Looking for casual outdoor dining inspiration for the big summer holidays like Memorial Day or Father’s Day? Wait until you see these backyard BBQ ideas.

With Memorial Day and Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start planning a special celebration to honor the dads in our lives.

And what better way to celebrate than with a casual backyard BBQ?

Today, I want to share some tips and ideas on how to set a casual table and keep things simple for the host, so you can focus on enjoying the day with your loved ones.

So grab a cold drink and let’s get started!

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Supper Club

We’ve been having a great time with our supper club and this month we are celebrating all the dads with a cozy, casual backyard BBQ.

Whether you are hosting family or friends, we are sharing lots of table decorating and entertaining ideas to celebrate Dad in style.

In case you are new here, I’m Stacy, a master gardener who lives and gardens in northern New Jersey, zone 6a.

We recently moved to a beautiful 1850 Farmhouse with 10 acres of gardens, sculptures and statues.

I’ve been gardening for over 20 years and enjoy helping beginner gardeners find their inner green thumb, as well as discover a love for all things plants and flowers. I love to bring the outdoors inside my home too.

I hope you enjoy visiting my home today and hope you come back so we can grow stuff and create beautiful spaces together.

backyard bbq table with navy and white buffalo check tablecloth, marigolds, wicker chairs in outdoor dining area in potager garden

How to Host a Memorable Summer Barbecue

Whether you’re an experienced host or new to hosting, I’m here to guide you through the process. So, let’s fire up the grill and make this Memorial Day or Father’s Day celebration one to remember!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you pull it all together.

Plan Ahead

Start by planning the details of the summer barbecue in advance. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Set a date and time.
  • Create a guest list. Keep in mind the preferences and dietary restrictions of your guests so you can create an incredible dining experience.
  • Plan the menu with crowd-pleasing summer barbecue dishes and sides. Decide whether you’ll be grilling burgers, steaks, ribs, or a mix of different meats and vegetables.
  • Make a comprehensive shopping list based on your planned menu. Don’t forget to include marinades, seasonings, beverages, and any additional ingredients you’ll need.
summer cookout table outdoor dining area of potager garden with navy and white check table cloth, marigolds, wicker chairs

Prepare the Backyard

Ensure your backyard is ready to host the barbecue. Here’s what you need to do:

Give your backyard a good clean, removing any clutter or debris. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, and clear any cobwebs. Create a beautiful, welcoming environment for your guests with lots of curb appeal.

Arrange ample seating for your guests. Set up tables and chairs in a way that encourages mingling and conversation. If you’re going for a more casual vibe, consider picnic-style seating with blankets or outdoor cushions.

Provide shade and shelter options to keep your guests comfortable. Set up umbrellas, canopies, or outdoor tents, especially if you’re expecting sunny or unpredictable weather. And have a backup plan in case the weather is inclement.

Add some festive decorations to create a lively atmosphere. Hang streamers, place potted plants or fresh flowers on the tables, and consider incorporating a patriotic or Father’s Day-themed decorations like banners or signs.

summer bbq table for father's day with blue and white check table cloth, vintage amber glassware, marigolds in vintage vessel centerpiece in outdoor dining space of potager garden

Prepare the Grill and BBQ Area

The grill is the heart of your barbecue, so make sure it’s ready for action by preparing it ahead of time.

Clean the grill grates and remove any leftover residue from previous grilling sessions. Ensure the grill is in good working condition and has enough fuel, whether it’s charcoal, propane, or wood.

It’s been recommended not to use a wire brush for this task, as the wires can break off and get into your food.

I saw a tip to clean the grill with an onion. Have you ever tried this before? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

If you’re marinating the meat or preparing any dishes in advance, do so a day or two before the barbecue. Chop vegetables, make sauces, and organize everything you’ll need for the grill.

The more you can prep and do ahead of time, the easier the day will go for you as the host.

Familiarize yourself with grilling safety guidelines to prevent accidents. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and ensure proper ventilation while grilling.

outdoor dining space in potager garden set for casual backyard summer barbecue with blue and white check table cloth, marigolds, wicker chairs, and raised garden beds

Set Up a Beverage Station

Quench everyone’s thirst with a well-stocked beverage station.

I like to create two distinct stations so I can keep alcoholic beverages vs non-alcoholic beverages separate.

Fill coolers or buckets with ice and stock them with a variety of drinks. Offer a range of options such as water, soda, lemonade, iced tea, and even some refreshing non-alcoholic mocktails.

