Every September, Americans celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of the month. And it’s almost time this year! A federal holiday recognizing and honoring American workers, Labor Day celebrates all the invaluable social and economic contributions laborers have made to the country’s success. The three-day holiday weekend includes boat parades, barbecues, carnivals, fireworks, and other festivities nationwide. If you found this article looking for unique and exciting Labor Day party ideas for your event, you’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we’re exploring some of our favorite Labor Day party ideas. From festive foods to employee appreciation ideas, you’ll discover decor tips, recipes, entertainment ideas, and more. Whether organizing a Labor Day event for your company or celebrating with friends and family at your home, this list has everything you’ll need to host an unforgettable September celebration.
Labor Day party ideas your friends, family, and coworkers will love
To kick off our list, let’s explore some incredible locations to host this year’s Labor Day celebration.
Ideas for your Labor Day party location
Because there are so many ways to celebrate Labor Day, you can host your holiday party just about anywhere. Check out some of our favorite seasonal party spots below.
1. Your backyard
One of the best places to host a Labor Day party is right in your own backyard. Invite friends, family, and coworkers to join you for a backyard cookout or patio party. Host a potluck-style party, where each guest brings a dish, or place a catering order with a tasty local joint.
2. The beach
If you want a laid-back Labor Day, host your party on the beach. Spend the day swimming and playing volleyball before watching the sunset. After the sun goes down, turn the party up and light a bonfire by the water. Play music and sing around the flames. Roast marshmallows and reconnect with friends as you swap stories and joke.
Don’t live close to the ocean? That’s okay! Host your Labor Day party on the banks of a lake or river instead. Organize a lakeside cookout or a riverbank catfish fry. Pull out the fishing poles, kayaks, and tubes to soak in the best of summer before it’s gone.
4. Public park
Public parks are fantastic locations for a low-cost, family-friendly Labor Day party. With a playground for the kids, grills, shelters, and restrooms, a good park has everything you need! Find a community park that catches your eye, and check with your local Parks Department to confirm park event rules, regulations, and permit requirements. Reserve a picnic shelter or gazebo to help shield guests from the sun if available, and consider renting an event tent if not.
5. Your neighborhood
Organize a block party for your community. You can host it in a neighbor’s yard, a parking lot, or a blocked street. Find a large enough location to hold everyone, confirm local ordinances, and obtain any necessary permits. Coordinate food, setup, and a communal restroom plan with a team of resident volunteers.
Celebrate the end of summer in style with a Labor Day pool party. Whether you have access to a private or public pool, gather there with loved ones for one more dip before school, stress, and the holiday season takes over again. Decorate the deck with inflatable palm trees and tropical leis. Forget about your phone, and enjoy a day by the pool.
If you want to throw a Labor Day party guests will never forget, think about hosting it on a boat. From Manhattan to San Francisco, floating holiday parties are widespread across the country. Purchase tickets to a pre-scheduled event or build your own. Turn the family pontoon into a party boat for a small group of friends, or rent a luxury yacht for a Labor Day sunset cruise; the choice is yours. If you’re on the east coast, check out the “Pier Pressure” Yacht Party in Norfolk, Virginia.
Themes for your Labor Day party
Although Labor Day is a party theme all its own, choosing a sub-theme can help speed up the party planning process. Choosing a theme, event idea, or design style for your party can guide you through unfamiliar territory, like how to decorate or what food to serve.
8. End of Summer Bash
Celebrate the last three-day weekend of the season by throwing an “End of Summer” party for Labor Day. Spend the day with friends and family, enjoying your favorite summertime activities. Set up hammocks or a large canopy in your yard, break out the lawn games, and crank up the music.
9. Labor Day White-Out
Have you ever wondered where the adage, “Don’t wear white after Labor Day” comes from? According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the phrase originated in the early 1900s, when upper-class, “well-to-do” citizens commonly wore breezy, lightweight clothing, like white linen suits. If you wore white after Labor Day, folks would assume you had enough money to enjoy lavish late-summer vacations (which the working class did not). This Labor Day, host a White-Out Party and encourage guests to dress in all-white attire to celebrate their successes and send off the summer in style.
10. Movie Night
Turn your yard into a hip outdoor movie lounge. Grab a projector, set up an inflatable screen, and host a Labor Day movie night. Create a cozy place for guests to unwind and stretch out, covered with oversized pillows, plush throws, bean bags, and small tables. If you really want to impress partygoers, go above and beyond classic cinema snacks, like popcorn and candy; serve a signature movie cocktail (or mocktail) related to your flick (e.g., White Russians for The Big Lebowski).
Mix things up this Labor Day; host a brunch party. Invite guests to gather around 10:00 am for mimosas, quiche Lorraine, eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, and other staple brunch dishes. Partygoers won’t feel pressured to get going too early and have plenty of time to attend other events in the afternoon. However, brunch can be a doozy, so work smarter, not harder. Set up a decadent buffet, or serve guests family style.
