The Ultimate Summer Entertaining Guide

By Elizabeth Roehrig

Whether you're having your neighbors over for a casual barbecue or you're hosting a big backyard bash, relaxing alfresco is the way to go. You'll use our expert food, drink, and decor ideas all season long.

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Photo by Stephen Danelian

Make Your Patio Pop

Prep your outdoor space for a party with these ideas from interior designer Taniya Nayak, host of HGTV's Destination Design.

1. Create zones. Think about foot traffic as you set up spots for lounging -- a bar area where people can mingle and a designated dining spot. Move indoor furniture outdoors if you need to, but keep pathways clear.

2. Choose a theme. Ethnic ones (think Greek, Moroccan, Mexican) lend themselves to selecting a unified menu, decor, and music, so you don't wind up all over the map.

3. Light it up. Place plenty of solar- or battery-powered lights on stairs and around seating areas for safety. Then wind strands of white holiday lights along porch banisters, railings, and columns to create soft ambience.

4. Stay warm. If it gets cool at night where you live, think about setting up a firepit or fire bowl. Leave cozy blankets out for guests to snuggle up in.

5. Dress up furniture. Cover an old picnic table with a length of budget-friendly burlap instead of a ready-made tablecloth; you can "hem" it with fusible tape. And give plain folding chairs a quick makeover: Slip white pillowcases over the backs and tie with ribbon.

Download our FREE 18-page Summer Entertaining Guide!

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