Porch Perfect

Tools, tunes and tips for the successful summer dinner party. 

Because we all know the devil is in the details, here, we offer ideas to put the finishing touch on your outdoor entertaining this season. A funky playlist, ambiance-enhancing décor, sweet-smelling natural bug spray and more will make guests want to linger long into the night.

Get Your Groove On
What’s a party without the right soundtrack? Our favorite playlist keeps things moving.

Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Saturday Night Fish Fry, Louis Jordan

Me and My Gin, Dinah Washington

Dixie Chicken, Little Feat

Oysters, Tori Amos

Banana Pancakes, Jack Johnson

Green Onions, Booker T. & The MG’s 

Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy, Kelis

Cheeseburger in Paradise, Jimmy Buffett

Struttin’ with Some Barbecue, Willie Nelson

Party Toolkit
Must-have items and thoughtful additions for any gathering.

Curly Maple Bottle Opener Blanc Creatives, $95 BlancCreatives.com

Paint + Petals Apron Anthropologie, $36 Anthropologie.com

Resin Bocce Ball Premium Set Viva-Sol, $119.99 Viva-Sol.com

Green Bamboo Candelabra Dana Gibson, $235 DanaGibson.com

Natural Bug Spray Apothec, $11 ShopApothec.com

Soundcast VG1 Speaker Soundcast, $149.99 Crutchfield.com

Secret Sauce 
Catering pros share their tips for making sure that your summer party is smashing.

Tracey LoveHill & Holler, Charlottesville

Make sure the drinks stay ice cold and are readily accessible using a vintage washtub for wine, beers and seltzers. Set up a small wood table beside the wash tub for glasses and bottle openers, and pre-batch a signature cocktail in a glass swing-top bottle to add to the bar with a label or sign describing contents.

Walter Wilkes, White Dog Bistro, Mathews

Spend a few minutes listing all the things that might go wrong and create a simple emergency plan for each. Where will you retreat to if it rains? What to do if the band or a heat lamp trips a circuit breaker? How will you handle a hungry dog on the loose? When you’ve done your due diligence before the big day, you can rest easy knowing all will go according to plan.

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