How To: Nautical Backyard BBQ Party

Transform the most landlocked backyard into a beach-inspired retreat for this All-American barbecue party.

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Party in Five: Nautical Backyard Barbecue

With the right nautical elements, your decor can transform even the most landlocked backyard into a fun, beach-y destination.


To host this party, you'll need just five essential ingredients: a build-your-own-burger bar, pinwheel favors, seashells, DIY paper cones and watermelon wedges.

Seashells by the Seashore

If you can swing it, set up this party by a body of water –– a pool, a lake, the ocean or even some strategically placed sprinklers with a Slip 'n Slide will do. No matter where you are, a classic palette of cobalt blue and cream stripes will give this gathering a timeless beachfront feel.

It's a Shore Thing

Create a simple but impactful beach vignette with inexpensive play box sand and just a few shells from your local craft store. Pour the sand and shells into a glass hurricane vase and top with a simple white pillar candle, which will add to your party’s ambiance when the sun sets. Larger shells and starfish can be used elsewhere on the table.

Roped In

Natural-colored rope (available at most hardware stores) adds a nautical touch to this buffet. Simply wind the rope around the other decorative elements to add texture and dimension to the table.

Pails of Plenty

Present popcorn in a galvanized tin pail with a scoop to evoke sandcastle-building imagery and allow guests to serve themselves.

Pop Star

Surprise guests with a sophisticated take on a classic boardwalk snack: popcorn dressed in rosemary-infused oil. Paper cones further channel that casual seaside spirit and reinforce your color scheme.


Download this DIY template to create your own navy-, cobalt- and cream-colored paper cones.

Get the Recipe: Popcorn with Rosemary Infused Oil

Sparkle More

Fill small tin pails with sand to hold an assortment of pinwheels and sparklers. The centerpiece adds height and interest to the table, while the pinwheels and sparklers make great favors for your guests to enjoy during the event.

Soda-Shop Sips

An assortment of classic sodas iced in a galvanized tin fits the relaxed style of this event. Guests can enjoy root beer, cream soda, orange soda and red pop from fun vintage bottles. You could easily add bottled beer or water to the menu, as well.

BYOB Bar

Build-your-own-burger bar, that is! The pickiest and hungriest of eaters will be happy when they get to build their own entrees. Offer a veggie option, a homemade beef patty and even a few strips of thick-cut bacon for maximum enjoyment.

Get the Recipe: The Burger Bar

The Freshest Fixins

Three types of cheese, thick-cut fresh tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms are but a few of the options for a stellar burger bar. Stack ingredients in rows for an artful presentation and serve mustard, pickles and mayonnaise in simple glass jars instead of their store-bought containers for a gourmet feel.

See More Photos: 11 Outside-the-Bun Burger Toppings

Supercharged Settings

Add an elegant tone to your table by placing thick wicker chargers beneath disposable bamboo plates. The best part? You don't need to clean them after the meal (aside from the errant drip here or there).

Mad for Melons

Simple watermelon wedges sprinkled with sea salt make for a refreshing snack or light dessert. Line them on a modern white tray to add a bright pop of color and a graphic visual to the buffet.

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