5 No-Sweat Backyard Entertaining Tips from Style Me Pretty's Abby Larson

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Photo: Style Me Pretty

If your idea of a barbecue involves a few hamburger patties and a self-serve cooler, it may be time to rethink your hosting strategy. Luckily, according to Abby Larson, founder and editor of Style Me Pretty Living, upping the ante doesn't necessarily mean extra work. We asked Larson to dish on chic backyard entertaining made easy.

Tip #1: Prepare the night before

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Rustic White

"Most marinades, salads and cocktails can be fully made or almost entirely prepped beforehand," says Larson. "Even things like scoops of ice cream can be pre-scooped and stored in metal cupcake pans in the freezer. Summer sangria can be assembled the night before with pre-cut fruit tossed in the day of and outdoor desserts like strawberry shortcake taste even better when set overnight."

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Tip #2: Keep your pantry stocked

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Anouschka Rokebrand

Here's all you need, according to Larson: "Fresh fruit, a great aged cheese, some summer sausage, savory jams, and crackers," she says. "It's also great to always keep the makings of an easy cocktail or a bottle of Champs, a frozen cheesecake (which you can top with berries impromptu), a few great serving trays in various sizes, and plenty of fabulous disposable serving ware. Do this, and hosting a gathering will always be a total breeze."

Tip #3: Go disposable

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Ruth Eileen

"While you may be used to whipping out your best serve ware anytime guests are around, the options for ridiculously fabulous disposable ware will make you second-guess yourself," she says. "Think gold stripes, fun summer colors, and bamboo everything. Chic and a breeze to clean up!"

Tip #4: Display natural centerpieces

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Bryce Covey

"Flowers are always an easy way to make your space feel festive," Larson says. "You can gussy up store-bought blooms by adding some green clippings from your garden and placing them in cans that you've covered in a pretty fabric or a great color of spray paint. Or, skip the flowers altogether and line the table with paper windmills that blow in the breeze or big bowls of brightly colored lemons."

Tip #5: Have a little fun

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Ruth Eileen

"The great thing about outdoor entertaining is that you don't need to take yourself too seriously," Larson says. "Whether it's a popcorn maker, a margarita machine or a fun snow cone maker, have a little fun with your get together and your guests will feel instantly at ease."

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