You want to start by setting an atmosphere that will wow your guests. Create a playlist with some of your favorite summer tunes; nothing like a little Bob Marley or Jimmy Buffett to put you in the summertime mood! Use bursts of playful colors in a palette of lime green, honeydew, sunflower gold and watermelon pink to add fun to any backyard tabletop. For a finishing touch, scatter fresh flowers for a cool summer's night feel.
When it comes to serving food, make your barbecue family-style. Platters of lamb burgers, tuna burgers, cucumber salad with fresh mint, grilled fruit skewers and s'mores coffee and fudge ice cream cake will give your guests a break from the traditional menu of burgers and dogs.
Great drinks always inspire a fun party atmosphere. While you enjoy a refreshing Watermelon Vodka Cooler, the kids can sip on Sassy Pink Lemonade:
Watermelon Vodka Cooler
5 pounds seedless watermelon (about 1/2 medium-size watermelon)
16 ounces lemonade, homemade or high quality
12 ounces vodka
Watermelon balls for garnish
Cut the watermelon flesh into chunks. Working in batches, puree in a blender until liquefied. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the pulp. (You should end up with about 4 cups of juice.)
Combine the watermelon juice, lemonade and alcohol in a two-quart pitcher. Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses and garnish with a melon ball. Without the alcohol, this makes a great children's drink, too!
Sassy Pink Lemonade2 cups sugar
9 cups water
2 cups lemon juice
1 cup cranberry juice
Mix everything in a pitcher and stir until dissolved. Serve over ice.