If you’re serving alcoholic drinks, provide a selection of beers, wines, or cocktails that pair well with barbecue flavors. Set up a separate area for alcoholic beverages to ensure responsible consumption.

close up of table settings for casual summer bbq table set for fathers day with white melamime plates, navy napkins, wood napkin ring, amber wine glasses, brown craft paper and marigold centerpiece

Create a Festive Atmosphere

Enhance the ambiance of your Father’s Day barbecue with some thoughtful touches:

Set up speakers or create a playlist with Dad’s favorite tunes or some classic barbecue jams. Music adds to the festive mood and keeps everyone entertained throughout the event.

Plan some fun games and activities to keep guests of all ages engaged. Set up a cornhole or horseshoe toss, organize a friendly backyard sports match, or have a board game station for some relaxed fun.

If you are hosting for a summer holiday, take a moment during the celebration to honor the fallen or fathers in attendance. You can have dedicated time for speeches or invite guests to share heartfelt stories and memories.

summer bbq table in potager garden with raised garden beds filled with herbs, vegetables and garden flowers with green garden fence, ninebark and lonicera blooms

Cook and Serve

Now it’s time to fire up the grill and serve up a scrumptious feast:

  • Grilling: Start grilling the main dishes, whether it’s burgers, steaks, ribs, or vegetables. Pay attention to cooking times and temperatures to ensure everything is cooked to perfection.
  • Side Dishes: While the main dishes are grilling, set up a buffet area for side dishes like salads, coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, and other favorites. Label each dish to make it easy for guests to choose what they want.
  • Condiments and Toppings: Provide a variety of condiments and toppings for guests to customize their burgers or hot dogs. Offer options like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, pickles, onions, cheese, and lettuce.
  • Desserts: Don’t forget to include some sweet treats to end the meal on a high note. Serve up classics like fruit salads, pies, cookies, or perhaps even a special Father’s Day cake.
close up of backyard summer cookout table with navy and white buffalo check table cloth, brown craft paper, cedar branch placemats, white melamine plates, navy napkin, wood napkin rings, vintage amber wine goblets and marigold centerpiece

Enjoy the Celebration

Finally, it’s time to relax and enjoy the celebration with your guests.

Although you are hosting, take the opportunity to connect with your guests, catch up, and engage in conversations. Enjoy the time with friends and family.

And makes sure you stop and snap a photo or two. Or you can set up a designated area for photos with props and a backdrop. Encourage guests to take pictures and create lasting memories.

I know it’s tough to sit and relax when you are hosting, but remind yourself to take a few breaks so you can enjoy the moment. Grab a plate, sit back, and savor the delicious food and delightful company.

You worked hard for a fun party!

backyard barbecue table set in the outdoor dining space of the potager garden with mariglds, navy napkins, navy and white checkered tablecloth, cedarbranch placements, vintage amber wine glasses and marigolds.

How to Keep Things Simple for the Host

As the host of a casual backyard BBQ, it’s essential to keep things simple and stress-free for yourself so you can enjoy the day too.

Even if you are gathering for a summer holiday like Memorial Day or Father’s Day, they are not one of those high-stress holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Summer barbecues are pretty easy to throw and pull together.

Follow these tips for a stress-free summer barbecue.

Serve Potluck Style

Don’t hesitate to ask guests to contribute to the meal. Encourage a potluck-style gathering where everyone brings a dish.

This way, the workload is shared, and it adds to the variety of food available. Plus, it’s always exciting to try new recipes and taste different flavors.

summer bbq table in potager garden with marigolds and view of the farmhouse with tree sculptures at sunset

Prep in Advance

Plan your menu ahead of time and choose dishes that can be prepped in advance. Marinate the meat, chop the vegetables, and prepare salads the day before.

This will save you time and allow you to spend more of the day enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Keep the Menu Simple

Instead of going all out with an elaborate menu, opt for simple and crowd-pleasing dishes. Burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies, and a fresh salad are all classic BBQ favorites that are easy to prepare and enjoy.

Don’t forget to include some vegetarian or vegan options for guests with dietary restrictions.

Create a Self-Serve Bar

Setting up a self-serve bar area allows guests to help themselves to drinks and condiments.

Keep a cooler stocked with ice and a variety of beverages, including water, soda, and maybe even some homemade lemonade or iced tea.

