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Best foods for outdoor parties

Deanna Sletten has been writing for nearly 20 years for magazines and websites. She owns the blog Write Moms that shares information about freelance writing. Deanna is also the author of two fiction novels.

Delicious summer party foods

A summer outdoor party is all about sun, friends and simple, delicious food. Because it is hot outside, you'll want to keep foods light and easy as well as frosty and cool. Here are a few ideas on what to serve at your next summer outdoor party.

outdoor bbq dinner

Easy main courses

Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks are typical summer fare, but you don't have to limit yourself to the basics. Instead, try grilling easy kabobs made of shrimp, chicken, steak, veggies and fruit. Prepare the ingredients ahead of time and let guests create their own kabobs. Have sauces on hand like barbeque, teriyaki and honey mustard to spread over kabobs before grilling. Almost any meat, veggie or fruit works well, so be sure to cut up plenty of choices.

Chilled fruit bowl

Finger foods are perfect for outdoor parties, and nothing is better than chilled fruit. Mix together cut-up fruit like watermelon, honeydew melon, strawberries, grapes and anything else you can think of. Before the party, chill a glass serving bowl in the freezer, then place the fruit in the bowl when it is ready. To keep it chilled, set the bowl in a pan of ice cubes. You can have a bowl of whipped topping on the side for anyone who wants to make things sweeter.

Healthy vegetable tray

A vegetable tray is a must at a summer outdoor party. Cut up as many of summer's best fresh veggies as you can and offer dipping choices for guests to enjoy. Standard fare is carrots, celery, green and red peppers, cauliflower and broccoli, but you can jazz up your tray with other delicious treats like sugar snap peas, radishes and cucumbers. These same veggies can be used on grilled kabobs for twice the mileage.

Serve chilled drinks

A frosty drink beats a regular one any day. Have your blender ready to crush ice for adult drinks or to make fruity smoothies for the kids. Blend fresh fruit, yogurt, milk or fruit juice and ice and you'll have an icy, delicious treat. Don't forget to make pitchers of iced tea and lemonade, too.

Cold pasta salads

Pasta salad is easy to make ahead of time, and when served in a chilled dish it is a delightful addition to any outdoor party fare. Make a traditional pasta dish with Italian dressing over spiral pasta noodles, spices, peppers and olives or try a creamier sauce and add cold chicken to the dish. If you have time, make two or three different choices for your guests.

Easy, frosty desserts

Who doesn't enjoy a delicious frozen treat on a hot summer day? Pack your freezer with several types of frozen desserts, like Drumsticks, fruit bars or good, old-fashioned ice cream. Pass out treats for a delicious, frosty end to a delightful outdoor party.

More outdoor party tips

How to host the ultimate summer patio party
Frosty place setting ideas for summer parties

Creative ways to keep things cool outdoors

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