7 Stylish Essentials For Labor Day Gatherings

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Labor Day is the one day out of the year federally allocated for relaxing, and we couldn't love it more! Whether you're hosting family for a backyard barbecue, or are planning on keeping it casual with a low- or no-labor Labor Day party, give your holiday weekend plans a little fresh color and flavor with something decorative on the table or that will make kicking back a bit easier (and a whole lot more fun). Here are some of the new pieces we're planning to use to help us and our guests relax in style.


1. Deck Towel 

If you are lucky enough to be near a beach or for picnicking in the grass, these linen towels are a must! Inspired by cloths that Belgian soldiers might have used in the 1930s, they are made with linens sourced around the world. Machine-washable, the towels are 20 times more absorbent, lighter, and don't hold in sand, unlike traditional terry towels than terry towels. We can't wait to get our hands on the Loic (right).


2. Bright Beverage Tub

For chilling beer, water, rose, and sodas while you sit in the sun, nothing beats a durable metal tub like this one from Target. We love the bright turquoise color and the under-$10 pricetag. It's also perfect for holding a whole lot of chips, snacks, candy, and cookies to keep weekend houseguests of all sizes satisfied in between meals.


3. Drink Dispenser 

If you want to serve sangria, fresh lemonade, or Arnold Palmers for a crowd, these will save you a lot of time and cocktail-making effort. From metal to glass, and everything in between, there are so many to choose from. Just fill one (or two) up with your signature cocktail, then let your guest help themselves, leaving you free to have fun (left).


Shade and stripes. There's no classier way to protect your skin when you're on the beach, that's why we'll be packing up this umbrella. Entertaining at home? The days of having one end of your table shaded from the sun's rays, leaving the unlucky few on the other end roasting and baking, are over, thanks to Pottery Barn's giant umbrella that will cover your ten-by-seven food table with ease. (Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn)


A long holiday weekend at the end of summer isn't celebration unless you bring these star- and stripe-bedecked straws. They're fun, perfect for sticking into that milkshake or margarita, and we want to SCREAM summer on this last weekend of summer 2011. And these are just the thing to have to do so. (Photo courtesy of Fishs Eddy)


6. Something Handmade and Delicious

Consistency is part of what makes barbecues great. We know, for the most part, what we are going to get, be it dogs or burgers, and it's something we look forward to everytime there is a barbecue on the calendar. But sometimes it can be nice to shake things up, maybe with an old classic, an artisanal delight, or a local favorite. Instead of chips and salsa, start cocktails with a tin of Bazzini's nuts. Can't resist cheese and crackers? New Englanders will be delighted with crispy Oatcakes topped with creamy Cloumage and a drizzle of local honey or homemade jam, or set out some artisan crackers like these from Wisconsin to pair with hummus. And don't forget hand-crafted pickles to add some jazz and variety to your burger and dog toppings. And, no end of summer is complete without the grand finale — an end-of-summer fruit pie, either made locally or in your own home, served with ice cream or fresh whipped cream (right).


7. Disposable Cotton Napkins and Placemats

These colorful rolls from MYdrap combine the elegance of linen napkins and placemats with the convenience of paper, so they're perfect for summer garden parties and picnics (especially when barbecued chicken, lobster, and watermelon are on the menu). They're made of fine-woven 100% cotton or linen with easy-tear perforated edges and special bonding so they won't fray. While there are a myriad of colors to choose from, gingham prints and pretty red and navy blue colors are sure to add a fun touch for your Labor Day holiday weekend (and not leave you with a load of laundry to do the next day).