Memorial Day is the unofficial (yet somewhat official) start to summer in our house, and we may or may not start the summer count down around Christmas. It’s kind of a big deal around these parts. And after the winter we had up here in New England, we are beyond ready to take the party outside for a change. So before you break out the BBQ this weekend, here are a few tried and true summer entertaining tips from casa Capalbo

 1. Keep it Casual:

I’m all for an elaborate tablescape at a dinner party, but when entertaining outside I prefer to keep things easy. Foraging fresh flowers from our backyard keeps costs down and makes if feel like a more organic experience for our guests. Let the colors of all the fresh food really become the star of the show.

2. Beware of the Bugs:

Entertaining outside is lovely, but make sure you access your bug situation prior. I put little containers of various kinds of bug spray scattered around our entertaining space so guests never have to even ask me for it…because by the time they ask, they are already uncomfortable. Aside from the obvious citronella candles, etc. we also have a few lavender plants in planters on our patio – which not only smell lovely, but they keep the bugs away too!

3. Let There be Light:

Once the sun goes down, you want to make sure everyone can still keep the party going. And what’s better than a party under twinkle lights? We didn’t have a great place to string them, so I created a little DIY stand that was super cheap and movable. With just some ikea planters, a wooden rod and a hook – our backyard was transformed into a space that really sparkles.

4. Local, Farm to Table Menu:

Summer in Rhode Island is pure magic. So we like to really keep things local when entertaining during the warmer months to really show off our little state. Local beers, wines and spirits make cocktail hour a talking point, and we try to keep that Rhode Island connection straight through dessert. Fresh seafood, vegetables and fruit all from farms just up the street always taste more delicious. We also really try to keep the menu easy – and grill everything possible, so we can be out with our guests instead of in the kitchen.

5. Embrace the Beverage Station:

I believe in easy beverage stations, particularly when hosting outdoors. They make your life as a host so much easier, and make you guests feel like they don’t have to ask you for a drink every time they feel a bit parched. Wine in one cute container, beer in another – and obviously make sure there plenty of waters available.

6. Keep Them Comfy:

It never fails to get a little chilly on New England summer nights, so we have plenty of blankets available for our guests to grab when the temperature drops. We also make sure we have a patio heater going or our fire pit roaring for those who are extra chilly.

7. Watch Out For Those UVAs:

For those hours when the sun is shining, make sure your guests have places to get out of the sun if they desire. We also make sure we have sunscreen available in visible places for those who need a little extra protection. Sunburns are so 20 years ago.

8. Temperature Control:

Keeping beverages cool is a constant battle in the middle of the summer. I always overbuy ice, because the last thing I want to do when the party is in full swing is go back out to mend a melting ice situation. I set up a few backup coolers in our garage just in case, and make sure our little beverage stations are nice and cool. 1lb of ice per person is a good rule to tuck away for your next soiree.

9. Layer in the Fun!

Setting up a few games in your backyard will always make for a more humorous¬†evening. We’ve had croquet and corn hole games go into the wee hours of the morning…although perhaps we are a more competitive bunch than most…

10. Host as many as you can!

Before you know it, we’ll all be bundled up by the fire again. Make sure to make the most of this gorgeous summer!

Photography: Erin McGinn | Styling : Abby Capalbo