Nothing screams summertime more than entertaining family and friends with an outdoor barbecue. Some of my favorite perks of backyard entertaining are its simplicity and low-maintenance appeal. Unlike a traditional gathering, you can execute a perfect afternoon of fun with minimal organizing. There are no “official” rules to planning a perfect barbecue, another feature of its appeal, but, we have five simple ways you can take your average outdoor afternoon from ordinary to outstanding!
1. The Table-Setting. The first step in preparing an outstanding outdoor barbecue is to set-up the venue, aka your backyard. As many of you know, California is currently in a horrible drought. Don’t let the lack of greenery in your backyard shun you from hosting a wonderful occasion. With the “golden” grass in the background, I find that by sprucing up your table-setting is a nice way to bring some greenery and color to the surface. Summertime is all about embracing color, so, start with some colorful linens! Then, create some simple yet beautiful bouquets from gathering flowers you have around the yard. Or, you can always go to your local farmers market and get an inexpensive bundle.
2. The Food. Of course, your family and friends are attending your wonderful barbecue because they love you and want to spend time together; but let’s be real, they are here to eat! Put together a few seasonal dishes – like your famous guacamole or sweet potato fries – get out the barbecue and grill up some burgers. Don’t feel pressured to make everything from scratch. Think burgers, sliced watermelon, a big green salad, and for dessert fresh berries and whipped cream!
3. The Hardware. Although you are eating outdoors, forgo flimsy paper plates and store bought plastic-ware. The look and feel of real plates and utensils will immediately convey a more stylish setting. If you are serving a more mature crowd, don’t hesitate using a classic white dish set, which will go with everything. Or, if you need a more family friendly option, there are a ton of stylish and durable plastic sets that you can use over and over again. Also, be sure to serve everything on large platters, family style. I love this salad bowl set, chip and dip server and this rectangular serving platter!
Serving family-style will not only provide less clean up for you (yay!), but it allows each guest to customize their plate and more importantly, less time you have to spend serving and more time you can spend enjoying your company. JCPenney has a great selection of chic outdoor dinner plates and platters to choose from and at a such an affordable price.
4. The Drinks. Just as important as the food you serve, beverages are a key component to hosting a fabulous barbecue. Having options or asking your guests to BYOB is perfect for a large group because you never know what people prefer. But, keeping your guests hydrated while mingling outdoors under the hot sun should be your number one priority. I absolutely love to infuse water with refreshing and nutritious ingredients. Serving your water in a large beverage dispenser and infusing it with strawberries, oranges, mint, cucumbers or berries, adds an effortless touch guests will rave about! How cute is this beverage dispenser (pictured above) with the chalkboard sign?! The bottom galvanized metal base even pairs as an ice bucket. Love it!
5. The Attire. Outdoor barbecue style is all about comfort and being effortless. Since you will be in the sun socializing and eating, you don’t want to wear anything restricting. You want to be comfortable but still bring a sense of class to the occasion. Opt for wearing a casual, yet chic romper or flowy maxi dress. Hone in on your body type and what is most comfortable for you. You will not only look the part, but you will feel great too! Who says you have to compromise your comfort for style anyway? This romper pictured above is from JCPenney’s Bisou Bisou line, which has a great selection of chic and comfortable options with quality fabrics at a great price!
What’s your favorite thing about summer? Tell me in the comments section for a chance to win a $100 JCPenney gift card. (And don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact you when you win!)
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