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Memorial Day has always been considered the unofficial starting line for summer. Retailers have big seasonal sales, the kids have completed another school year and, since it’s a federal holiday, many grownups have the whole day off. This year, as we slowly overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, the last Monday in May sure feels like it could—or should—be the kickoff to our best summer ever!

Big Fun on No Budget

Memorial Day celebrations are typically backyard affairs shared with family or friends and that makes them less of a fancy to-do than other gatherings. It can still get spendy when you’re not looking out for the budget, so let’s look at some ways to blow off the worst year of our lifetimes without blowing out our savings, too.

Kid Stuff

Keep the kids—yours as well as the neighbors’—entertained with some projects outside the house. Sidewalk chalk is cheap, and kids of all ages love to put their creative marks somewhere they can show them off. So, send them out to draw American flags, stars, maps, flowers, “thank you” notes, hearts, and more to honor the sacrifices of our service members and their families.

Grownup Stuff

While the kids are busy creating, the adults can spend time in the house or the yard enjoying ice cream with red, white, and blue sprinkles; salsa with red, white, and blue tortilla chips; or anything that can be pitched-in and shared. Memorial Day is very much a day for rest and relaxation. It’s been a long year of avoiding people, so let’s take advantage of spending time together again and not bother competing for host(ess) with the most(ess).

For the Whole Family

Because Memorial Day is a holiday created to honor the military personnel who died in service of the U.S. Armed Forces, a lot of places will host parades and ceremonies in remembrance of their local heroes. Check the local newspaper, online listings, or even call and ask your local library about information on what’s going on near you. If you have kids, there may even be activities during the event that are designed just for their participation.

Virtual activities let you join public celebrations almost anywhere especially if you’re still iffy about going back out with people. You can stream the National Veterans Memorial and Museum’s Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony for free starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET). Also, check out the list of virtual Memorial Day events provided by The American Legion.

All of these events are free, and they can keep everyone engaged while educating them about why Memorial Day is important, too.