While summer technically begins on June 20, it's safe to say that the season really kicks off over Memorial Day Weekend. Invite your friends to kick back and revel in the warm weather with an alfresco gathering that's flexible enough to celebrate a graduation, a bridal shower, or just the garden's fresh blooms. From color-splashed décor to a downright delicious menu, including three insanely delicious Mediterranean recipes from chef Einat Admony of the N.Y.C. tapas hot spot Combina, here's a foolproof guide for throwing an outdoor summer shindig that'll have guests raving through Labor Day.
2. SET THE SCENE
Anyone who's ever hosted a dinner party knows that entertaining can be a hassle if not done right, so to ensure that you spend more time enjoying the fresh air than stressing about the ambiance, we gathered three decorating tips that’ll make alfresco entertaining a breeze. Get the full breakdown here.
3. MIX A FIZZY COCKTAIL
This drink will set the mood with its bubbles, citrus bite, and enticing rosy color. The secret ingredient? Cocchi Americano, a classic Italian bitter, lends herbal intrigue to the blend, which can be made in batches. Get the recipe here.
4. WHIP UP A DELICIOUS SALAD
Consider making freekeh your new summer staple. The earthy Middle Eastern cereal food (pronounced "free-kah") is packed with even more protein, fiber, and nutrients than quinoa. If you need some culinary inspiration, look no further than this colorful crowd-pleaser that artfully combines fresh herbs, chili peppers, and tangy lemon dressing. Portion it into individual glasses, as pictured above ($10/set of 8; cb2.com), for easy to eat single-servings. Get the recipe here.
5. BREAK OUT THE BARBEQUE
Sure, summer BBQs are fun, but let's be real: they can also be a huge mess. Thankfully, these spicy chicken skewers are pioneering a new wave of immaculate finger food. A mélange of cumin, turmeric, and paprika, the flavor-packed appetizer tastes even better when coupled with creamy tahini sauce. Get the recipe here.
6. MAKE A REFRESHING SNACK
This delicious mix of frozen mangoes, peaches, and berries with a splash of tequila is the perfect snack to tide you over on a balmy summer afternoon. Not only does it look gorgeous—it's brimming with essential vitamins and nutrients (and, okay, yes, a little booze too). Get the recipe here.
7. SEND 'EM HOME WITH SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Set out one basket piled high with old-school wooden yo-yos ($7 each; areohome.com), another filled with oil-based paint markers ($16/5; staples.com), and invite kids and adults alike to decorate their toys with abandon.