This summer, more than any other, we’re spending the majority of our time homebound. Even as restaurants start to open their doors, we’ll be spending a whole lot of time dining al fresco in the comfort of our backyards and patios.
Although the circumstances are less than ideal, this is the perfect excuse to spend the time, energy and money sprucing up your outdoor space and making it somewhere you actually want to relax and enjoy a meal or a summer cocktail. You know, finally buy those comfy patio chairs, outdoor dining tables, barbecues, cooking tools and those decorative lights that give you the vacation vibe you’ve been craving.
From comfortable outdoor furniture and shatterproof dining ware to charcoal grills and meat thermometers that help you get the perfect sear and inside temperature, here are the outdoor essentials you’ll need to serve your family unforgettable meals this summer (just don’t forget the bug spray!).
If you’ve spent countless hours scrolling through home furnishing websites in search of the perfect outdoor dining set to fit in your outdoor space you know how tricky it is to find one with all the right bells and whistles. Either they are too expensive, don’t come with cushions, have sharp edges that are almost guaranteed to injure your child in some way, shape or form, or they have terrible reviews. Luckily, this one is an anomaly. It is made from a durable wicker material, has a circular glass table top and an umbrella hole which gives you the option for shade. It comes with four easily stackable chairs (each with their own 2 inch-padded cushion) and it is weather resistant so you don’t have to worry about it fading or deteriorating in the sun and rain. It also has close to a 5-star rating from almost 1200 reviewers!
The struggle to find a cute outdoor dining set that doesn’t look like something you scooped up at a dollar store, but also won’t smash into one thousand tiny pieces all over your patio is real. Luckily, some genius by the name of Justus von Liebig invented melamine, a virtually unbreakable substance that also stands up to fire and heat and looks like the shiny, breakable kind you have tucked away safely in your kitchen cabinets. This material is what you need in an outdoor dining set and this brand has great reviews. It comes in four mix and match colors and you get four dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls. Though it comes in handy for outdoor dining, it can also be used indoors. Think of this as “fancy” dishware for the kids— so much more refined than kids plastics but just as worry-free. Plus, these are top rack dishwasher safe.
Is your favorite charcoal-fired pizza place only open for pick-up this summer? That’s no reason to live without fresh-baked pies. With this portable, table top pizza oven, you can churn out authentic pizza that has that wood-fired flavor straight from the comfort of your own backyard—and in as little as minutes! Hey, if you can’t vacation in Italy, you might as well enjoy pizza that tastes like it was made in the homeland. Though it looks heavy (and massive), this pizza oven weighs just 38 pounds, so you can easily move it from one place to another or pack it up for a road trip or camping adventure. Don’t be fooled by its small and light figure—it packs the power and heat of a larger wood-fire oven. Reviewers are raving about the easy set up, clear directions and the high quality of its construction build.
When shopping for patio furniture, you’ll be hard pressed to find something that comes with an umbrella. This means you’ll have to buy one separately—and they can be pricey, let us just tell you. But it is possible to score a high-quality umbrella that works well for less than $200. This one is just that—and more. It gives you 10.5 feet of coverage and has a weather-resistant finish. It also has a crank lift, which makes it easy to reposition, and a built-in, battery-operated light for when the sun’s gone down but the party’s still going on. It comes in three different colors and weighs less than 30 pounds, so you don’t need to ask your body-building cousin Greg to come over each time you want to move it somewhere new. Oh, and the best part? Wayfair will ship this puppy to your door in a matter of days.
For the ultimate backyard hangout, you are going to need some music—and your iPhone’s speakers simply won’t cut it. The Sonos Move is the speaker to have in your outdoor area. It has a surprisingly deep bass, wide soundscape and True-play tuning that beautifully balances whatever it is you are listening to. It is also completely mobile. Weighing in at just 6 pounds, you can move it around anywhere you’d like. It is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capable and has an Amazon Alexa built right in so it also doubles as your virtual assistant, giving you a quick news check, setting alarms, answering your most burning questions and more. Unlike a regular speaker, this one is made for the outdoors—it is weather resistant and stands up to humidity, rain, dust, snow, you name it. It is also extra durable, with a hard-wearing, shock-resistant case, so no need to worry about accidental drops or bumps.
