Getting ready for a fantastic summer!

We know everyone is a different type of summer party host and like to put their personal flair on the summer gathering. It is always so fun to plan out recipes, drinks, and décor that will provide the perfect ambiance for the shindig. After all, the summer season should really be about enjoying great people, good food, (weather gods permitting) plenty of sunshine, and the starry night sky.

If you are thinking about gathering your own friends and family for some grilling and sipping, here are the recipes, drinks, and DIYs we’ve tried out on our own family picnics. Prep and planning always make the day more enjoyable for you and your guests.

1. Engage your guests.

Summer picnics are pretty casual, so we recommend sending out a short and sweet email invitation to all your friends, enticing them with the promise of grilled meats and cold drinks, and asking them to bring side dishes or dessert. There’s no shame in asking for help—in our experience, most people like to contribute what they can, even if it’s just a bag of chips and a six-pack.

2. Pick easy, classic recipes—with a fresh twist.

At barbecues, it is important to enjoy yourself. We feel it is imperative to consciously limit your shopping list to five essential recipes that are summer classics, but each has a unique twist—either in flavor or presentation—so they taste like they took a lot of effort. Here are two of our favorites:

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter:
Who doesn’t love grilled corn on the cob? We’ll be kicking it up a notch with this delicious, lime zest, butter and cumin.

Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Oil:
These are basically Caprese salads on a stick. Need we say more? These are always a favorite!

3. Pick Your Perfect Drinks.

A refreshing drink of iced tea or beer and barbeque go hand-in-hand, but a signature cocktail, too. June wine is a great option traditional drink for a summer party. Checkout a “Norma Jean” 2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce cynar, 3/4 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, 6-7 mint leaves, mint sprig to garnish

4. Don’t forget the music.

There is no doubt that some songs are the very essence of summer. As long as the music makes you smile and dance, it should do the trick. Remember, you know who will be at your party, and you know their music tastes.

5. Keep your set-up simple.

It’s a summer cookout, so keep it simple. We suggest using minimal string lights and mini globe lights strung around your patio table umbrella. Don’t forget to put out a few picnic blankets on the lawn to supplement the seating, and bring out some tealights in mason jars after sunset. Done and done.

Enjoy your summer and make sure to have fun outdoors! We hope our easy tips for throwing a laid-back summer picnic. Do you have any favorite decoration tips of your own? Share your wisdom in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!