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Outdoor Entertaining + How I Styled My Bar Cart

One of the main things I love about this house is our backyard, and now that the weather has warmed up, we are spending a LOT of time outdoors.

I love to entertain on our deck, but I don’t have a table out there. Instead, we have a large seating area with a coffee table and a few end tables. It’s great for conversation and light bites, but it means there isn’t a lot of space to put food and drinks.

Last summer, I resorted to bringing a large folding table up from our basement for food and beverage service, but that was kind of a pain to bring in and out, and it wasn’t the kind of table I wanted to leave out all the time. Finally, I got smart, and I ordered a serving cart from Wayfair.

wearing: pink tee // white shorts

I can’t believe I never thought of it before! It’s perfect for serving drinks and a basket of snackbags to grab and go, and that frees up our coffee table and end tables for the apps and snacks.

The bad news is, my exact serving cart is no longer available, and I couldn’t find anything quite like it, but I rounded up a bunch of options below.

Shop Bar Carts:

Since I got my serving cart at the end of last season, it’s still a work in progress to figure out how to use the space most efficiently. I took these pictures before I used it last weekend, and I kind of wish I’d waited to show you more exactly how I used it, but I think you can get the gist!

Clearly, I have a bit of a lemon theme going on back there. That started with the accent pillows for our deck furniture. I have the Directoire set from Ballard Designs, and our cushions are the Spa color, which is a really pretty light teal blue. They actually match my coffee mugs perfectly.

We accessorized with throw pillows in the Lemon/White Stripe, Amal Spa, and Lisbon Citrus patterns, which I love. Happily, it’s all still available! I wasn’t sure if they carried the same patterns year to year.

Unfortunately, they didn’t bring my garden stool back this year.

In keeping with the lemon theme, I found this kitchen towel set at Amazon to hang on the side of the bar cart. I also picked up this set (shown below.)

I wanted to add some flowers, and while I have a lot of live plants on my deck, I went ahead and used faux tulips for my bar cart. I like how the colors work with the other items, and I don’t have to worry about them dropping leaves or petals into the drinks.

The stack of melamine app plates (purchased a few years ago at Target) ended up going on the coffee table, and I brought out paper cups that I picked up at Target last weekend. I found the cutest citrus pattern that complements my towels and other decor, so I stocked up on paper plates, cups, and lunch napkins for future use.

I also ordered these yellow chevron paper straws, mostly as an accessory, although I suppose people can use them if they want. Then I filled in with a few things from around the house. The metal windmill is a Home Goods find.

I recently picked up this outdoor pitcher at Ballard. It has the look of mottled sea glass, but it’s actually made of shatterproof acrylic, so it’s pool-friendly.

I put the beverage tub on the bottom, along with the utensil caddy.

We have a big metal drink tub that we use sometimes, but I like this plastic one better because you can easily see what’s in it. Plus, my metal drink tub is too big to set on the bar cart, and it’s also the same color. We’ll probably end up using both when we have bigger gatherings. It’s better for cans of soda, anyway.

We didn’t really need silverware for the light apps I served, so I ended up replacing the utensil caddy with a big bowl of single-serve chips. That went over really well. Even though I had apps available, people really loved the individual snack bags.

So even though we altered a bit for “real life” I still love how it all looked styled like this. And now I have those citrus patterned napkins to add to my silverware basket, which will brighten up that bottom shelf.

So that’s about it! It’s so much more fun to entertain when you don’t have to scramble at the last minute to gather the things you need, so I’m happy to finally have this set-up. I’ll link everything below for easy shopping, if you like anything.

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photos: Alison Cornell

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22 thoughts on “Outdoor Entertaining + How I Styled My Bar Cart

  1. Your whole setup looks great! I’m not an outdoor entertainer but wish I was so I could get all of it!

  2. Such a fun post! I think I might be buying that acrylic pitcher and possibly the stripe/lemon towel set! I’ll have to wait a bit later and hope they don’t sell out since I’m moving next week and the pitcher might not make it here in time. 🤞

  3. OMGOODNESS. Love it!! Makes me want to go out & get the deck pressure washed and decorated. Well not really…..it’s such a big job, but I love that bar cart. Something to think about adding to my ever growing array of deck accessories/furniture. My husband DETESTS having to find places to store all the “stuff” at the end of the season…..

    1. Yeah, fortunately we have a huge basement, lol! Also, this cart folds up – so sometimes I put it away in my hall closet, if i don’t want it taking up room on the deck.

  4. Is that the same silverware basket? It looks different. I love the one you have on your cart. Do you think you could style an indoor bar cart similar to this? Or could you do a post styling an indoor bar cart? I need ideas. Thanks!

  5. Love the setup you have, will have to order the lemon towels. Off the deck subject–do you know where you got the pink top you’re wearing in this post? Thanks a bunch!

  6. Looks great! We have a cart very similar. It’s iron, an antique passed on to us. We have a round table and 4 chairs that match. It’s called an ice cream parlor set. They are painted bright red!

  7. Living in Southern California, we use our backyard year-round and one item we added a few years ago is a small outdoor refrigerator. We had it built into our barbecue bar and it’s so nice to have. My sons and their friends are always hanging out outside watching TV etc. and they can grab whatever they want from there. My older son has become quite the barbecuer, and does a lot of the grilling for us so he keeps his favorite sauces in the outside fridge.
    I need a new non-glass pitcher to use outdoors so I’m going to order the one you’ve linked- it’s perfect!

    1. That’s a great idea. Wish we had a spot for one. We do have a drink fridge in the kitchen, and the guys know where to find that. How fortunate that your son likes to cook! I need a kid to take an interest in cooking.

  8. Love this set up! If there’s a Home Goods store near you, you can sometimes find great outdoor things (Like bar carts and outdoor dishes) there for good prices! I’ve done almost my entire outside set up from Home Goods. Living in Texas, we are outdoors most of the year. 🙂

  9. I love it! Do you take everything off and set it back up each time, or do you leave some things on it all the time?

  10. Wow!!! You did a great job. Love the pop of yellow with the light teal. I love yellow. It’s so cheery. Love your deck set. The bar cart is such a great idea. Lots of fun to come for you guys.

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