mark the holiday and honor those who have lost their lives.

Even if your loved one is not buried nearby, you can celebrate their life by placing flags or flowers on the graves of servicemen and women. If the family of the deceased is far away, your care and attention might mean more than you’ll ever realize.

Visit the White House–Online

Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside the White House? You can stop wondering: The White House Historical Association has developed a virtual tour. Because Memorial Day presents the chance to talk to kids about America’s history, this tour would be an engaging, visual experience, and a good place to start.

Watch the National Memorial Day Concert

Every year on Sunday before Memorial Day, some of the biggest names in music, along with the top musicians and singers in the U.S military, perform a concert to remember those who have lost their lives in service to our country. You can watch it here, Sunday, May 29th, at 8 p.m. ET.

Past performers include Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Mickey Guyton and Sara Bareilles, as well as the National Symphony Orchestra.

Write Letters/Cards to U.S. Military

things to do memorial day weekend

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Although Memorial Day is meant to commemorate those who have passed, one way to honor their memory is to support and thank those in the active, reserve and veteran military. A Million Thanks, an organization committed to supporting the military and their families, has helped the public send millions of letters and cards to servicemen and women.

What better way to encourage and thank our military for the gift of freedom? If you’d like to write a letter to someone on active or reserve duty, or to veterans, check out A Million Thanks’ website and their letter-writing program.

Take Part in the National Moment of Remembrance

Every Memorial Day, Americans across the country are encouraged to observe the National Moment of Remembrance. This is a chance to take a minute at 3 p.m. local time to remember those who have died serving our country.

If you’d like you and your family to participate, set your phone alarm for 3 p.m. on May 30th, 2022. It’s a great example for your kids to honor the deceased in this way.

Memorial Day Outdoor Fun

what is memorial day

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The weather’s getting warmer, and many Americans get an extra day tacked on to their weekend. Because Memorial Day marks the start of summer, why not take fun outside? Here are some classic Memorial Day activities you can do with your friends and family in the great outdoors–assuming the weather cooperates.

Have a BBQ

Although this day commemorates those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, it doesn’t have to be an entirely somber affair. If the sun’s out, invite family and friends over for a BBQ. Check out these pure-summer grilling recipes. It’s ok if meat’s not your thing; there are some great veggie recipes in there, too!

Whether you have space to grill outside or you want to keep the party simple with summery salads and dips, Memorial Day is a great time to enjoy the warmer weather with the ones you love.

Go Camping

Depending on where you live, camping is a fun way to usher at the beginning of summer. A weekend away in nature can offer a much-needed change of scene.

Plus, if your profession gives you the Monday off, you won’t have to cram all the unpacking and the upcoming week’s prep into the Sunday night.

Play Outdoor Games

Even if you decide to stay home for the weekend, you can kick the fun up a notch with some friendly competition. Grab some game sets from your local Walmart, things like cornhole, bocce, lawn bowling, or croquet. The kids might like hopscotch, ring toss, or giant versions of Jenga and Connect 4.

If you’ve got a big group, make it into a tournament, with prizes for the winners. ‘The Memorial Day Games’ could even become a family tradition for years to come.

Sidewalk Chalk Creations

Let passersby enjoy your chalk creations! Help the kids draw a giant American flag on a sidewalk or driveway, letting them color it in. Older kids can practice their writing with things like USA, FREEDOM, and THANK YOU. Even the youngest members of the family can help make red, white and blue ‘fireworks’.

Memorial Day Crafts for Kids

when is memorial day 2022

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Doing a craft together is a great way to bond with your kids. They may also ask you what the craft is for, giving you another chance to explain why this holiday is important for Americans. Check out these YouTube videos of fun, patriotic Memorial Day crafts.

American Flag


This is a clever way to tie in the American flag with the theme of togetherness, love, and remembrance. After painting the flag on paper, you’ll cut it out into the shape of two hands, with a heart in between.

You will need: paper, scissors, a pencil, a paintbrush, and red, white and blue paint.

Pinwheel


Because pinwheels can spin, they come with an extra dose of fun! These colorful pinwheels will be a hit with the kids, especially because the kids can blow into a straw to make paint ‘fireworks’. Take your finished work to a Memorial Day parade and let the breeze do the work.

You will need: paper, a straw, red and blue paint, water, a blue pencil, a few push pins, a hole punch, and scissors.

Patriotic Stars


These little patriotic stars are cute and super easy to make. Hang them in your windows, on your mailbox, or on your front door to capture the spirit of Memorial Day.

You will need: red, white and blue paint, paintbrushes, glue gun, and popsicle sticks

Tie-Dye Flag T-shirt


This one’s great for slightly older kids, and the end result is stunning! Wear your creation on Memorial Day for a summery, patriotic look.

You will need: a white t-shirt, a ruler, a washable marker, kite string, rubber bands, and red and blue dye. The shirt will need to dry for 24 hours.

Create a Word Search

If you have any wordsmiths in your family, creating a word search might be right up their alley. Use words fitting with the Memorial Day theme, such as flag, honor, freedom, courage, veteran, remembrance, patriotic. 

Use a site like Puzzlemaker to create your own, like this one below:

Photo source: printablecreative.com

Memorial Day Coloring Pages

If your children love coloring, try these Memorial Day Coloring Pages. Perfect for your little artists, these festive coloring pages will keep the smallest members of your family occupied while you’re doing crafts with older kids, trying not to burn the grilled chicken, or waiting on the parade to start.

Memorial Day Movies for Your Family

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Memorial Day weather isn’t always BBQ- or camping-friendly, right? If you’re stuck inside during the holiday or you want to wrap up a long day with a family movie night, consider one of these movies. With themes of war, heroism, and patriotism, these films remind us of the kind of courage it takes to sacrifice for your country–both America and others.

Battle of Britain (rated G, on YouTube movies)

what to do on memorial day weekend

Battle of Britain

A fictional account highlighting what happened during the Battle of Britain–a World War II battle where the UK fought off the Nazis.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (rated G, on Disney+)

outdoor memorial ideas

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

In this movie-musical also set during the Battle of Britain, a young witch uses her powers to help protect England from the Nazi invasion.

Dear John (rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime)

what to do for memorial day weekend

Dear John

Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried play a young soldier and a college student who fall for each other just before the soldier’s Afghanistan deployment, after which they continue to write to each other.

Honor Flight (rated PG, on iTunes)

what to do for memorial day

Honor Flight

This documentary follows a community that sends its WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (rated PG, on Netflix)

things to do for memorial day weekend

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

In this animated movie, a little boy travels with a dog through time to visit important leaders from history, including America’s first president.

Max (rated PG, on YouTube movies)


The service dog of a soldier killed in Afghanistan returns home to the U.S., where his former owner’s family adopts him. Through the dog, the family begins to learn more about their lost loved one.

National Treasure (rated PG, on Disney+)

National Treasure

Nicolas Cage plays a historian in search of hidden treasure, possibly from back when the U.S. began.

We hope these ideas kickstart your Memorial Day weekend, perhaps inspiring traditions for years to come. And whatever you do this holiday, remember that your play, rest, celebrations, and freedom to gather with loved ones is only yours because of the sacrifice and courage of others.

Picture on the front page: PEPPERSMINT/Shutterstock.com

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