July is just around the corner, and I am so excited about that, because July is my favorite month of the year. OK, so maybe I’m a little biased because my birthday falls in the middle of the month—but that’s not the only reason I love July! I think the main reason that I love July is that it represents the best parts of summer—the slow, lazy days that seem to last forever, before the dog days of August hit and it’s time to start thinking about school again. When I was a kid, I spent most of July visiting my grandparents in Alabama. July seemed like the month in which time stood still: every day was a delightful cycle of sleep late, play in the sprinkler, ride in the back of my grandfather’s pickup truck, eat fresh veggies for dinner from the farmer’s market or backyard garden, make homemade peach ice cream for dessert, and repeat.
That’s why I loved summer as a child; but I think my mother loved summer more than any other time of year because 1) I was at my grandparents’ for at least a few weeks and 2) my dad would make dinner on the grill every single night—literally. Instead of getting tired of eating grilled food as a result, it’s become my favorite way to cook. And lucky me: we just moved into a new-to-us house that has a built-in grill outside as well as a separate built-in gas grill in the kitchen! (You don’t see those much anymore!) So I can grill to my heart’s content no matter what the weather is outside.
Of course, grilling is the most fun when you’re grilling for a crowd! Not only is summertime the perfect time for cookouts and barbeques with family and friends, but July just happens to be National Grilling Month! So get ready to be the backyard hostess with the mostess with our tips, recipes, and must-have products in this week’s blog post.
Set the Scene
I’ll admit that part of the appeal of a cookout is that my guests will be outside more often than not, and therefore won’t be scrutinizing my housekeeping skills! But just because the party’s outside doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put a little effort into setting a cheerful scene for the festivities.
Barbecues practically beg for gingham tablecloths. For a more casual affair, oilcloth on rectangular tables is the perfect choice. For more formal events (like a wedding rehearsal dinner), class it up a notch with fabric tablecloths and round tables.
Offer guests some shade with strategically placed outdoor umbrellas, like this cheerful red one from Tuesday Morning:
I love these hanging vases and candle holders made from Mason jars. They’re a great way to add a festive touch to your umbrellas without taking up a lot of space!
Easy Does It
Cookouts are supposed to be laid back and easy going. Here are a few tips to make things easier for you and your guests while still showing a little style!
Another great use for the ubiquitous Mason jar: one-stop utensil and napkin holders! Guests can even use the jars for beverages.
I love these DIY utensil packets made from little brown bags. They’re the perfect size for holding disposable utensils, napkins, and straws. Go the extra mile by adding salt and pepper packets to the bags!
Instead of regular old disposable wipes, put together bundles of moistened bath cloths with a lemon wedge. So classy!
Most beverage displays take up a lot of space, but not this awesome DIY stand! With a galvanized bucket at the bottom filled with ice and drinks and hanging pails of napkins, cups, and other necessities, guests can help themselves to cold drinks and you can save precious table space for the good stuff—the food!
Fun in the Sun
When I was a kid, it seemed like it took forever for the charcoal grill to get hot enough to start cooking the hamburgers! Keep the kiddos entertained while they wait with a summery game of Memory. It’s easy to make with the blogger’s free printable and is cleverly themed with one of summer’s best treats, the popsicle!
For smaller gatherings, put together a party favor pail for younger guests, with bubbles, flip flops, sidewalk chalk, water guns, and the like.
Tuesday Morning has a great selection of outdoor activities that are fun for the whole family, like this beanbag toss game.
I’ve added tons of great grilling tips, recipes, décor ideas, and more on our Backyard BBQ Pinterest board, so be sure to check them out as you get ready for your next cookout! And we want to hear from you: if you’ve got a surefire recipe or grilling tip, please share it with us in the comments or on our Facebook page.