Hosting Tips

Hello, Summer! Our Backyard BBQ with Target

By Camille Styles
backyard barbecue

I’ve always been a total summer girl, and my favorite moments of the season are backyard barbecues with friends and family: burgers on the grill, lemonade in hand, and everyone’s moods as sunny as the Austin weather forecast. With Father’s Day around the corner and an entire season devoted to outdoor entertaining ahead, our latest party with Target is all about putting a few new twists on this summertime favorite. Keep scrolling for tips on throwing a party this colorful and fun at home — and one that’s so easy you’ll be swimming, hula hooping, and eating snow cones right along with your guests!

photography by Kate LeSueur

When Adam and I built our house six years ago, we worked to create a space where our indoor lives flowed seamlessly into the outdoors so we could spend as much time as possible soaking up the sunshine and surrounding ourselves with nature. There’s no denying that outdoor entertaining brings its own set of complications, but that’s certainly no reason to miss out on the fun of al fresco dining. All you need is a little advance prep and some practical tips…

shop the look: Modern by Dwell Magazine Dining ChairsOutdoor Eucalyptus Rectangular Dining Table

Tip #1: Keep it easy breezy.

Outdoor parties call for no-fuss tabletops, but that doesn’t mean style has to take a backseat. A statement printed runner and vibrant melamine drinkware can withstand the elements, and I love the idea of mixing in cute disposables to make things even easier.

shop the look: Assorted cups from Target’s Poptimism! collection; Threshold Patterned Napkins; Threshold Botanic Table Runner

The watermelon motif on these plates makes them the chicest disposables ever.

shop the look: 4th of July Watermelon Dinner Plates and Snack PlatesAssorted Plasticware

Tip #2: Decorate with tropical leaves.

Instead of a floral arrangement, we created a modern look by placing a few big tropical leaves in stoneware vases — bonus points for being an incredibly easy and affordable centerpiece. I love this option for Father’s Day since it’s stylish without being girly.

shop the look: Big Kids Round Salad Plate; Assorted Plasticware

Tip #3: Setup a cool-down station to beat the heat.

Keep guests hydrated and comfortable by setting up an area dedicated to sunscreen, bug spray, and a large drink dispenser full of water infused with citrus slices or fresh herbs.

shop the look: Beverage Dispenser; Sun Bum Sunscreen; Soft Bamboo Tray; Steel Caddy

shop the look: Camille’s Multicolored Dress, Phoebe’s Stripe Dress

Tip #4: Fire it up.

Want to keep post-party cleanup to a minimum? Cook as much on a big grill as possible to cut down on the number of pans you’ll be washing at the end of the night. During the summer, many of our dinners are made entirely on the grill, and we love hanging out as a family while the food cooks.

Have y’all started your Father’s Day shopping yet? Target’s my one-stop source for all the men in my life (and lets admit: guys can be tough to buy for!) I think the key is to choose a gift that reflects their personal interests and passions. Adam loves to grill, so I’m getting him this BBQ Tool Set with Rosewood Handles or this Smith & Hawken Potting Table for his landscaping projects.

Need more dad gift ideas? How about a pair of Bose Headphones, this Threshold Glass Wine Decanter for savoring his vino of choice, or a new Cordless Drill for tackling his many projects? If he’s a badminton fan like these guys, Target’s got that, too.

This Mexican Corn Salad makes it onto most of my summertime party menus. Brimming with chiles and herbs, it’s my favorite way to savor fresh corn in season.

Tip #5: Everyone loves a build-your-own fajita bar!

And I think it’s the perfect party food. It’s an easy menu to make in very large portions and everyone can create a plate that’s suited to their own preferences, and it can accommodate dietary restrictions.

shop the look: Chanel’s One-Piece Swimsuit

Dress up juicy watermelon wedges with coarse sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lime. Yum!

Our friends Anne, Cameron, Cora, Marguerite, and Anders arrive, decked out for summer!

shop the look: Anne’s Cold Shoulder Dress

This lounge chair was a guest favorite, and with its punchy color, it added just the right pop to our typically neutral outdoor space.

shop the look: Marguerite’s Colorful Outfit

There’s no such thing as too many pool floats!

shop the look: Watermelon and Giant Pink Flamingo Pool Floats

shop the look: Floral Table Runner

On the menu:

  • grilled chicken & veggie fajitas
  • spicy Mexican corn salad
  • watermelon wedges with sea salt
  • snow cones
  • mint lemonade (spiked for grown ups!)

To make an easy menu feel party-worthy, it’s ALL about the garnishes. I fill up bamboo bowls with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and all the other fixings for fajitas that feel a little fancier.

Tip #6: Get your game on

Spark some friendly competition with classic lawn games like badminton, washers, or bocce ball. Even a few hula hoops and beach balls scattered in the yard will keep guests of all ages entertained!

Your lawn game checklist:

  • beach balls
  • hula hoops
  • badminton
  • pool floats
  • bocce ball

Our flamingo float made the perfect resting spot for when the gang got tired.

Tip #7: End things on a sweet note.

Capture the nostalgia of summer by surprising guests with an at-home snow cone maker. Let everyone choose the syrup of their choice — and adults can get theirs spiked! — for the ultimate crowd pleaser.

shop the look: poptimism! popsicle string lights

The girls had their eyes on the snow cone station from the moment the party started.

Does it get more summery than this?!

shop the look: Henry’s Striped Swim Trunks

We splashed around until the sun set, taking breaks only for snow cones, watermelon, and sunscreen reapplication.

Cheers to a season full of impromptu parties, food served straight of the grill, and everyone staying up past their bedtime!

Shop the entire party here to recreate this look in your own backyard this summer!