There’s no better time than summertime to gather around the dinner table with your loved ones.

“A big part of Italian culture is dining outside when the weather is nice,” shares Giada De Laurentiis, the celebrity chef well known for her mouthwatering Italian-American recipes. “I love inviting my family over in the summer for a meal ‘al fresco.’” (The phrase “al fresco” is borrowed from Italian for “in the cool air.”)

“We usually do a big barbecue and everyone gets involved. It's a great time for all of us to be together and take a moment out of our busy lives to watch the sunset and enjoy the peacefulness of a warm summer evening.”

Fork and knife

Eating together stimulates communication, creates memories and establishes good eating habits; all reasons why Giada considers summer the perfect time of year to get behind the grill. “I love making my spaghetti alla checca — it's a pasta dish, but it's very light and super easy to throw together.” For something a little healthier, she heads to the garden. “A grilled vegetable platter goes a long way, but grilling stone fruit for dessert gives an unexpected twist to summer's sweetness.”

“Giada considers summer the perfect time of year to get behind the grill.”

Prep, prep, prep

Whether she’s throwing a backyard bash or an evening soiree, for Giada, decoration and preparation are key. “I like to string lights or place some luminaries around the yard for events that are around dusk,” she recommends. “I check my charcoal or gas supply for the grill and make sure I have all my prep done for the meal so I don't have to do a lot of running in and out.” Once bellies are full, summer nights are perfect for lawn games. “Bocce ball is a family favorite but croquette, Wiffle Ball, or just a good game of catch are always fun.”

No matter the occasion, Giada urges families to put safety first. “Be sure to keep the kids away from hot grills,” she recommends. “Place the grills on solid ground away from play areas.” She also reminds hosts to make sure the fire or gas is turned off before heading inside for the night. 

New traditions

From campfires to concerts, sharing experiences strengthens a family’s bond. “Last summer [my daughter] Jade and I went to Italy,” Giada recalls. “She’s old enough now to understand and try new foods, so it’s fun to take her around to places that I ate at as a kid and try the traditional foods that I tried for the first time when I was her age.”

This summer, the star is taking her family on a trip to the beach, and she isn’t leaving her four-legged friends behind. “We’ll bring along our cat Bella, and our new puppy Bruno will come too.” Her vacation itinerary includes paddle boarding, relaxing and spending a lot of time on the ocean with her friends and family.