The perfect tray is your start to assembling an impressive portable minibar

Who needs a crowd to have a party? If your summer plans include more time at home with fewer people, you can still entertain like a pro. It’s all in the accessories … and the drinks, of course.

Summertime calls for non-alcoholic beverages and cocktails that quench thirst and lighten the mood. Who doesn’t love a fruity frozen drink or an icy mixed cocktail on a hot afternoon? Those who don’t drink alcoholic beverages can enjoy the mocktail versions of these summer standbys.

Photo Cred: Andi Mans

If you are preparing drinks for two or twenty, a sturdy, well-designed, and attractive tray is your foundation for a portable people-pleasing libation station.

This summer, round up your favorite outdoor-friendly glasses, add some classic bartending accessories, make room for a classy ice bucket, grab your serving tray, and let the fun begin.

Stock your homemade bar with all your favorites

Does your home bar need a seasonal refresher? Perhaps the dreary spring left you a little depleted? One silver lining of our new delivery-based economy is that you can now stock up on alcohol online, and it will be at your door the same day! Well, in some areas at least.

Photo Cred: Lindsey Ehricht

If restocking is in order for summer, think of lighter, more refreshing drinks, and what it takes to mix up a batch. Gin and vodka are classic year-round options that really shine in summer cocktails, both of the frozen and unfrozen kind. White and rose wines tend to be more suited for warm weather, but a fruity sangria made with a juicy red wine is also satisfying.

Don’t forget mixers, bitters, aperitifs, syrups, lemons, limes, oranges… You could really get carried away. Perhaps you should use two trays. However, you arrange your ingredients, get ready to do some mixing.

Start with the basics

Sometimes the simplest pleasures are the best. Chill a bottle of wine, try out some new craft beers (shandies and wits are great in summer), shake yourself the perfect Gin & Tonic, a Negroni, or a Paloma. Because of the rearranged Triple Crown season, you can always find an excuse to make some Mint Juleps, because the Derby will happen eventually.

If you are entertaining, stock a DIY tray with all the basics and let your guests play bartender. There are many fun cocktail recipe books to add to the tray for those who are truly adventurous (this one is a bit filthy, but sure to get laughs). Not to mention the infinite amount of drink recipes easily found online.

The frozen four +

Whip out the blender and make plenty of ice: it’s frozen drink season. It’s easy to create a variety of frozen drinks with frozen fruit, some alcohol, and your imagination. But if you’d prefer to stick with the tried and true, grab some frozen drink mixers and blend away. Margaritas, Pina Coladas, and Daiquiris of all kinds are sure to please your guests.

You can really have some fun with what people are now calling “adult slushies,” or anything alcoholic blended into an icy froth. Frosé, limeades, and spiked lemonades are just a few suggestions.

There’s always time for wine

While wine is absolutely fine on its own, summer is the time to make some big-batch wine drinks in pitchers, garnished with an impressive array of fruit. Sangrias of all varieties are crowd-pleasers (even if the crowd is very small) and are relatively easy to make.

But why limit your choices? Again, a little imagination or an internet full of recipes can keep you experimenting all summer long. Those pitchers will look absolutely lovely when carried out on your carefully presented tray.

Fun for everyone

For obvious reasons, it’s necessary to have “virgin” versions of fun drinks available for all to enjoy. A quick adjustment to the tray and it can become a transporter of slushies, milkshakes, smoothies, lemonade – anything their little heart’s desire. Add some fun fancy unbreakable stemmed glasses, and the kids can feel special, too.

Presentation is everything

If you can’t hang out at your favorite seaside bar this summer, serve yourself at home in style instead. Make any day a holiday with a celebration on your patio, deck, stoop, or any other bit of outdoors you can find.

Photo cred: Chelsey Lafone, @themamaguideofficial

Take your tray camping or poolside. Put in on the picnic table and watch how impressed your guests are – even if those “guests” live with you full-time.

Add some Decocrated flair

Surround yourself with beautiful décor as you sip, long after summer drinks turn into fall’s Beaujolais. A subscription to Decocrated makes that easier than spiking lemonade. Every three months, you’ll get a wide variety of handpicked items right at your doorstep that will make your home feel revitalized.