If you’re thinking about outdoor entertaining this summer, this year it’s all about nostalgia. From oil cloth tablecloths to cherry dishtowels, it’s all of the fun we remember from backyard gatherings growing up, but with the most hip, practical and up-to-date home accessories around today. On NBC’s “Today” show, Charla Krupp of In Style magazine, shares some hints for creating a fun, old-fashioned barbecue. The idea here is that no one gets stuck behind the oven, BBQ or sink. Everyone’s out in the yard, now. Read some of her tips below.
THE CONCEPT: Baby Boomers who now have children want to recreate those backyard get-togethers with cousins that seemed to last all day. It’s only too easy now to fulfill those nostalgic fantasies with all of the ’50s-inspired outdoor entertaining accessories available at stores like Crate & Barrel. Think oil cloth tablecloths, clever “bee” food covers, galvanized aluminum coolers and ice cream containers. We’ve got it all!
We’ve created a table for adults, and one for the kids.
THE ADULT TABLE: Our table and chairs are from Crate & Barrel — the Carmel dining ensemble (table and four chairs) $699.00, chair cushion in red, $29.95.
The look is all about retro chic, and we decked our chairs with sunny-colored striped ticking pillows. These are 20-inch squares from Pottery Barn, $18 each for the cover; $14 for the down insert.
The item that really gets the vintage vibe going is the oil cloth tablecloth. We love the cherry pattern. They come in a variety of retro designs. Best of all: Just wipe with a sponge for easy clean-up; no washing or dry cleaning necessary. We have an 84-inch cloth on the adult table ($25) and the same size for the kids table. For stores, call Oilcoth International: 323-344-3967 or visit Oilcloth.com.
Plastic dishes are the way to go. If these really get trashed, you can just toss them out. The acrylic dishes we selected are from Williams-Sonoma. The plates come in a set of four for $28 — invidividual bowls — set of four, $56.
Tote all of your glasses to the table in a cool wire glass caddy, $12, from O.R.E. Available at LA’s Zipper: 323-951-0620. For glasses, we loved the Trumpet Acrylic Barware from Crate & Barrel. They come in six different colors and are $3.50 each; they’re dishwasher safe, too. (Available on www.crateandbarrel.com.)
For a fun drink, we have a recipe for a Frosty Freeze in In Style which you can do with or without vodka! You can put them in acrylic Bali Margarita glasses — $2.95 at Crate & Barrel. And if you’re making Margaritas, make them look professional: Rim your margarita glass with a store-bought drink rimmer. Nantucket OffShore Seasonings drink rimmers are $6 each. Call 5088-994-1300 for shopping information.
For napkins, make it easy on yourself by using a cotton dishcloth as a napkin. They are big enough to cover any spills and you just throw them in the washing machine when you’re done. The cherries dishcloths from Crate & Barrel go perfectly with our retro chic theme — set of six, $9.95.
Put more adorable cherries on your table: vintage cherry juice glasses hold tea light candles. Glasses, inspired from an actual 1930s antique pattern, are 95 cents each at Crate & Barrel. Votive tea light candles: $5.95 for a bag of fifty. Here’s a tip: Don’t skimp on the candles. Everyone looks better in candlelight.
Tenting your food is all important when you’re entertaining outside. You want to keep those bees and pesky mosquitos off! For $4.95, you can buy a 17-inch nylon mesh food tent that will cover your bbq chicken much better than an upside down china plate. It also looks better because your guests can still be tempted by your glorious food. And for your homemade potato salad and cole slaw, we love the cheery earthenware striped yellow bowls ($26.95). Cover them with a sense of humor: Bumble Bee food covers — large, $4.95; small, $3.95. All of these are at Crate & Barrel.
For veggie crudites or chips and guacamole, here are the best looking bowls that won’t break: Wheatstraw chip and dip bowls from Crate & Barrel ($9.95) come in cool colors: orange, teal or red. Inside, use plastic bowls that go right into the dishwasher ($6.95 each).
