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Barbecue grills are likely still warm from all the outdoor grilling from the recent Memorial Day Weekend, a sure indication that summer is in full swing. During the upcoming summer months there are likely many more outdoor barbecues and parties in the works. So why not spend some time and spruce up the backyard and patio and discover some new ways to entertain family and friends outside these next few months. I found some great ideas I'm excited to share. For even more, log on to our Backyard Entertaining board on Pinterest. 

Fire pits

There is nothing more fun, more cozy and more summer-like than roasting marshmallows or telling tall tales around an open fire. Bringing that cozy feeling to your backyard can be a very simple DIY project. Fire pits can range from fancy, gas-plumbed to super easy like a flower pot that's transformed into a small fire. Whether you want to spend a few hundred dollars or less that $150, there are several fire pit tutorials on Pinterest. With one quick shopping trip, you could be roasting marshmallows within a few short hours. Just remember to check city regulations on open flames where you live. 

Lighting

Want your backyard to be the talk of the neighborhood? Add some beautiful backyard lighting and you'll have people completely enchanted with your landscape. Lighting doesn't have to cost a fortune, either. There are dozens of outdoor lighting options -- some solar, some electrical, some flame-lit. Believe it or not, there are a bunch of beautiful ideas you can do with just a few strings of white twinkle lights. Take your old Christmas icicle lights and wrap them around a hula hoop for a beautiful DIY chandelier. String lights from your patio to your trees to create a lit ceiling. Create some accent lights, too, with beautiful Mason jar luminaries. 

Game on

The best part of a backyard party is playing lawn games with family and friends. While croquet, bocce ball and volleyball are always favorites, try some new larger-than-life games like giant dominoes or Jenga or a great game of Twister. A horseshoe course is pretty easy to create in an old, unused garden. Lawn bowling takes on a whole new meaning when you fill soda bottle "pins" and the ball with glow sticks. Perfect for a great night game everyone can enjoy.

-- Jennifer Durrant, Daily Herald  

Jennifer is the Audience Development Director for the Daily Herald.

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