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Outdoor entertaining season is one of the best times of the year. The weather is usually perfect, the sun is out longer, and everyone is in a more cheerful mood. Whether you want to host friends or simply enjoy your backyard with your family this year, there are so many options for tableware and serveware to instantly elevate your next al fresco meal. This can get overwhelming with the variety of options, from upscale to casual and everything in between. Add in storage issues (not everyone has room to store lots of different outdoor goods year-round) and it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
So, whether you’re looking for an elegant affair or easy cleanup, here are some of the best outdoor serving pieces that will make outdoor entertaining far more fun.
Best Pitcher: Prodyne Fruit Infusion Flavor Pitcher
A great pitcher makes all the difference when having a party. Sure, water and other beverages are fine, but a little fruit infused water makes an impression. This Prodyne fruit infusion pitcher is made from BPA-free acrylic and has a removable hollow rod that can be filled with fruits, citrus wedges, herbs, or savories. And not only can you infuse water, but you can also use your imagination and create infused tea, vodka, gin, or other liquids. While the pitcher is durable and can withstand plenty of use, it is recommended that you hand wash it.
Best Reusable Tableware: Aidio Melamine Dinnerware Set
This Melamine tableware is simply stunning and takes any type of outdoor scenario—from eating on the patio to a picnic in the park—up a notch. The goods are white with an elegant gray rim. Not only does it look beautiful, but it performs as well. Melamine is a durable material and resists chipping, scratching, and even breaking. It’s dishwasher safe for easy cleanup, although not microwave safe. And, it’s easily stackable so seasonal storage is no issue. It can also be used indoors—it looks stylish so it's not limited to super-casual affairs—which means you can really get your money's worth.
This set contains 12 pieces, including dinner plates, appetizer plates, and bowls, allowing you to grab all the essentials in one fell swoop.
Best Disposable Tableware: Me&Earth 10-inch Bamboo Disposable Square Plate Set
While reusable tableware is great, there are some times where disposable is the way to go. However, disposable items often get in the way of living more sustainably. This tableware is a great way to combine the two. The bamboo disposable tableware by Me+Earth has a unique look to it, but all of the pieces are made from all-natural fallen areca palm leaves. Microwave safe, the line will completely break down back into the earth’s soil within 60 days. The pack contains 30 plates, 30 forks, and 30 napkins so you’re ready to serve up—and clean up—efficiently.
Best Chip and Dip Tray: Mud Pie Chip Off the Old Block Stacked Chip and Dip Set
Mudpie has a knack for making cute conversational entertainment pieces and this chips and dip set is no exception. The full-sized, sturdy ceramic bowl is adorned with the phrase “chip off the old block,” and the rim is adorned with beautiful white pearl detailing, giving the set a look that can fit an upscale gathering or a less formal one. The dip tray has room for two different types of dip, allowing for choices, and it's elevated. This helps when it comes to spillage and keeping the rest of the chips dip-free. The set also comes with an adorable serving spoon to help you get all the dip out of the tray and into your mouth.
Best Tray: Chicago Metallic Taco Party Multi-Use Rotating Entertaining Set
While Chicago Metallic’s Taco Party line is amazing for tacos (of course!), the tray can be used for a plethora of other bits and bites. Ice cream parties, hot appetizers, and crudités can all make use of the Taco Party entertaining tray. It includes a 7-cup serving bowl in the center, which is perfect for the main ingredient. The wire rack can hold hard or soft tacos, ice cream cones, crackers, and other bases. Three divided mini trays with room for six fixings round out the circular piece.
The entire Taco Party tray sits on a 15-inch rotating base, which makes it easy for everyone around the table to reach the food. The tray has a soft mat on top to keep everything secure and soft, non-slip feet to keep the tray from moving around on your table. Even better? The bowl, condiment trays, and rack can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Best Drinkware: Libbey Tiki Coupe Cocktail Glasses
Libbey takes outdoor drinking up a notch with its tiki-style outdoor glassware that combines vintage touches with fun, festive flair. The brand has debuted modern coupe glasses and wine glasses with a tiki-style stem; tiki pineapple tumblers for punches or batch cocktails; and tiki split tumblers, each with a different expression. And while all these cups look like a party in your hand, they’re also durable. Lead and BPA-free, these glasses are dishwasher safe and can withstand some shock from dropping, combining an impressive look with quality sippers. All are available in a set of four.
Best Grill to Table Cookware: Finex 10-inch Cast Iron Grill Pan
Cast iron is one of the best types of cookware for use on the grill. And, it makes all the sense in the world when cooking up things like dips, chili, and other shared apps or sides. Just like oven-to-table goods for inside, grill-to-table cookware for outside makes sense, too. Finex Cast Iron is not only a staple cookware piece, but it’s also stunning enough to make a splash on the table.
This cast-iron grill pan is available in a variety of sizes, although the 10-inch is perfect for cooking up just enough food without taking up too much room on the table. It comes pre-seasoned for use fresh out of the box and is designed for easy food removal. It comes with a stay-cool, ergonomic handle so food can be shared or passed around the table safely, but the cast iron make-up allows it to retain heat, so your food will stay warm for longer.
Best Outdoor Bar Cart: Cosco Outdoor Living Folding Serving Cart
This folding rolling cart looks fantastic, with no assembly required straight out of the box. Each of the two shelves can support up to 75 pounds, so you can load it up with as much guacamole as you want, or use the cart to haul gardening supplies across the patio. Also great for serving drinks as a makeshift bar for your next backyard party. The whole thing weighs less than 20 pounds, which is substantially lighter than other wooden options and easy to put away when you’re finished or when the temperature drops in the fall.
Best Cooler: Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted
A cooler to keep your beverages frosty in the heat and a reserve of ice so you don’t have to trek back and forth between the deck and the kitchen is a must-have this summer. Few things are as iconic for camping and backyard cookouts as this classic Coleman cooler, which can hold up to 54 quarts (or about 85 cans) and keeps the contents cold for up to four days. You can expect years, if not decades of use out of this cooler. When you’re short on seats, this cooler even doubles as an extra seat, boasting a 250-pound stacking capacity. The cooler is equipped with handles on the sides for carrying and a latch to keep the lid secure.
Best Outdoor Wine Glasses: Juvale 12.5-ounce Unbreakable Shatterproof Plastic Crystal Wine Glass Set, 6-Pack
Just because you’re dining outdoors doesn’t mean you have to settle for disposable plastic cups to enjoy your rosé. The Juvale shatterproof wine glasses are made with tritan plastic, which looks deceptively like actual glass wine glasses at first glance. The set includes six pieces, so you’ll have plenty for you and your closest friends. You can even surprise your friends with a set of these glasses and a bottle of chilled wine (or two) at their next cookout or housewarming. Poolside and hot tub safe, or for camping or a relaxing bath — anywhere glass isn’t ideal, but wine is.
If you're looking for outdoor tableware, the Aidio Melamine Dinnerware Set (view at Amazon) is stylish, durable, and versatile. For those who plan on spending a lot of time outside and want a bar cart that will stand up to the elements and provide a versatile drink-serving space for all your gatherings this season, we recommend the VIVOHome Outdoor Rolling Wicker Bar Cart (view at Amazon).
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Emily Cappiello has been a housewares journalist since 2006. She was an editorial assistant and then a senior editor at trusted housewares trade magazine HomeWorld Business, and she was the executive editor of Gourmet Insider Magazine, a trade publication that focused on the independent housewares audience. She has spent her career testing products, hosting panels, aiding in product development and marketing, and in sales-focused training courses by housewares vendors.