Before you bring on the tears and mourn the last days of sunshine, it’s time for one final shindig! Since Labor Day pays tribute to the American worker, no one should have to labor on this holiday, and that includes you, Ms./Mr. party host. Need some help? Here are 5 stress-free party-planning tips.

Plan a time-conscious menu

Labor Day should be a day of rest and relaxation for everyone, including the host. If you must make everything, plan a stress-free, do-ahead menu that doesn't need multiple trips to the grocery store(s!). Skip anything that requires last minute work and/or a laundry list of ingredients. Burgers and dogs are always easy mains but simple one-dish-feeds-all meals work great too. Think: Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tacos, Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef Sandwiches, or Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs.

Make it even easier:
Outsource the munchies! Grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market and Wegmans all have an excellent deli section with healthful party platters, sides, and desserts. Your favorite local restaurant (Dixie Bones Real Pit Barbecue perhaps?) would be happy to oblige or check out catering outfits like Spilled Milk for a fun, stress-free spread.

What are some of your stress-free party tips?

—Pat Tanumihardja

Photos courtesy of Betty Crocker via, cinsy via Creative Commons, mamaloco via Creative Commons, via, and Yung-Yi Hsieh Nindorf