Throw a chic, modern nautical-themed Labor Day party to say goodbye to summer in style. Turn oars, rope, and life preservers into contemporary party decor by creating thematic centerpieces and hanging decorations. Light walkways with antique ship lanterns and serve Dark n’ Stormy cocktails to set the mood.
13. New England clambake
If you want to spend sunup to sundown on the beach, host a clambake to celebrate Labor Day. Considered a classic New England tradition, our northeast neighbors inherited the cooking method from Native Americans. The all-day event kicks off with a collective gathering process. Partygoers look for stones, driftwood, and seaweed along the beach. Next, dig a pit in the sand and fill it with the gathered rocks.
Use the driftwood to start a fire in the pit, allowing it to burn until the rocks are heated. Once the stones are hot enough to steam at the touch of seawater, a layer of seaweed is placed over them. Clams, lobsters, corn, mussels, sausage, and other staple New England foods are arranged over the seaweed, creating alternating layers that cook the food with briny steam.
Labor Day party decorations
Decorations set the stage for any holiday party, including Labor Day. Create a convivial atmosphere and set the tone for a fun, frivolous day with thematic decor.
14. Stars & stripes
Embrace the American roots of the Labor Day holiday and throw a patriotic party to celebrate. Save money on event decor by repurposing some of your Fourth of July decorations. Place stars and stripes at the center of your design theme to create spirited centerpieces, table runners, chair decorations, and signage. And it’s better for the environment, too!
Pinwheels are popular decorations for national holidays like Independence Day and Labor Day. A symbol of childhood and innocence, pinwheels convey vitality and optimism. They represent an age when things were simple, and we only wanted to explore, play, and enjoy life. Incorporate vibrant pinwheels into flower arrangements and centerpieces to brighten your decor, or choose red, white, and blue pinwheels for a more patriotic feel.
16. Decorative lanterns
Place LED lights in low-cost lanterns to create cheerful Labor Day decor that looks more expensive than it is. With a few craft supplies, like ribbon, artificial flowers, and hot glue, you can DIY holiday-inspired tabletop decorations or hanging lanterns in one afternoon.
17. Flag-draped wreath
Create an elegant, eye-catching Labor Day wreath using just a wreath base and an American flag. Drape the flag around a grapevine wreath and tie or glue it to hold it in place. Keep the design simple, or add decorative embellishments like flowers (natural or artificial), greenery, ribbon, or burlap.
18. Hanging banners
Wish partygoers “Happy Labor Day” with an attractive banner. Purchase a pre-made banner to save time, or make your own. Find a free online template you like and print it from home, or craft one with materials you already have. Follow this simple tutorial from The Country Chic Cottage to make a patriotic banner in minutes.
19. Celebratory buttons
Commemorate the occasion with Labor Day buttons or pins. Gift guest pin-back button favors with pro-labor images, inspirational pro-labor quotes, or holiday-themed jokes, like “Make jobs not war” or “Enjoy weekends? Thank a union.”
Labor Day dishes and menu ideas
Whether hosting an informal get-together at home or planning an upscale private event offsite, you can’t go wrong with classic Labor Day dishes.
20. Hamburgers and hotdogs
You can’t go wrong serving hamburgers and hotdogs—the cookout classics. Keep it simple with cheeseburgers and ballpark franks, or elevate traditional American fare by kicking things up a notch. Serve guests grass-fed Angus beef, beer brats, and black bean burgers, or set up a build-your-own (BYO) burger bar.
Barbecuing is a classic American pastime, with summer being a favored season for outdoor cooking. Fire up the smoker and treat event attendees to succulent pulled pork or flavorful smoked chicken—roasted low and slow.
A classic cookout dish and a staple of summer gatherings, coleslaw is a crowd-pleasing favorite that’s easy to make. Traditional coleslaw recipes typically call for red cabbage, carrots, apple cider vinegar, mayo, and a few other ingredients. However, with so many unique coleslaw recipes now available online, it’s easy to find one that fits your flavor profile and dietary lifestyle, like this no-mayo recipe from Well Plated by Erin.
23. Shish kabobs
Skewers and kabobs are Labor Day party pleasers. Easy to assemble and store in advance, kabobs cook quickly on the grill, making them an optimal (and convenient) snack for sizable outdoor events. Save money using seasonal ingredients, like recently foraged mushrooms and freshly harvested vegetables.
Choose components that fit your event’s style and theme, such as red meat, seafood, poultry, veggies, fruit, or even cheese. For more delicious super skewer ideas, check out these recipes from Greatist.
24. BYO Sundae bar
We’re big fans of BYO food bars. Not only are they easy for party planners to organize, but build-your-own-style serving ensures that each party guest eats something they enjoy. Set up a BYO sundae bar to surprise guests with a cool and creamy Labor Day treat. Include a variety of ice cream flavors and an array of toppings, like candies, sprinkles, cookies, and fresh fruit. Create unique flavor combinations with unexpected ingredients like bacon bits or french fries.
25. Grilled veggies
If you’re looking for Labor Day party ideas that won’t break the bank, we’ve got your back. Serving fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables can help budget-conscious party planners save money on food. Peppers, mushrooms, corn on the cob, onions, and summer squash taste fantastic when fresh from the grill. Marinade the vegetables after grilling, as they soak up more flavor when hot.
