24 Ways to Make Your Summer Cookouts Sizzle

From drinks to décor, here’s how to be 2024’s hottest host.

Throwing the perfect summer cookout is all about combining great food, refreshing drinks, and fun everyone will love! With the temperature heating up, we put together our favorite refreshments, side dishes, décor, and activities to help make your home the place to party.

  1. Put together a pimento cheese bar

This easy app will give everyone something to graze on without heating up the kitchen.

  1. Create flower crown crafts

Grab fresh flowers, embroidery hoops, wire, twine, and scissors for a craft station that makes everyone feel like a king or queen.

  1. Turn up a summer party playlist

Does any season have more dedicated playlists than summer? Create your own or play one with all your favorite hits.

  1. Play some lawn games

From classics like cornhole and croquet to more recent crowd-pleasers like oversized Jenga, nothing says fun like games played on grass.

  1. Give guests a grazing board

Cured meats, cheese, crackers, veggies, fruits – the possibilities are endless when you’re giving guests something to snack on!

  1. Whip up a berry dessert spread

Boards don’t have to be just for the apps. Pies, tarts, and cookies can be just the start of your end-of-meal platter.

  1. Mix together a berry spritzer

It’s berry season, so combine a little orange juice, sugar, lemon, basil, and your favorite berries for a refreshing summer drink.

  1. Build a soda float buffet

Speaking of drinks, keep ice cream cold over frozen water balloons for easy build-your-own-and-go soda floats.

  1. Grill up pizzas

The grill is for more than meat. Fire it up for pizzas that can be served with any topping as an app or the main course.

  1. Chill with a sparkly beverage

Stir up a bubbly blend of sparkling rose and smashed raspberries for a simple refreshment to fit any occasion.

  1. Serve a delicious salad

Grab the season’s fresh produce and your favorite dressing for a lighter side that may be as good as the main course.

  1. Win card games

For a porch-loving crowd, grab a pack of vintage playing cards and see what games your guests gravitate to.

  1. Set up a lemonade stand

Give the little ones something fun to do by managing the refreshment station and making those lemons into lemonade.

  1. Fill up water balloons

On a hot summer’s day, who can say no to a bin full of water balloons to cool off in a fun way?

  1. Light the fire pit

When night comes and the air cools down a bit, keep the party going with a fire pit and some s’mores.

  1. Lay out a picnic blanket

Whether you’re at the park or your backyard, nothing says summer cookout like a cozy picnic blanket ordained with food to enjoy.

  1. Cook your own pasta salad

This is an side you can make ahead of time and keep in the fridge until it’s ready to serve.

  1. Offer gift tag drink labels

Keep everyone’s drink straight by setting gift tags and string out so your guests can write their name and attach it to their cup.

  1. Freeze watermelon pops

Is there any fruit better for summer than watermelon? Stick slices on popsicle sticks and freeze for a delightful treat (even better infused with tequila).

  1. Decorate for a patriotic party

With so many patriotic holidays throughout the summer, there’s no better time to hang the American flag and grab red, white, and blue décor.

  1. Make a DIY menu

Coat a tall piece of plywood with black chalkboard paint for a professional-looking board that can be reused with new menus.

  1. Create a walking taco bar

For Tex-Mex-themed cookouts, open up snack-sized bags of everyone’s favorite tortilla chips and let people make their own tacos.

  1. Prep ice cream

Pre-scoop ice cream into cupcake liners and freeze until the party starts for easy serving.

  1. Punch up your plates

Help guests avoid juggling their plates and utensils by punching a hole out of the plate and tying everything together with twine.