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Hosting at Home: Summer Outdoor Food & Fun

You don’t need a special occasion to bring people together for a summer party—the beautiful weather is reason enough. Whether you’re going for something casual, elegant or fun, these three classic summer parties are sure bets for pleasing your guests.

barbecue cookout
You can’t let summer go by without an outdoor barbecue. Invite your friends and family to your backyard or rent a picnic site at a nearby park for a classic St. Louis cookout.

  • Celebrate our city’s famous barbecue with sauces and rubs from local spots like Sugarfire and Pappy’s. If you need a backup plan, stock up on smoked meats available for purchase from Salt + Smoke’s website.
  • Cookouts aren’t just about the meat, so be sure to balance out the meal with veggies and sides, like grilled Mexican street corn or a black bean and mango salad.
  • Make sure to have plenty of refreshments to cool off your guests. Grab a selection of beers from breweries across the city at the Saint Louis Hop Shop.
  • Finish up your St. Louis barbecue with a St. Louis classic: gooey butter cake. Pick up this local favorite from Russell’s, Gooey Louie or another area bakery for dessert.
  • For family-friendly activities, rent giant games, movie screens or inflatables from The Bounce House Company in St. Charles.

al fresco dinner
Americans tend to use “al fesco” to refer to dining outside. Back in Italy where the term originates, it means “in the cool.” So, when the summer heat gets to be too much, take a cue from the Italians and host your outdoor party on a cool evening.

  • For decor, go with seasonal pastel table settings and string some lights and paper lanterns through your trees.
  • Keep the Italian theme with refreshing caprese salads and rustic flatbreads using ingredients from Italian markets on The Hill.
  • Give your guests a unique experience by engaging them in a hands-on charcuterie lesson from the experts at Charcu in the Lou or an in-home wine tasting from Robust Wine Bar.
  • Who can resist angel food cake or parfaits with fresh tropical fruit? Fruit-topped desserts are the perfect way to wrap up the evening.
  • Unfortunately, summer nights can attract pests. The good news is that there are mosquito repellent diffusers and lamps that will keep mosquitoes away while adding a nice decorative touch to your patio.

pool party
Nothing feels better on a hot summer day than jumping in the pool. With a few simple tricks, you can create a backyard tropical oasis.

  • You don’t have to build a tiki hut to transport your party to an island resort. Fill the pool with inflatable flamingo and pineapple floats Offer toy ukuleles, shell necklaces and grass skirts as party favors. For a classy touch, work with a florist to create fresh flower leis.
  • Supply tropical refreshments like piña coladas and daiquiris, which are just as tasty without the alcohol for underage guests. Serve each type in different containers, such as coconuts, pineapples and colorful tiki cups.
  • Don’t let the sun’s powerful rays ruin the party. Set up large umbrellas and keep sunscreen, sun hats, sunglasses and aloe vera on hand.
  • To entertain kids, you’ll want plenty of beach balls and pool toys. To give parents a chance to take a dip, steer the kids to the lawn with other activities like water balloons and inflatable sprinklers.
  • Take stock of your poolside furniture. Adorn chaise lounges and daybeds with colorful pillows for a stylish summer snooze.
  • Sprinkle in a few small tables to hold drinks and snacks. To make your deck pop, throw in a stand-out piece like a luxurious sunbed with a canopy.


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