Whether you need some last-minute Memorial Day BBQ ideas, or just want some inspo for future outdoor shindigs now that summer’s officially kicked off, there are a few key ways that you can set your feast apart from the basic burgers-and-beer hangout.
I consulted pro chef and Texas BBQ expert Jess Pryles, along with Chuck Prescott, VP of operations at the NYC-based catering and event company Sweet Hospitality Group, for their top tips on how to make a casual cookout just a touch classier.
From recipes that go a step above average to easy decor touches that make your BBQ a little more special, these 10 tips will help you host a fun, memorable, and highly Instagrammable cookout.
"I love the idea of using a typical red-and-white gingham cloth and then mixing that with white ceramic plates and using red cotton napkins," says Prescott.
Photo: Apres Fete
"For the evening, add a few votive candles around the table or clear bottles filled with candles or wildflowers," Prescott suggests.
Photo: Style Me Pretty
"I like to use inexpensive, rustic linen dish towels for napkins. The linens add a bit of luxury but can still be used in a causal setting. Another nice touch is to add a sprig of rosemary or fresh flowers, or tying the napkin with a piece of twine," says Pryles.
Photo: Silk and Willow
"Use Campbell's soup cans or mason jars and fill them with flowers, having a few of these going down the center of the table," says Prescott.
Photo: Ashley Ann Photography
"Cocktails served in mini soda bottles with striped straws is fun and cute presentation. Watermelon and lemonade are just a few things that go well with most spirits for the summer BBQ," says Prescott.
Photo: Style Me Pretty
"I collect vintage cutting boards from antique stores and love to bring them out with hors d'oeuvres when I have guests over. They introduce fun texture and tons of character," says Pryles.
Photo: Hither and Thither
"For seafood lovers, offer up oysters by creating a raw bar," says Prescott. "Then shuck it up!"
Photo: Basil Genovese
"I recommend putting an elegant twist on deviled eggs by adding praline bacon and a sprinkle of BBQ rub. These are great because they are easy to prepare in advance!" says Pryles.
Recipe: Live Simply
"Forget about the burger and exchange it for a fresh piece of fish," suggests Prescott. "A fresh tuna avocado burger with scallions, soy, ginger, chili paste and seaweed salad on a black brioche is the perfect burger substitute, and the flavor is outrageous."
Recipe: Scaling Back Blog