Easy Style Tips For Entertaining Outdoors

One backyard Fourth of July BBQ coming right up… Doable hosting ideas for entertaining outdoors this summer to create an enjoyable get-together that will be easy on you, from setup to cleanup.

Now that the outdoor summer season is here, Memorial Day has come and gone and it is already June, the Fourth of July will be upon us before we know it. I want to be ready, so I thought I would share how I plan to set up a Fourth of July party we are hosting.

Fourth of July party guest eating at a picnic table along a lake

Summer around the lake sees a lot of action. Every Fourth of July, the state park near me has a fireworks show that we can see perfectly from our lakefront backyard.

The party I am setting up this year is going to be a casual picnic-style, late afternoon into evening get-together to watch the fireworks.

Fourth of July picnic table set along a lake

In past years, we went out on our boat to watch the show on the water. However, it can get a little crazy with literally hundreds of boats in one area of the lake. So this year, we decided to stay ashore and move the large classic picnic table in the yard closer to the shoreline for the best fireworks viewing.

How I Make Entertaining Outdoors Easy

1. Create a Party Closet

This is my number one tip that truly makes entertaining outdoors easy. Stock up on supplies (besides food) for both planned gatherings and impromptu entertaining and store all of it in one easy-to-reach place. When it is time to set up the gathering, all you need to do is grab what you need and go.


If you have read my blog for a long time, then you know I call this storage place in my house my “party closet.”  I even made a sign for it.

It is a small closet in my house where I store everything, including the Chinet® Classic White™ line in a few different shapes and sizes along with disposable drink glasses, cups, utensils, tablecloth, lighter, candles, matches, napkins, salt and pepper shakers, and an extension cord to keep the music playing all night.

Clinking and saying Cheers with Chinet Wine Tumblers

More recently, Chinet® Cut Crystal® Stemless Wine Glasses along with basically everything I need to throw a party in a quick, yet festive way, even on short notice is in my Party Closet.

Picnic food set out on red white and blue picnic table

Another way I have found to keep entertaining easy is that guests really don’t want lavish and over the top. The best get-togethers are simple – no need to fuss and have everything perfect when what guests really are looking forward to is to hang out with family and friends, drink, eat and enjoy the conversation around the table.

Knowing this I still like to add a little of my own style to the table and over the years have made a few no sew tablecloths.

2. How to Make a No Sew Fourth of July Picnic Tablecloth

To add a little red, white and blue spirit to the picnic table for the Fourth, I bought a length of white star spangled navy fabric yardage at the fabric store to make one easy and patriotic tablecloth.

  • To finish the raw edges of the fabric to create a tablecloth, I simply folded the raw edges over an inch, pressed with an iron and used fabric glue to create finished hems.

3. For Evening Get-Togethers… Add Some Ambiance

No need to buy a candle lantern or anything expensive when you can make one or more using large pickle jars and twine.

Patriotic blue tablecloth with white stars and Chinet Classic White plates

Even though it is just a jar – I like the casual vibe. Once it gets dark out, the candle light in them creates the perfect outdoor ambiance for any outdoor setting.

4. How to Create a Moveable Feast When Entertaining Outdoors


In my Party Closet, I also keep two low-sided cardboard boxes that I got at a wholesale warehouse store. They have them to take for free as you leave the store to carry your goods home in.

These low sided boxes help me to make the contents of the Party Closet, portable.  When you can find plain ones with little to no writing on them they look like big square or rectangular trays.  I call them my carry-all trays to bring stuff from inside the house to the outdoor table and entertaining area. I was lucky to find two that fit perfectly on my outdoor sideboard.

5. Add Labels to Coolers, Trash Cans and Recycling Bins

Party trash bags and cooler labels to print out for free

Chinet® Classic White™ products make cleanup easy – just toss when done.

I made these free printable labels for coolers, trash cans as well as for when I place a recycling basket out.  I have them cut and ready to tape on so guests will know the contents of a cooler as well as where to toss disposables and recycling.

6.  When Entertaining Outdoors Serve Tried and True Crowd Pleasers

serving cheeseburgers on a Chinet White Colllection platter

When I entertain outdoors, I serve what I am familiar with making.  It is not the time to try out a new recipe. My basic tried and true recipes always serve up well.

Corn on the cob piled on a Chinet White collection platter

Corn On the Cob Smothered with Butter and Everything Seasoning

Chinet Classic White products are strong enough to serve the heaviest, messiest meals with style and are made from 100% pre-consumer recycled material that can be composted after use.

They are designed to not bend, fold, or leak. I like using them because they are white and add a touch of elegance and coordinate with every event and occasion, just like my white ceramic dinnerware that I use inside my house. White complements any décor and doesn’t take away from showcasing the food.

7. How to Tie Napkins and Utensils onto Disposable Chinet® Classic White™ Plates

Beverage station set up for entertaining outdoors

Chinet® Cut Crystal® cutlery comes in a “host-ready”container making it easy for you to look good when setting out the serving items and food.

When eating outdoors, making things easy for guests as well as myself is important. One thing I like to do with the cutlery is to tie a napkin, disposable knife, fork and spoon onto the plate. It allows for one hand to hold all of it so guests still have a free hand to grab a drink or whatever else they need.

Chinet White Collection compartment plates piled up with napkins and utensils

You can do this with bandanas, cloth or Chinet® Classic White™ napkins well in advance of a party so you have the amount of plates at the ready even for an impromptu get-together.

supplies needed:

  • Chinet® Classic White™ plates or compartment plates   – The compartment plates are my favorite style of disposable plates.  I like that they keep each food item placed on the plate separated.
  • Napkin – either disposable or cloth
  • Disposable cutlery – knife fork and spoon
  • Paper hole punch
  • 10″ ribbon for each plate
  • Scissors
How to tie a napkin and eating utensils onto a paper plate
  1. Use a paper hole punch to make a hole along the right side of the plate as shown.
  2. Thread a 10″ piece of ribbon through hole.
red and white napkin tied onto a Chinet White Compartment plate

3. Lay napkin on top of ribbon and then place the cutlery on top. Gather the napkin with each end of the ribbon and tie the ribbon into a bow or knot. Notch ends of ribbon with scissors.