If you are going to be enjoying a full dining experience outside in the summer heat, you are going to need a cool place to store things—especially beer, wine, hard seltzers, whatever you may be drinking. This one not only keeps 14 gallons worth of beverages and food nice and cool, but it is also straight-up beautiful. It is made from FSC-certified acacia wood and has a close lid that opens and closes softly (no slamming shut) and an integrated drain plug so you don’t have to dump out extra liquids after using it. We’re also into the aluminum bottle opener on the side, which makes cracking open a cold one easy as can be. Last, but certainly not least, there is no assembly required! It comes as is so your partner has no excuse for letting it sit in a box in your garage for the next couple weeks.
Lighting can make a huge difference in the ambiance of your outdoor area. When you’re dining outdoors at a restaurant, they almost always have some sort of outdoor lighting aside from a regular old lamp post to set the mood for your meal. There’s no reason you can’t bring the same vibe to your backyard— and no you don’t want to be using your Christmas tree lighting. You need outdoor string lights like this variety from Bulbrite. It is a perfect and easy way to give your backyard a total makeover in a matter of minutes. It’s amazing how quickly they are able to transform your space into a mini-bistro! The 14′ string features 10 sockets with clear bulbs, that set a classic, refreshing feeling to your patio area. While these lights are meant for outdoor use and can withstand the average rain storm, they can be used indoors as well.
What’s an outdoor dining experience without a place for the kiddos to hangout and eat their hot dogs and hamburgers, so you can eat yours in a totally separate area (in peace, might we add)? This pint-sized picnic bench, clad with an umbrella to protect against those harmful UV rays, is the perfect place to seat your kids while trying to enjoy some peace and quiet (and the wine from Winc). It holds up to six little ones (with a 200-pound weight capacity) and has a no-tool setup, which means it’s basically all put together upon arrival. It’s recommended for littles ages 2 to 8 and is useful for everything from barbecues to birthday parties. There’s no arts & crafts that wouldn’t work well here, either, as you can hose it down before bedtime. If there ever were a place for slime, this may be it.
What’s an outdoor dining experience really without meal-pairing wines at the ready? Skip the trip to your local liquor store (and the crowds that come with it) and instead opt for a wine delivery service that personalizes selections created just for you. That’s Winc, a wine club that has a curated collection of over one hundred wines. You can filter your searching so that you can shop for the exact varietal, region, natural, sustainable, vegan, low sulfur, pairs with pizza and more. As a Winc wine club member, you fill out a short palate profile to assess tastes and preferences, and every month, you will receive a shipment of recommended bottles straight to your door. You also have the option to skip a month (or Ship Now, if you need some bottles, stat), pick your own bottles, and rate the bottles you try to improve future recommendations.
Considering every appliance we own these days is becoming increasingly “smarter,” there is no reason to use an old-school meat thermometer. This one makes cooking your food a fool-proof process. It has two sensors and one probe and can detect the internal temperature of meat all the way up to 212°F. It connects to an app that literally guides you through the cooking process to ensure top-notch results that are consistent every time you cook. It has an advanced estimator algorithm that gives you a ballpark range of how long you will have to cook a certain food and how long that food should rest before you start serving it. It can connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth if it is in an extended range. You can also hook it up to connect to Alexa or monitor your cooking from a computer.
Turns out, you don’t have to spend hundreds or close to thousands of dollars on a grill to give you that amazing outdoor dining experience and flavor. This one has nearly 1700 reviews and a 5-star rating. Though it’s smaller than a full grill, it’s powerful and can hold up to 13 pressed burgers at a given time. It has a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl that keeps heat inside. The lid hook ensures you don’t have to leave it sitting on the ground or some other piece of outdoor furniture—it just hangs out on top. It has a one-touch cleaning system that makes cleaning up the plated steel cooking grate actually easy (if you’ve never cleaned a grill just know that this is a pretty impressive feature). We love this for small patios or common yards as well as for you cooks who do not want to mix veggie grilling with meat grilling, this one’s perfect for the separation.
Looking for more ways to spruce up your spot? Check out these home and kitchen essentials.