Outdoor decor

Mark the start of summer with a

Memorial Day party

It's a holiday that means something different to everyone.

For the patriotic, it's the day to observe those who serve in our armed forces. For students, it marks the end of school and beginning of summer. Lifeguards know the day as the start of their busy season. Retailers use the day as a time for mega sales. And to fashionistas, it means it's now OK to wear white pants.

No matter where you fall in the list above, Memorial Day is universally known as the perfect day for a cookout. This year, take a few of these tips and suggestions to make that backyard barbecue one to remember.

Outdoor decor

Memorial Day is a time to pay tribute to the individuals who have served in the U.S. armed forces, and outdoor diningware trends reflect the holiday's meaning.

With its New England crab-boil feel, the Party Ware collection, pictured below, from Pottery Barn is ideal for Memorial Day cookouts. Made of steel with a smooth enamel finish, the plates are durable for outdoor dining. Available in a range of colors, including the signature red, white and blue, the set includes dinner and salad plates, bowls and a colander. Serving bowls, condiment bowls and mini pails are also available.

The Pottery Barn collection also features an essential for cool beverages: an ice bucket and stand. Offered in the same finish and color schemes as the plates, the bucket is a classy touch for a finished look.

No matter how attractive the dinnerware is, eating while surrounded by a swarm of bugs makes for a less than festive meal. Be sure to set up a few St. Petersburg Bamboo Solar Tiki Torches, Off citronella candles or the Stinger Mosquito Killer to repel the 'squiters. All three bug-zapping methods are available at Target.

While they may not work double-duty like the tiki torches, Japanese lanterns and bulb lights add an extra touch of pizzazz after the sun goes down. Shell-stringed bulb lights available at Bed, Bath and Beyond, for example, give a near-the-ocean feel. The extra long cords contain 30 shell lights per string, and are safe for indoor and outdoor use.

If you're looking for a more overt tropical feel, opt for red-and-green grape twinkle lights, also available at Bed Bath and Beyond. The colorful strings feature six grape clusters per cord, with 25 lights in a cluster.

King of the grill

No Memorial Day would be complete without a smokin' grill, be it a

heavy-hitting mega grill, or a portable model.

The Weber Genesis E-320 is the grill of grills and can handle just about any barbecuing request. The gas grill includes three seamless, stainless steel burners and an electronic crossover ignition system, six tool holders, an enclosed tank

storage area, precision fuel gauge and two stainless steel work surfaces.

The total cooking surface measures 507 square inches, and a warming rack measures 130 square inches. Adding to the grill's distinct look are painted blue steel doors and porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates. The grill is sold at area home stores.

The truth is, though, size doesn't matter. Take the George Foreman Stainless Steel Portable Propane Grill. This grill is compact enough to be used by apartment dwellers and occasional grillers, but is mighty enough for the hardcore grillmeister.

With 215 square inches of grilling surface and a 108-square-inch warming rack, the grill provides plenty of room for extra-large steaks and burgers galore. Oversized handles make it portable and easy to carry, and the polished, stainless-steel surface is tough but easy to clean. The grill is sold at area home stores.

The difference between a real barbecue master and an amateur griller isn't in the grill - it's all in the tools. The Kitchen 101 Grill Set gives barbecue gurus all the accessories they need to be a true king of the grill. A barbecue spatula, fork, tongs and mitt, as well as eight skewers, four steak knives, a wood cutting block and basting brush are included in one box. The set is available at Linens N' Things.

But if the tools don't prove it, the apron will. With "King of the Grill" scrawled across the front, Wal-Mart's master chef apron features two large front pockets to hold all your tools, and can be personalized with your name. And since grilling can be a greasy

job, the apron is completely

machine-washable. For

personalized styles, visit Wal-Mart.com.