Be honest! When you think of a backyard summer barbecue, what immediately comes to mind? Stiff vinyl tablecloths, sticky fingers, the oh-so-classy clink of plastic serving dishes? If those visuals leave a bit to be desired, we couldn’t agree more and have decided to make a pact to elevate this summer meal tradition once and for all!
To bring our visions for a sophisticated seasonal tablescape to life, we partnered with registered dietitian and nutritionist, Carlene Thomas, to help develop a healthy menu that’s based around barbecue basics but with our signature flair for fancy added in for good measure. Scroll on for a peek into the final tablescape, plus soak up our top 10 entertaining tips to elevate your own backyard fête!
1. Upgrade your standard barbecue menu.
Instead of typical backyard barbecue fare (think: grilled chicken wings, potato salad, etc.), refine your menu! Guests will be super impressed by the sophisticated spread, but these recipes really take the same amount of effort. Serve your meat on skewers (it’s much more civilized!) rather than on the bone. Opt for a wedge salad instead of a classic chopped version. We’ll be sharing all of the recipes you see here in this post tomorrow.
2. Create a tablescape.
Let’s be honest, most guests aren’t expecting a thoughtfully designed table with a cohesive color palette when they get invited over for a barbecue. Give your table setting some thought and intention! Add fresh flowers, glowing candles and linens to set the scene.
3. Use real dishes.
4. Serve a signature cocktail.
You can still fill a tub with chilled beer and wine bottles, but having a fun, seasonal cocktail is a great way to elevate your evening. We love to serve drinks in a glass dispenser for larger crowds, or a simple pitcher for a more intimate party. Jazzed up ice cubes made with edible flowers, herbs and fruit are always a welcome addition!
5. Use real linens.
There’s no doubt that paper napkins are easy, but not only are they wasteful, they don’t exactly elevate the mood of a dinner party. Instead opt for real linens, like these beautiful blush-hued ones from Rough Linen. Trust us, your guests will notice the difference!
6. Assign seats for your guests.
Make your evening a bit more formal by assigning seats for your meal! Tip: separate spouses to encourage people to mix and mingle and make new friends.
7. Have bug spray and sunscreen on hand.
A simple thought of offering your guests sunscreen and bug spray becomes a little more special when you go the extra mile to chill the bottles on ice for warm-weather get-togethers!
8. Light your yard.
Hang twinkle lights and sprinkle votives down the length of your table. Don’t forget to keep citronella candles burning, too!
9. Cover your food.
There’s nothing worse than flies and other bugs swarming your food, and to be honest, it’s bound to happen when you’re outside. Stock up on food tents to protect your food. We like this see-through version from Amazon that still allows your guests to ‘feast their eyes’ on what you’re serving.
10. Entertain the kids.
If your dinner is kid-friendly, be sure to think about your younger guests. Set up an area with outside games, age-appropriate toys and crafts to keep them occupied and allow their parents the opportunity to enjoy themselves, too!