By Tracey Minkin
August 25, 2015

One of our favorite beach weekends -- Labor Day -- is on approach, and we want it to be your best ever, meaning the playtime is maximized, and the prep and running-around time is minimized. Here are five easy hacks for a perfect late-summer weekend at the beach: with friends, family, or just yourself!


Hack #1: Easy food for gangs. Which is to say, yes to hamburgers, but it doesn't have to be all about the grill on this weekend. Make life easier and every bit as delicious by organizing menus around fabulous picnic fare, like this poppy seed chicken salad.


Hack #2: Have an app do all the work for you. Who doesn't hate sweating those last-minute runs to the grocery store (particularly the island grocery store, where there may be 16 boutique wines but no milk!). Add to that the fact that these weekends often involve numerous folks offering to shop and bring. Then I latched on to Cozi, a brilliant app that allows my family (whether literally my kids or the family group on approach) to share a joint calendar, to-do lists, and grocery lists. It's the perfect party planning tool for a gang of any size, and I'm addicted.


Hack #3: Cocktails for all! Yes, box wine. Yes, cases of local brew. But yes to cocktails that make Labor Day the party it promises, with a minimum of fuss. Does this point to sangria? Obviously. But it also points to other excellent cocktails that can work for a crowd. And can be prepped in advance. Cheers to that.


Hack #4: Bring a hammock. Because now you've got a VIP lounge, no matter where you are. I love Yellow Leaf Hammocks and how gorgeously they tie up in any spot, from your porch to the rugged Montauk shoreline, here. Just plan time for naps. Lots of Labor Day weekend naps.

Or, this:


Hack #5: Pitch a tent. The cousin to the hammock, a smart beach (or anywhere) tent keeps the sun off your skin and makes for a visible place to keep the gang focused. (It also shades the cocktail cart and snack array.) What moves the sensible to sensational is how fun beach tents have become. I'm crazy about Hollie and Harrie's Sombrilla beach tents, which can be adjusted to cover up entirely or let some Vitamin D in on one side. The bright fabrics make me want to pitch it in the middle of my living room and sleep under it.