Labor Day is upon us. There is more than enough time to wedge in a few more formal barbecues before we are thrust squarely into football season and its luxurious tailgate spreads. What really makes or breaks a good barbecue? The presentation, of course.

While it is tempting to serve from aluminum pans, make it your business to ditch those at least once as you plan for the final barbecue gatherings this season.  Since the heat wave has been ridiculous, most buffets have safely moved inside.  What a great opportunity to whip out casual linens, beautiful platters and unique drinkware!

I’ve put together a checklist that will make it easier to step up the presentation for your next Barbecue Get-Together!

1. A neutral tablecloth.

I recommend a simple brown linen one. They are ridiculously inexpensive and provide a great foundation for your overall appearance.

2. Simple white serving dishes/platters.

Why? They transcend season. They can be used to serve a simple summer salad or a pile of ribs, but they’ll also be great for casseroles and comfort food come winter.

3. Beverage dispensers.

Whatever your poison, it will look more appealing in one of these bespigoted vessels. Remember last week’s sangria recipes? Ding, ding, ding!

4. Fun plastic-ish plates.

Leave the Styrofoam plates behind this time. From the Dollar Tree to Pottery Barn, there are many options in as many colors and patterns as you can possibly imagine. Use this as an opportunity to add that pop of color.

5. A signature cup.

Try a novelty store for themed cups that complement your plate or even the theme of the gathering. One of my favorites is a fun set of toss-away cups that are emblazoned with “Weekend Waterford.” Cheeky, right? I know. I love it.

Hosting any more barbecue gatherings this summer? What’s YOUR specialty?

Shameeka Ayers is an Atlanta-based lifestyle blogger and author who dispenses entertaining, shelter and food & wine anecdotes and advice via her alter ego, The Broke Socialite. She also produces a national tour of curated dessert-tasting experiences, Sugar Coma Events™.  Her first novella, Instantly!: How Quickly I Realized I HATE My Job was released this summer.