The 12 Outdoor Entertaining Essentials That 'Bon Appétit' Editors Swear By

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Outdoor entertaining season is upon us! Time to slap on the sunscreen, fire up the BBQ, and assemble a summer bop-heavy playlist to blast on your Bluetooth speaker. What’s that, you say? Your sole outdoor space is a 3-by-3-foot patch of dead grass or a rusty fire escape that’s technically only supposed to be used in case of an emergency? We can work with that. We’ve rounded up our editors’ favorite outdoor entertaining essentials—from space-saving patio furniture to home decor that can be used outside or in—that will transform any backyard/driveway/patch of park grass, no matter how modest, into the place to be all summer long.

Colorful Sheet Pans 

Sheet pans may be the most utilitarian kitchen tool you can own—unless they come in bright colors like these ones from Great Jones. Truth be told, we love these even more for serving food than we love them for cooking. It’s a bonus that you can make, and serve, your blueberry galette on a matching blueberry sheet tray. But they have all the durability of a boring sheet pan, so unlike your indoor serving pieces, they can take a beating outside. Use these for carrying frozen cocktails out to the patio, for serving poolside snacks, and yeah, for making that galette. 

Great Jones Little Sheet, Set of 2

Great Jones Little Sheet, Set of 2

Colorama Bowls

We love enamelware, but sometimes that classic speckled finish can look a little Maine-cabin-in-the-woods-circa-1932, a great vibe, to be sure, but perhaps not appropriate for every soiree. These bowls feature bubbly, modern color combos like coral and flamingo pink that will brighten up any tabletop. Snag the matching dinner plates and tumblers for a full alfresco dining set.

Departo Folding Café Table

No room for a full-size outdoor dining table? This three-legged café table made of ash, steel, and linoleum folds flat for easy storage and comes with a leather strap so you can hang it out of sight when not in use.

folding table in light ash color

Departo Folding Cafe Table

Solo Stove Fire Pit

What outdoor bash is not improved by a fire feature? Senior commerce editor MacKenzie Chung Fegan got her mom a Solo Stove last year after tiring of excuses about how it was “too cold” to host friends in the backyard and therefore needed to hang indoors during a pandemic. The Bonfire—Solo Stove’s medium-size fire pit—is dead simple to use, throws great heat, and is almost entirely smokeless. Although the Bonfire isn’t suitable for grilling, it’s perfect for roasting weenies or toasting marshmallows for s’mores.

Patio Folding Chairs

Because you can always use extra seating, especially in cheery green. These lightweight chairs fold flat and are won’t rust, so no need to worry about passing summer thunderstorms. 

Armo Folding Patio Dining Chair

Skeem Design Citronella Candle

These triple-wicked candles smell so good that editor in chief Dawn Davis would still use them even if they didn’t keep mosquitoes away. That they contain citronella, a natural repellent made from lemongrass, is icing on the cake. Dawn is partial to the sea salt and eucalyptus scents, which keep her outdoor area bug-free for up to 80 hours.

Stargazer Garden Lights

String lights can transform even the drabbest outdoor space into something a little lovelier, but if your backyard really needs help, reach for a multicolored set. These 21 LED bulbs come in a spectrum of warm hues from cantaloup to tomato red. (Note that the compatible light socket strand for these bulbs is sold separately.)

string lights with colorful bulbs for outdoor use

DuraClear Tritan Double Old-Fashioned Glasses

Nothing ruins a pool party like a minefield of broken glass, so stick to drinkware that won’t shatter. This set of six multicolored glasses is made of super durable Tritan plastic, and they’re also dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, and won’t cloud or discolor.

Color tinted rocks style glasses

DuraClear Tritan Double Old-Fashioned Glasses

Permasteel 80-Quart Rolling Cooler Cart

When former social media manager Emily Schultz is expecting a crowd, she wheels out this bar cart/cooler that can keep 110 bottles of beer and cans of the White Claw flavor of her choice (it’s black razz) cold for up to 36 hours. She loves that it has a built-in bottle opener and cap catcher. That means she isn’t sweeping up errant bottle caps post-party.

Pineapple Stool

This is a stool shaped like a pineapple. Fifteen inches high and made of molded resin, it’s fit for outdoor use but would also look pretty fab as a living room side table. Use it as extra seating for when a friend brings a surprise plus-one to your dinner party or to hold a serving tray of sliced pineapple. Meta! The perfect conversation starter.

Utilitario Mexicano Tumblers

Former BA art director Christa Guerra purchased these handmade aluminum tumblers in Mexico as a “gift for her boyfriend,” but somehow they’ve found a permanent home in her picnic bag. They’re her on-the-go wine glasses, but they’re also cute enough for use at home as part of a real table setting. Christa recommends grabbing a few in different colors so the guests at your next outdoor party can remember whose cup is whose.

Utilitario Mexicano Aluminum Tumblers

URI Portable Table Lamp

Daylight hours during summer are longer, but they’re not infinite—so make sure your outdoor entertaining lighting plan is in place before nightfall. This rechargeable lamp delivers up to 20 hours of gentle light and can be dimmed or brightened as the mood requires. Set it on a picnic table or hang it from a tree branch by its colorful handle. Also cute for camping!

cute rechargeable lantern with micro-usb port