With the threat of snow finally behind us along with extended winter weather, the lush green foliage around Southeastern Wisconsin has exploded. You can almost hear it growing as the trees and plants are trying to catch up. The upcoming Memorial Day holiday became a federal holiday in 1971, originated to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day also marks the winding down of the school year, graduations, and the unofficial start of summer entertaining season.

With businesses and schools closed for the long weekend and parades scheduled for Main Streets across the U.S.A., this holiday weekend is usually filled with friends and family gatherings. Whether or not your family plans to host this weekend, it is the perfect time to dust off the grill, sweep off the patio and start thinking about the summer entertaining to come. Some initial thought and prep work early in the season allows for more turnkey guest preparation with each successive gathering.

A few things to think about for the start of outdoor entertaining season:

Lighting (for both ambiance and safety):

Inside and out, lighting sets the mood and adds warmth and dimension to any space. Consider the magical aura twinkle lights add to trees, awnings and trellises, as if it were a holiday or celebration. And while lit pathways is a necessary safety precaution, creative lighting is just as effective and easy to incorporate, enhancing the landscaping. Having an extra supply of simple glass votives allows for an immediate atmospheric boost as the sun goes down.

Seating (dining vs. relaxing):

Ideally, separate seating areas should exist throughout the property to maximize the enjoyment and utility of you labor of love. Carving out specific areas for relaxation, conversation and dining dictates different seating needs and arrangements. Comfort is the key for areas of relaxation, and investing in some good outdoor cushions for these targeted seating areas invites lingering guests and conversation.

Inclement or Uncomfortable Weather (always a concern in Wisconsin):

Having solid patio umbrellas or awnings strategically covering outdoor dining or seating areas makes summer entertaining more flexible. Some additional practical items to have readily accessible to guests, which may extend an evening outdoors, include: lightweight blankets, hand held umbrellas, flashlights, bug spray, citronella candles, and a store of cut wood for outdoor fireplaces and firepits. And when things heat up, having misters or an ice bucket with chilled hand towels is a nice touch for steamy and humid afternoons.

Stocked Bar:

Featuring a seasonal drink is always a fun feature while entertaining guests. However, many people have set preferences and are not that adventurous. Therefore, consider having the standbys on hand, a full array of mixers and juices and cut fruit.


It is a mistake to not think about music until moments before guests arrive, since music contributes so much to a gathering by truly setting the tone of the event. Now is the time to explore any upgrades and enhancements to outdoor audio systems, to enhance the outdoor entertaining experience.

Outdoor dining accessories:

With so many beautiful options of unbreakable and durable melamine dishes and acrylic glasses, outdoor entertaining is even more stress free. High quality tableware and glassware that looks like it should be fragile, is offered in several bright colors and patterns, adding a flair to any table.