The outdoor meal is one of the more pleasant hallmarks of spring and summer. But while it's tempting to simply transfer standard indoor dishes out -- or worse, resort to earth-unfriendly disposables -- al fresco dining is best served by casual, reusable, and outdoor-ready tableware.
Look for dinnerware in hard plastics such as melamine or acrylic, which are virtually nonbreakable but also lightweight -- perfect for picnics and beachside snacks. Bright, cheery colors get everyone in the spirit of the season, and it's fun to mix and match patterns and solids.
In addition to the basics -- plates, bowls, drinkware, and flatware -- don't forget essential summer accessories such as chip-and-dip sets, dessert cups and spoons for ice cream or fruit, and a pitcher for fresh lemonade or ice tea.
The Martha Stewart Summer Entertaining Collection includes melamine and acrylic tableware and matching beachware and is available at Macy's.