Chinet Classic White plates

Tying the napkins onto Chinet Classic White plates also adds a little bit of style to a causal picnic table setting when not eating buffet style.

Pickle Jar Candle Lantern

When it starts to get dark outside browse through these backyard lighting ideas that will illuminate your gathering in style.

Do you have anything special planned to celebrate the Fourth of July or any special events this summer?

For more easy and festive ideas for entertaining outdoors, visit MyChinet.com

Creative outdoor entertaining ideas for casual outdoor parties

More Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

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  1. Wow! Beautiful. Classy, but simple. Love it. Once again, thanks for the great ideas!

  2. Jaye Brown says:

    Tying the plastic ware to the Chinet plate….Cute and Genius.

  3. I just happened to stumble upon your blog, and it is fantastic! We just hosted our first housewarming/pool party a few weeks back, and we also have a party supply closet. :) We love to stock up at the end of the seasons so we got things to grab and go for the next year.

  4. Beth Fagundes says:

    Your lake house seems so dreamy Diane! I would love to be there for July 4th! We live on a lake too, here in California, but not right on the water like you are. It looks just lovely, so peaceful and fun! I would adore entertaining in your setting!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth – Entertaining outside is so much fun with the lake as the backdrop. I thank the heavens for making living along a lake a reality. All our guests from toddlers to 70 year olds have really enjoyed hanging out lakeside with us. What is the name of the lake you live on?

  5. I love that idea of tying the napkin and cutlery to the plate! Nobody will be asking “where are the forks?”! Everything looks really cute, Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bettsi- Thanks. :-) I like getting the plates with the napkins and utensils ready in advance. Come party day, setting up the table is a breeze. I have a stack already for the 4th.

  6. I love the attached utensils idea! You are all set for a Happy 4th!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – Thanks. I hope we have nice weather with no rain in the forecast.

  7. Dianne Egan Buquet says:

    Lovely post! Some good ideas. I wish Costco still carried the Chinet clear plastic small dishes, appetizer size. I use them a lot for gatherings and like to purchase in bulk.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dianne – I totally understand. This has happened to me also with a few items that I bought from Costco for years and then one day they no longer have them. :-(

  8. Lots of wonderful, easy ideas! Have a great 4th! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – Thanks Happy 4th. It will be hear pretty soon.

  9. just perfect, very festive. you are so talented.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – Thanks :-) I hope you have an enjoyable summer and Happy 4th.

  10. Bonnie Ciavarella says:

    Thanks for this tip! I’ve tied a napkin around utensils before, but never thought of punching a hole in the plate to connect them. What a great idea! We’re having a graduation party this weekend, so I think I’ll grab some ribbon with our school colors and copy this!

  11. Love your July 4th table and your tie on is brilliant. Didn’t realize Chinet made such pretty glasses. Also as an aside, just wondering if you are wearing your cute hair short. It’s so becoming in your photo.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joan –

      I think the Chinet wine glasses may be new. They are very nice. We took wine and a box of the wine glasses to a party two weeks ago and everyone asked about them. They make drinking wine out of a disposable cup…classy. :-)

      Yes, my hair is short and my natural color…I love it. I had a photo taken for a flower post I will be posting soon. You will see it in that post. I will try to get it posted next week.

  12. I like your idea of fabric glue for the tablecloth. I actually hemmed mine which was more work than it sounds because my table is 12 feet long. So tired of having multiple tables and a jumble of chairs, I had my husband build me a table using 12 foot boards. He adapted a diy pattern for a 9 ft table we found on line. But finding a tablecloth that fit was harder than building the table! I have another length of material and some matching Pom Poms so I think I will give your fabric glue a shot!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Margo – So nice that you have one big table now. Keeps things easier all around. Are you going to add the pom-poms as trim to the tablecloth you are making? That would be one cute tablecloth. :-)

  13. You never cease to amaze me, , the hole punch is brilliant!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Gail – I am sure you will be seeing one of the plates in person this summer on one of our get-togethers.

  14. Connie McGhee says:

    Who hasn’t tried juggling cutlery, plate & a drink? Very clever! Thank you for sharing.

  15. Janice Chapman says:

    Diane – you never fail to amaze me! Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips and tricks for creating and enjoying outdoor entertaining. Tying the utensils to the plate was absolutely BRILLIANT!!!. I also really appreciated the centerpieces – functional, classic and affordable.

  16. What great ideas!!! I would just LOVE to see the inside of your ‘party closet’. You have such great tips. Thanks so much for the lovely post.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debra – You reminded me that I have not shown my Party Closet on the blog yet. The inside needs to be painted. Maybe I will make that a project this summer. In my previous house, I kept everything on the floor in my pantry in a big basket. I called it my Party Basket then since I didn’t have one closet to devote to all things entertaining.

  17. Lovely table and great ideas for entertaining. The corn and burgers look delicious. I want to come to your house for July 4th!

  18. Calypso in the Country says:

    Great idea on the tablecloth – I was going to ask where you bought it! I love how you decorated your table!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks- I bought the white star on the navy background fabric in the cut fabric dept. at Walmart.

      1. Colorado fan says:

        Wonderful ideas and your table is a feast for the eyes. So many of your followers will be running out to buy these plates and cups. Hope they can be recycled! I love all the work you do! May I come to your party?

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          I wish I could invite every reader to my house. What a fun party that would be.