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Happy Labor Day

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Host a potluck barbecue. Barbecues are one of the traditional ways to celebrate a Labor Day weekend, but many people avoid them because of the expense. You can do away with much of the cost while keeping much of the fun by hosting a potluck barbecue.

Call up your friends, and have them bring a side dish and/or a bottle of wine and beer. Provide the meat (or portobello mushroom caps for your vegetarian friends) yourself. Fire up the grill, put on some music and enjoy a wonderful warm evening with friends.

Organize home improvement projects. If you’re a homeowner, you probably have a home improvement project or two that you’ve been meaning to take care of, but there’s always something better to do. Use this weekend to take care of it.

That doesn’t mean you have to spend the weekend alone without having fun. Get a few friends together, and share the projects. Do a project at one friend’s house on Saturday, another at a different house on Sunday and another on Monday. Have each friend host dinner for everyone at night.

This way, you’ll get a big home improvement project done at your home, spend three days with friends doing something both fun and productive, eat three (or more) meals with friends and the only cost is your own home improvement materials and one large meal.

Visit your nearest state and national parks. My family often camps on Labor Day weekend, which is another great way to spend a three-day weekend without breaking the bank. Spending a day at your nearest national or state park can be inexpensive. Just pack a picnic meal and head to the park to enjoy the natural beauty, take a hike or two, pitch a tent and build a campfire.

Catch a minor league baseball game. Labor Day weekend is a great time to catch a minor league baseball game. Minor league tickets are inexpensive, and the teams often go the extra mile to entertain fans.

The timing is particularly great as you’ll get a chance to see a bunch of major league prospects right before their September call-up to the major leagues. If you’re a real baseball fan, this can be an extra special treat.

Have an outdoor-oriented staycation. Instead of going on an expensive trip, plan a three-day staycation. Treat the three days as a vacation, but instead of staying at a hotel, you stay at home. The goal is to visit interesting places near you.

Take a look at your state’s tourism guide to see what places are within a few hours of where you live, and pick out a few to visit each day. Pack up a picnic meal or two, and head out each day to see what’s near you. This is a great time to check out outdoor attractions, as some may close after Labor Day.

This can work well with other tips on this list, as they can be a part of a long weekend staycation. For example, attend a minor league baseball game on Saturday, and hit a national park on Sunday.

Lose yourself in a new place. One of my favorite things to do is go to a place I’m unfamiliar with – having just a bit of cash in my pocket – and just wander around to see what I discover. I end up eating at interesting places, visiting strange shops and educational museums, and I often find something memorable.

 If you have any other ideas or have some interesting family traditions, leave a comment on the Joy 1071 Facebook page.