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10 Must-haves for outdoor entertaining

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Everything you need for fabulous cookouts

Summertime means outdoor entertaining, and we found the 10 things you just can't live without when partying with Mother Nature.

Just because you're eating outside doesn't mean it can't be sophisticated. We're not cavewomen, after all. We've got the tips and tricks you need, and we'll share them with you on one condition: we expect an Evite!

1

Lay the foundation — literally

Brown craft paper or butcher paper cut carefully creates a finished look and makes cleanup a breeze!

Lay the foundation

2

Dinner by candlelight

Most great parties will go until after dark, so find interesting candle holders that enclose the flame so it won't blow out, or use inexpensive glass bowls filled with aquarium rocks and a single tea light or votive candle.

Dinner by candlelight

3

Paper or plastic? Neither!

When it comes to plates, skip the paper and plastic. Instead, hit the thrift store. You may not be able to get a matching set, but that's part of the beauty. Choose an eclectic assortment of real ceramic dishes that complement one another. They're usually inexpensive, so if one breaks, it's really no biggie.

Paper or plastic? Neither!

4

Fancy glasses

Those red plastic glasses are unattractive and easy to drop when condensation builds. Instead, opt for stemmed glasses. Nothing makes it feel more like a party than a fancy drink, even if it's just iced tea garnished with a lemon wheel. Look for inexpensive real glass or weighty plastic versions.

Fancy glasses

5

Outdoor wine glass holders

If you don't have enough table space for everyone, wine glass holders are a must. They stake into the ground anywhere, and any stemmed glass can be easily tucked inside the hook on top.

Outdoor wine glass holders

6

Beautiful serving dishes

We're not suggesting you pull out your fine china, but use real dishes instead of ugly, misshapen aluminum pans. Try grabbing some while you're out searching for the aforementioned plates, or pop the extra cash for the quality bake-and-serve disposables.

Beautiful serving dishes

7

Signature cocktails

If you plan to serve drinks at your party, don't fret over the perfect wet bar or making drinks for everyone all evening. Create a signature cocktail or steal one of ours — we won't tell if you won't!

Signature cocktails

8

Ways to keep food safe

To keep cold food cold, fill a bowl with ice and sprinkle it with kosher salt. To keep hot food hot, place the dish in a larger dish and fill the larger dish with boiling water, or buy a warming trivet heated with tea light candles.

Ways to keep food safe

9

Popsicle sticks or lollipops

Use a permanent marker to write on one end of a popsicle stick or make stickers on your printer to put on lollipops, then plunge the unmarked end into food to mark it. Mark burgers as rare, sides or other items as vegetarian, gluten-free and more!

Popsicle sticks or lollipops

10

Beautiful skewers

Shish kabobs are the perfect way to entertain outdoors. The meals are customizable for different tastes and easy to make. But skip the plain bamboo and opt for skewers that have a little personality.

Beautiful skewers

More on entertaining outdoors

Fun and functional outdoor grills
Throw a summer barbecue on a budget
Diet-friendly summer party survival guide

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