To make carrying out everything from the house easier: Check out the handy flatware caddy in galvanized aluminum, $9.99 at Pottery Barn. And, the distressed wooden trays come in basic primary colors: yellow, blue and red. From Pottery Barn, $16.99.
THE KIDS TABLE Our low table is actually one that folds up and fits in a bag for easy toting. Crate & Barrel Table in a Bag, $34.95, available at crateandbarrel.com.
Let the kids sit on pillows. You don’t have to ask anyone to bring extra chairs. Banana Republic has woven pillows with fringe, $30.
Because kids need a tablecloth underneath the table to protect your deck, patio or grass, we placed a Big Apple Oilcloth table cloth underneath. It’s $25 from Oilcloth International. For stores, call Oilcoth International: 323-344-3967 or visit oilcloth.com.
Prevent the sun from warming up icy drinks with bright carafes. The translucent plastic houses a double wall glass vacuum, guaranteeing that your lemonade will keep cool up to six hours. And, it’s protected from thirsty bugs, too. Avanti Hot/Cold carafes, $50. These come in blue/lime, red/silver, black/silver, silver/blue, blue/silver, silver/black; and they hold 1.3 liters. $50 each. To order 800-835-9779; or visit their Web site: www.dextelle.com
Make dessert easy. Let the kids make their own chipwich sandwiches — just a scoop or two of ice cream between chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies and roll the sides in sprinkles. Kids love activities! Tip: Scoop the ice cream out of the container ahead of time, place it in a decorative Aluminum Pint Ice Cream container and stick it in the freezer. Take it out ten minutes before you want to serve dessert. Container with scoop (quart $75) available at Zipper.
GAMES FOR THE KIDS Just place a Tic Tac Toe towel on the grass. The velour towel is the board and it comes with big Xs and Os. The set, $24.99, is available at Tales and Toys in Highland Park, Illinois. Call 847-433-2231 or visit the Web site: www.talesandtoys.com. Other ideas for kids activities that fit the nostalgic theme: There’s a water filled hoola hoop out now, and a violet butterfly catcher. At night, let the kids collect fireflys.
OTHER SCENE SETTERS Let the kids take their turn on the Barbados rainbow hammock, by Byer of Maine, $60.To order, call: 800-338-0580.
Haul all your drinks out, and keep them cool, in a stunning, 54-quart, stainless steel cooler, $99 by Coleman. And it’s lightweight. To order: 800-835-3278, or go to Coleman.com.
Don’t forget to disinvite pests. The latest way to de-bug: The Insector Bug Collector UV light from Sharper Image, $70, 800-344-4444, or go to www.sharperimage.com.
And, here’s the latest in bug off fashion: You can wear The Mosquito Repellent Scarf from Demeter Fragrances which keeps bugs off you in style. This silk chiffon scarf is treated with Demeter’s Natural Bug Repellent which has proven to be successful with golfers. The scarf can be hand-washed in water or dry cleaned up to 30 times before the protective oils disappear. And then, you can have the scent reapplied by sending it back to the company. It’s $130 and can be ordered in almost any color. To order, call 800-482-0422.
Let there be lanterns! Shed a little night magic with sea grass and plastic woven lantern garden stakes by Bermuda, $12. Or, string them up: small, $8; large, $10. For stores, call Design Ideas, 800-426-6394. For the candlelight inside, you can buy tea light candles (50 in a bag for $5.95) from Crate & Barrel.
Here’s a fun centerpiece idea: Get pots of herbs, put them in pretty containers and place them on the table. Guests can pick off their own dill, oregano, parsley or basil and add it to the salads. If you prefer to seat guests with placecards, write names on vegetable or plant identifiers from the local garden shop. Stick them on either side of the pots of herbs.
HERE’S A FUN RECIPE: Roasted chicken:
Marinade overnight in fresh orange, lemon and lime juices with a little honey.
Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees and finish on the grill.
Charla Krupp of In Style magazine is a beauty and fashion contributor to “Today.” For more backyard barbecue ideas, style tips and a look at the latest trends, you can check out the latest issue of In Style magazine, or visit their Web site at: www.InStyle.com