Offer a range of condiments and toppings for the main dishes so everyone can customize their plates.

summer bbq table with view of the crabapples in potager garden with outdoor dining space decorated with wicker chairs, navy and white checked table cloth, marigolds with raised garden beds

Setting a Casual Table for a Backyard BBQ

When it comes to a casual backyard BBQ, you want the atmosphere to be relaxed and laid-back.

The same goes for your table setup. Here are a few ideas to help you create a casual and inviting space:

Picnic-style Seating

Who says you need a formal dining table for a backyard BBQ? If you have an outdoor dining table great!

But if you want more seating options, embrace the casual vibe by setting up picnic blankets, outdoor cushions, or even hay bales for seating.

It creates a cozy and relaxed atmosphere where everyone can kick back and enjoy the delicious food.

Mix-and-Match Tableware

Don’t worry about having matching plates and glasses. Embrace the eclectic charm by using a mix of colorful and patterned tableware.

This not only adds a touch of personality but also makes cleanup a breeze since you won’t have to worry about perfectly matching sets.

Mason Jars and Paper Straws

For drinks, consider serving them in mason jars. They have a rustic appeal and are durable enough for outdoor use.

Add some fun with colorful paper straws or even personalized tags tied around the jars. It’s a simple touch that adds a lot of charm to the overall setup.

Outdoor Lighting

As the evening approaches, create a warm and inviting ambiance with outdoor lighting. Hang string lights across the backyard or hang solar lanterns on shepherd hooks. Or you can even add some mini lanterns on tables.

It not only adds a cozy glow but also extends the festivities into the evening hours.

outdoor dining space decorated for a casual summer barbecue for fathers day with wicker chairs, blue and white tableclloth, marigolds, and green arbor with lonicera

Easy Outdoor Dining Table Decorating Ideas for a Casual Summer Cookout

To decorate my table in the potager garden, I started with a simple navy and white buffalo check tablecloth.

Then added a casual cozy layer of brown craft paper as the table runner.

To keep the centerpiece super simple, I picked up some beautiful marigolds and planted them in this vintage planter.

As an aside, I love the rusty metal and scroll design, don’t you?

For each place setting, I started with a cedar branch placemat. Then added these pretty white melamine plates like these.

And topped each table setting with a navy cloth napkin in pretty wood napkin rings like these.

To add some color, to the table I used these amber vintage wine goblets. You could also mixe in some simple mason jars for a more casual look too.

As an aside, I love using mason jars on a casual table because you can serve a variety of drinks in them such as:

For a little added ambiance, I added some small votive candles.

casual summer cookout table for a BBQ with navy and white tablecloth, wicker chairs, marigolds and raised garden beds

More Grilling Ideas for Summer

How do you like to celebrate the big summer holidays like Memorial Day or Father’s Day? Do you host or attend any cookouts too? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

Wait Until You See These Summer Barbecue and Father’s Day Cookout Ideas

Looking for More Supper Club Ideas?

Our supper club has been so much fun and we’ve covered so much over the last year.

Whether you are in a supper club or just want some dinner party theme inspiration, check out the themes we’ve hosted before.

And click here if you want to learn how to organize and host your own supper club. They are so fun to do and provide a great reason to gather regularly with family and friends.

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casual backyard bbq table with navy and white tablecloth, brown craft paper and marigolds in vintage planter
Two women stand side by side, smiling in front of a colorful puzzle-piece mural with various illustrations. The left woman wears a denim jacket and a light pink dress, while the right woman wears a dark green blouse and a black skirt.

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed
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12 Comments

  1. You have the best outdoor gardens to entertain in! You shared some amazing tips…pinned to remember later.

  2. Such a beautiful setting for a Father’s Day dinner, and as usual, your floral centerpiece is beautiful!

  3. Beautiful gardens and table setting!! Wondering where you purchased your gorgeous wicker chairs?

    1. Thank you Sally! I bought the chairs from Pier 1 several years ago. Not sure what kind of selection they have online now, but these are very comfortable! xo

  4. I love all your great ideas for a casual backyard BBQ Stacy. I love having parties at our house in the summer and it’s all about casual! Love your outdoor space with the table and chairs. It’s so beautiful!

  5. Stacy your table is so gorgeous. I love the masculine blue check with those beautiful yellow goblets. I would love to crash a party in your gardens. The perfect spot to entertain and celebrate Father’s Day. Pinned