Outdoor summer entertaining doesn’t have to center around burgers and hotdogs. Cooking your favorite foods on the grill adds new flavors to old classics, such as fresh seafood.
Set your table early -- that's the fun part! Set up the table where it will remain in dappled shade, and keep in mind all the details that make any table special, indoor or outdoor: themed place card holders, napkin rings and large platters for family style entertaining.
When dining on the porch or patio, it's a good idea to use dinnerware that won't chip, crack or break. With plates made from high-quality melamine, you won't have to sacrifice elegance for utility.
A large serving tray makes it easy to carry items between the kitchen and the outdoor dining space. Load it with pitchers and glasses for hassle-free refills, or extra condiment bowls for the main course.
When serving seafood, don’t forget finger bowls. Peeling can get messy, and it's nice to offer guests small bowls with lemon for easy clean up. Also, place extra empty bowls on the table where people can discard seafood shells.
Special tools for seafood are both functional and decorative when they become a part of the table setting. Arrange lobster mallets in a glass jar or vase and place seafood crackers on the edge of each plate to set a tone for the party.
Oversized napkins at each place setting can work double duty as bibs when eating seafood, which can become a bit messy.
Nothing pairs with freshly grilled seafood quite like a spritz of bright citrus. Pass lemon and lime wedges around in a condiment bowl so guests can help themselves.
For any cookout, the golden rule is excess is more -- from the food to a “party tub” filled with cool beverages. Always have enough.