Summer has officially kicked off and the outdoor entertaining season is upon us. Gardens, decks, patios, pools and the beach are our new favorite gathering spots, and whether we’re hosting a Fourth of July celebration, birthday party, barbecue, or a picnic, there’s something undeniably fun about playing the role of hostess.
To inspire your outdoor entertaining this summer, we put together these festive outdoor entertaining ideas to help keep your gathering fresh, cool and stylish.
Ready to throw the soiree of the season? Read on!
Tips for Hosting a Summer BBQ
1. Simplify Set-Up
Sincerely, Marie Design
For a casual get-together, such as an outdoor barbecue, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for guests to serve themselves. We suggest you set up two zones: one zone for dining and one zone for tables with food and drinks. Place the buffet where you want the action to be and stack plates at either end to prevent traffic jams, move silverware to the drink station. Minimize buffet line time, when you include only the hot food, move condiments and a few side dishes to the dining tables.
You’ll want to simplify decor as well, consider these ideas:
- Use natural elements, such as succulents, driftwood, and potted herbs as table decor
- Sprinkle in a bit of sparkle by stringing up some simple holiday lights under the awning, along a fence, and in the trees
- Put out a few picnic blankets on the lawn to supplement seating
- Add tea lights to mason jars for extra ambient lighting after sunset
Make your own condiments – Homemade condiments are a surefire way to elevate any menu and BBQ sauces are as easy as they come! Whip up a base sauce by using a combination of ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, then customize a couple versions from there. Add honey for a sweeter slant, hot sauce for more spice, and so on. Be sure to label all your delicious creations.
Serve a signature cocktail – Along with an offering of beer and wine, offer guests a signature cocktail. This will allow you to keep your hands-free by mixing it up ahead of time and either having it already ready-to-go in glasses, or in a carafe for guests to serve themselves. Is there anything more refreshing than this Watermelon Mojito?
Update your BBQ offerings – Burgers and hot dogs are typical fare at a backyard barbecue. Why not change things up a bit and go with a more unusual option such as BBQ pizza. Pizza dough is actually quite tasty when cooked on the grill. Offer up BBQ pork or chicken as a topping. You can also include assorted cheeses and even different sauces. Everyone, from pizza traditionalists to foodies will enjoy this tasty slant, and create your own pizza is fun to boot!
Get festive with food vessels and glassware – Use vintage rocks glasses to hold small finger foods like sliced veggies, pickles, and olives. Consider an ice bucket for chips or even a tray as a way to add layers to your serving buffet.
3. Set the Stage with Music
Want to guarantee your party guests to be in a great mood all evening long? Set the stage with music. Certain songs just scream, “SUMMER!” Make everyone smile and even elicit a little wiggle out of them when your set list offers an eclectic mix – from soul, classic rock, and upbeat pop classics to delightfully corny yacht rock (think Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins). You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the perfect playlist.
4. Offer Activities
(C) Carla Ten Eyck Photography
Lawn games, anyone? Not all of your guests may know each other, and even if they do there’s something so bonding about being on someone’s badminton team. Having a group activity will help everyone to get to know one another in a fun way! Chose classic lawn games such as croquet, horseshoes, corn hole, bocce ball, or badminton.
5. Dessert is a MUST!
Real Simple Good
Sure the drinks, music, and games are important but you simply cannot forget about dessert! This party element is sure to be everyone’s favorite. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either. An ice cream bar is fun, grilled fruit kabobs, no-bake cheesecake and, of course, anything chocolate (chocolate bars and fruit is a wonderful dessert treat!). Elevate any dessert offering by serving on beautiful platters.
We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Be sure to share your favorite tips when you tag us in your post on Instagram @cottageandbungalow.