A true sign of summer for me is when we get our patio set up for the season! This step officially gets the ball rolling on summer grilling season. One thing I realized a few summer ago is that it’s a lot of work to actually eat al fresco. You have to gather up the grilling utensils, dig around for some paper plates, find all the condiments and utensils…you get the idea! I started to find the idea of eating outside more fun in theory than in reality! Then, last summer, I came up with a solution for my outdoor eating dilemma! I created a Outdoor Entertaining Bar Cart that was filled with all of our summertime dining essentials! So today, I’ll share this bar cart and give you some ideas for what to include in your summer dining station.
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Setting up an Outdoor Dining Station
I purchased this bar cart a few years ago for the exact purpose of organizing all of our patio supplies. I intended for the cart to be left out just during the summer. However, I found so many uses for it year round that it has stayed out! (You can see my Popcorn Bar Cart HERE and our Halloween Bar Cart HERE).
A bar cart is not a necessity for a dining station — a picnic basket or a big bin would also work! The key is to have all the items you will need to eat outdoors in ONE SPOT, preferably near the door leading to your outdoor dining area!
You could even use a large party bin or a big cooler to store all of your items and then it doubles as beverage holder when you are entertaining!
Next, you have to decide where to keep the bar cart/bin. I prefer to keep our bar cart indoors because it is easier to keep clean. We have a lot of trees in our backyard with leaves that end up covering our patio. But you could certainly keep your cart or bin outdoors to make things even more accessible!
Our cart is set up right near our doors leading to our patio! It is so easy to grab our items off the cart on the way outside!
Organizing the Outdoor Dining Station
Now you will need to decide what to keep on the bar cart! This is the fun part! It’s necessary to think about what you use when you eat outside. Before I had a bar cart, I just kept a bin with our plates and silverware near the door. Now, as time as gone on and I have a big cart, we keep a lot of items handy. It really makes it so easy to have a casual dinner outside or to host a bigger crowd.
I like to have a lot of small bowls and platters handy. It is so much easier to grab from this bin then to dig around my cabinets for all of our serving pieces. This SODA bin was from World Market a few years ago and I love it! Most of the other items in this bin have come from the dollar store and Target! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be stocked for summer entertaining!!
One of my favorite serving pieces are these burger baskets I got a few years ago. They are perfect for serving hot dogs and burgers to the kids! I found basket liners from Amazon for easy clean up.
Outdoor Dining Bar Cart Essentials
Disposable or Melamine Plates
Large Tray (to carry all of serving pieces)
Sun Tan Lotion
Salt and Pepper Containers
Styling the Summer Dining Station
Finally, I added a few fun touches to our bar cart. This inexpensive Letterboard has come in very handy! The United States sign came from Target.
There are so many directions you can take with styling a summer cart. Some of the same ideas I talked about in last week’s summer decor post could be used for a summer bar cart.
Summer Bar Cart Themes
Tropical + Flamingo
Lemonade/Yellow Color Theme
So MANY fun ideas!!
I usually modify our cart as the season goes along and I figure out what we use or need the most for our outdoor meals! This dining station was really a GAMECHANGER for us when it came to eating outside. It’s perfect for bigger scale entertaining but also when, most typically, it’s just our own family eating dinner!
Do you and your family like to eat outside all summer long?