Festive Labor Day cocktails
Invite Labor Day party guests to relax and unwind with a revitalizing summer cocktail. Serve a signature beverage or build a bar menu with a few options.
A spritz is a welcome wine-based summer cocktail from the northern regions of Italy. Made with Prosecco, soda water, and a bitter liqueur (e.g., Cynar or Campari), this bubbly beverage is refreshing and low-alcohol. Typically served as an aperitif, a spritz stimulates your appetite.
27. Watermelon Crush
Does any fruit say “summer” more than watermelon? If you’re a fan of the fruit, you’ll love this Watermelon Crush recipe. This vibrant and vivacious cocktail is made with vodka, coconut water, Hibiscus syrup, lime juice, and fresh watermelon. Muddle 3-4 pieces of watermelon before combining the ingredients in a shaker and straining it into a glass.
28. Summer Sangria
Sangria is one of our favorite summer beverages because it’s easy to prepare in large batches ahead of time. Whip up a few pitchers of this Summer Sangria from What the Fork, and treat your Labor Day party guests to a fabulously fizzy and fruity sangria. Calling for watermelon, pineapple, Moscato wine, brandy, and lemon-lime soda, this sweet sangria comes together quickly.
29. Strawberry Basil Bourbon Lemonade
Break out the bourbon this Labor Day, and impress party guests with this hard lemonade recipe from Esquire. Fresh pureed strawberries form the base of this boozy lemonade, which also features lemon juice, basil leaves, bourbon, bitters, and a bit of sugar. It’s fruity yet herbal—sweet but acidic—making it an excellent choice for an end-of-summer celebration.
30. Frozen mocktails
Daiquiris and margaritas are great for Labor Day parties and other outdoor summer events. Remove the alcohol to provide refreshing treats for guests of all ages or alcohol-free events.
Entertaining and engaging Labor Day activities
Don’t skimp on Labor Day entertainment. Get the fun going and keep guest energy high with games, competitions, and creative activities.
31. Live music
Turn up the temperature at your Labor Day party with live music. Hire a live band to play the event, or reach out to friends who play to ask if they’d like to join the fun. If you don’t have the budget to pay performers, that’s no problem. Encourage guests to bring their favorite instrument for an old-school, no-pressure jam session! Hosts that want to avoid the hassle of managing live music can hire a DJ or put together a party playlist.
32. Lawn games
Keep guests laughing all Labor Day long with classic outdoor lawn games, like horseshoes, bocce ball, or cornhole. Light the spark of friendly competition with oversized competitions, including giant Jenga, lawn bowling, or inflatable dominoes.
Host your Labor Day party where local fireworks displays will be visible, or prepare your own party pyrotechnics. Stock up on safe, kid-friendly fireworks, like sparklers, poppers, and snappers. If you’re traveling for the long weekend, review the firework restrictions for your destination, as regulations vary from location to location.
34. Awards ceremony
Labor Day is a fantastic opportunity for employers to show recognition and gratitude for individual and team accomplishments, so take the time to celebrate major achievements and milestones. Host an employee awards ceremony to show your appreciation for all the work done by partygoers this year.
Bestow the same appreciation at a private Labor Day party by thanking friends and family for all their hard work. Create a mixture of silly and sincere awards, such as:
- Best Mechanic
- Cleanest Dishes
- Most Organized
- Most Thoughtful
- Most Generous
Turn award announcements into an event, or gift them to guests privately. Try to include everyone so no one feels left out.
Labor Day facts and frequently asked questions
If you’re interested in learning more about the origins of Labor Day or how it’s celebrated, you’ll uncover more information about the holiday’s roots and traditions below.
- When did Labor Day start?
In 1984, President Grover Cleveland signed into law a congressional act enshrining the first Monday in September, “Labor Day.” A federal holiday for workers, it acknowledges the sacrifices made by activists and labor unions and the poor treatment workers had been subjected to at the time. Although the first Labor Day took place in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, we continue to observe the official holiday on the first Monday and the weekend leading up to it.
- Are there Labor Day party traditions?
Parades, parties, and picnics are classic American Labor Day traditions. When the holiday was initially proposed, the government suggested that workers observe and celebrate the day with a street parade. Many unions organize local parades to celebrate laborers while towns host impressive fireworks displays. Companies may host employee appreciation events, like a company picnic or barbecue.
- How do companies celebrate Labor Day?
While many businesses close on Labor Day and give all employees the day off, other businesses stay open. Hotels, hospitals, and other 24-hour operations must remain open; other companies may choose not to close. Open locations usually throw a party, bestow employee recognition, or find another way to celebrate their workers.
Now you have lots of Labor Day party ideas to choose from!
Now that you’re equipped with a list of Labor Day party ideas, you’re ready to start planning. Pick a location, brainstorm a theme, and start gathering supplies. Next, you’ll learn how to create a customized event planning checklist that keeps you organized.