The Fourth of July is rapidly approaching. No pressure, but you need to get it right. So we asked Maureen Petrosky, the entertainment ambassador for Jack Daniel’s and the NFL, to give us some advice for throwing the best damn outdoor party of the year. Then we picked ten products that will help elevate that patio time to the next level.
Don’t do it all. You’re not Martha Stewart, so don’t take on everything yourself. Have each guest bring something, whether it’s ice or napkins or tasty sides.
Have a signature cocktail and make it ahead of time. Always offer a cocktail, but make it in big batches ahead of time (see recipe below). You can fill up a self-serve drink dispenser so guests can have a drink right when they walk in. Make one for the kids, too.
Prepare a first-aid basket. Think of this as a survival kit for summer. It’s full of sunscreen, band-aids, bug spray, sunglasses, visors…all of the things that people always forget, but need when they’re spending time outside.
Play games. If you have a lawn, set up badminton. People will play badminton because it doesn't require a lot of skill. If you have a small space, set up a few table games, like checkers or mancala. Games are conversation starters and give guests something to focus on besides just eating and drinking.
Keep people out of the kitchen. It’s an outdoor party, so you want people to hang out outside. Everyone follows the food. So set up the drinks and snacks outside. Put a small bar in one corner and a small table with food in another so folks have multiple places to gather.
Petrosky’s Tennessee Buck
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 8 chopped strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 ounces simple syrup
- 2 cups Jack Daniels Single Barrel Rye
- Angostura bitters, 2-3 dashes per glass
- 2 cups (16 ounces) ginger beer, chilled
- More strawberry slices, for garnish
Directions: In a large pitcher, muddle chopped strawberries, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add bourbon and ice and stir. Add 2 to 3 dashes of Angostura bitters to eight ice-filled highball glasses. Strain the cocktail, distributing evenly into the glasses. Top each glass with ginger beer and garnish with a couple of strawberry slices.
Yeti Tank 45 ($200)
A standard cooler is fine, but we like the “open-air” concept of the Tank, which has room for 52 cans. The thick roto-molded walls and polyurethane foam insulation will keep you from having to constantly restock the ice.
Barebones Forest Lanterns ($50)
Proper lighting is key as the party shifts to dusk. Petrosky suggests a layered approach to lighting, with string lights overhead and individual lights on tables. We like these vintage-inspired lanterns that you can dim accordingly and that come with built-in USB ports, in case a guest needs to charge a phone.
Trent Austin Designs Bar Cart ($170)
This industrial-chic bar cart gives you all the space you need for a proper cocktail set up without taking up too much room on the patio.
Stahl Steel Firepit ($950)
Stahl’s steel firepits are made in Portland from quarter-inch steel, but they’re non-welded so you can assemble the five-piece pit together and take it apart as needed. Most important: they’re stunning.
Snowpeak Take Bamboo Chair ($160)
Snowpeak’s interpretation of a director’s chair is as elegant as anything else the company designs, combining washable canvas with laminated bamboo. It’s beautiful but can hold up to the elements, and you can store it when you don’t need extra seating, thanks to the folding design.
Best Made Co. Enamelware ($100)
Your guests deserve something better than paper plates, so use these summer-camp-inspired dishes from Best Made Co. that will last approximately forever, thanks to the steel body and reinforced rim double-dipped in enamel.
Chums Red, White and Blue Sunglasses Holder ($7)
These Chums will add a little American flag flare to your BBQ. The neoprene eyewear accessory keeps your glasses secure whether you're deep in the backcountry or bending over the grill. Buy them in bulk for an awesome party favor.
Uuni 3 Pizza Oven ($300)
Burgers and dogs are great, but wood-fired pizza is even better, thanks largely to Uuni’s portable, no-fuss pizza ovens. The Uuni 3 is fueled by wood pellets and can reach 932 degrees in 10 minutes, cooking a thin-crust pizza in just 60 seconds. Create a smorgasbord of toppings and let your guests create their own masterpieces.
Lodge Sportsman’s Grill ($155)
Lodge makes its cast iron products here in the U.S., and this small, portable grill has the heft of an heirloom yet is still small enough to set up on the fly. If you have a cramped patio and are only entertaining a few guests, this is the perfect sized grill. If it’s a larger gathering, fire up a couple for an Iron Chef-style grilling competition.
Layback Co. Freedom Canvas Hammock ($110)
A hammock can entertain kids for hours and provide a place for grandpa to take his post-dinner nap. This one is made from heavy, 100-percent cotton canvas with brass eyelets and secures via stout, braided rope. Most importantly, it's on theme.