Summertime Outdoor Entertaining

By Marcia Blake

For most everyone Fourth of July weekend is the mid-summer celebration, it usually involves an outdoor barbeque, a great looking table, fabulous summer dishes, cool drinks and your favorite guests to revitalize the warmer time of the year. Whether you wish to transform a backyard barbeque into a stylish, yet relaxed event, or a conventional picnic into an elegant dinner, all you require are some fresh and fabulous eye-catching and entertaining ideas to have a good time.


When entertaining outdoors, be sure to choose a theme, color scheme, food, seating and décor that fit the setting. One theme that I like is a classy Garden Party, which can be, achieved alfresco style. Use colors and textures to create interest on the table. A tablecloth and coordinating napkins made with Sunbrellaâ fabric will complement the style that you are trying to achieve. The choices are endless, from textures, prints, solids and jacquards, you can select the perfect fabric.

Use a piece of slate or a terra cotta tile as a trivet or tray.  I recommend utilizing plants from the garden to add decorative accents to the tabletop. Choose some of your favorite flowers and join them in a bird nest, which come in a variety of different sizes in your local craft store to add a unique touch to your summer table.  Or take small containers such as mason jars, fill the bottom with sliced lemons or limes add Daffodils, Gerber Daisies or Tulips, then wrap the center of the jar with a piece of burlap for that natural feel and tie a ribbon around the middle. For a more formal setting use different size glass hurricanes fill them with sand and place a candle in the center.

Have fun with the dishes and glassware either select colors originating from nature and the environment like bamboo plates or punch the tabletop up with a variety of vivid colors and shapes to create an eclectic setting.  To put an elegant twist on this garden party, fill the table with your best china and stemware, then scatter votives around the table to create ambient lighting when the sun sets.

Consider serving marinated London Broil served with horseradish cream sauce, au jus, Island Chicken with Fruit Salsa, Fresh Corn Grilled in the Husk with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Butter for a perfect Garden Party.


Another theme for the ideal summers get together is a chic, yet casual Backyard Barbeque.  Grilling is a quintessential element of summer; add a new spin on the backyard barbeque adventure to make a casual gathering an event to remember.  One of my favorite things to prepare is pizza al fresco.  You can collect all of the ingredients ahead of time, and then your guests can join in the fun assembling the pizza. Encourage them to sprinkle fresh cut herbs as pizza toppings.


Some terrific centerpieces for this creative gill fare are small terra cotta pots with fresh herbs lined up down the center of your table. Set the table Tuscan Style for an authentic Italian evening, with small bottles of olive oil at each place setting. Start the Backyard Barbeque off with a grilled Bruschetta appetizer, cool down the party with traditional Limóncello cocktail and serve a healthy Italian salad with fresh ingredients to accompany the pizza.

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The grill will be the focal point of this gathering, yet its important not to forget comfortable and inviting seating in addition to your dining table.  Large curved and modular luxuriously cushioned sofas are wonderful for large parties, club chairs around a fire pit create a casual cozy space, and double chaise lounges are unrivaled for a romantic interlude away from the crowd.

One more theme for summertime outdoor entertaining is easy going Beach Picnic in your backyard. To create a beachside bash at your home select beach artifacts such as shells, starfish, white coral and sand for serving and decoration. Adopt a nautical color scheme of navy blue, white, sea blue, crimson and yellow, choose Sunbrellaâ fabric Parade Nautical to make a tablecloth add napkins in solid coordinates.


Use clear glass plates and glassware on the tabletop along with flickering candles. The menu could contain grilled shrimp or clam appetizer, blackened salmon and a nice summer salad with market fresh produce. Hang lanterns from trees with battery operated votives to illuminate the party as the sun goes down.  Play some Beach Boys music on your outdoor speakers as your friends mix and mingle with tropical drinks in hand. Sprinkle sand on the patio, and light up a few Tiki torches and you are all set to entertain this summer in style.


The key to summertime outdoor entertaining is to plan in advance so that you can enjoy your Garden Party, Backyard Barbeque or Beach Picnic along with your guests. Take time to relax, unwind, in your outdoor furniture before, during and after the party to feel renewed, refreshed and entertained! Enjoy….


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