Party Patio and a Grilled Cheese Feast

E and I LOVE sitting outside (one non-negotiable thing about every place we’ve lived in was that it at least had to have a balcony or patio) and during the warmer months we eat pretty much every meal on the patio. Our current place has a great one, which we spent a lot of time last year doing up – E built a fire pit from scratch for my birthday, I bought an awesome grill for his, and new patio furniture. He took out dead plants, re-planted others into better places, and put up a few trellis’ to add privacy from the neighbors.

Throughout last summer we hosted quite a few BBQ’s for friends and family, though none as much fun as the one we did for the boys’ baby shower (which was scheduled well before their due date, but ended up being two weeks after their birth). We pitched a tent from Home Depot, pulled out the dining table to its full capacity and grabbed a few pop-up tables from the neighbors to give ourselves plenty of room to spread a feast. Burgers? Check. Hot Dogs? Check. Lots of homemade side dishes lovingly prepared by our moms? Check!

This year, I’ve hunted high and low for ways to 1) set up the patio to both accommodate our guests and provide places for the boys’ to do their cake smash/bubble baths and 2) food that will be simple, but good for guests ranging in age from 1 to 75.

In terms of patio decoration and set-up, I found this great article on HGTV’s site: 13 Party Ready Outdoor Spaces which has given me a few ideas (stringing paper lanterns across the back wall of our townhouse? Plywood over saw horses as tables? – yep, doable).

The other part – you know, the all important party food – has been a little more difficult to figure out. The main problem is that E and I are total foodies and don’t really want to just order pizza’s or do hamburgers again.

In regards to this, the boys actually gave me a bit of inspiration the other day. They got to try their first grilled cheese sandwiches at the end of April (National Grilled Cheese Month) and LOVED IT. Seriously, could not get enough. I used rye sandwich bread with sliced colby-jack cheese and grilled it with just a touch of olive oil in the pan to add a golden crust. Served up with a cup of broccoli florets, they were totally happy campers. In honor of that, I’m thinking that an assortment of grilled cheese sandwiches would make an awesome birthday feast.

Perhaps I’m not too picky about my grilled cheese, but it’s never bothered me eating them at room temperature, especially if the cheese is good (American cheese doesn’t count. Blech), so making them ahead of time and having them set out on trays for everyone doesn’t seem terrible. In fact, a lot of the toppings I’ve found could be prepped the day before (slice and shred the cheeses, roast the veggies, mix up pesto’s, etc), so all that I’d need to do day of is actually grill them. And since both of our moms will be in town (Yay for built-in babysitters), I’ll have the day to prep and set-up for the party. This could totally work. I found this amazing site with almost an entire month full of amazing grilled cheese ideas. These are a few of my favorites and one’s I either want to use or perhaps use for inspiration:

Cauliflower, Fontina and Blue Cheese Grilled Cheese

Super Food and Fresh Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Quattro Formaggio Grilled Cheese

Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese

French Onion Grilled Cheese

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese Basic

Don’t they all look amazing? And I think if I can actually pull this off, it’ll be a fun birthday feast for everyone. What do you guys think? Do you think it could work?

Penny for your thoughts?