Outdoor cooking is the high point of summer for many families. Grilling out on the patio or porch is not only relaxing; it’s much easier to clean up. Moms and dads love letting the kids enjoy the outdoors while they prepare healthy, grilled meals. You don’t have to have a big expensive patio to enjoy grilling out. Simple, inexpensive stepping stones may be used to create a grilling area you can be proud of! Perfectly Square Grilling Area Square 12×12 inch stepping stones are an excellent way to build a perfectly square grilling area. They’re inexpensive, mobile, and look great. We chose to alternate two colors of stepping stone, red and white, creating a checkerboard pattern patio. We decorated our patio with iron patio furniture, a barbecue grill, a hammered tin bucket for beverages and a few lounge chairs. Stepping Stone Patio Building a more permanent patio with stepping stones requires cement and more work than building a small grilling area. The rewards are nearly endless for the minimal effort involved. You will need a shovel, a level, sand and stepping stones. Measure: Measure the area you’d like to use to build your patio. Stepping stones are 12 inches square, so grab a calculator and figure out how many stepping stones you will need. Allow room for about one-half inch of space between the stones. Dig: Dig the outline about two inches deep to get rid of grass and weed roots that may cause problems later. The area is going to be covered with sand and stepping stones so digging is optional. We found it creates a more even surface and more easily prevents weeds later. Level: Make the entire surface as level as possible. The cement will help create a more level base, but if you level it out to start with, your job will be much easier in the long run. Sand: Pour sand about an inch deep in the entire area. This serves as a nice, solid base for the stepping stones. Place: Start placing the stepping stones where you want them. Leave a small amount of space between each stone. One-half inch space allows more sand to fill the area, making a very nice finished look. Finish: Finish the patio by pouring more sand over the entire top. Sweep it side to side and back to front over the stepping stones to fill the empty spaces between stones with sand. In time the sand will settle nicely and finish the overall look of your patio. Barbecue Decor No patio is complete without patio furniture and a barbecue grill. Take the time to decorate your new patio to match your particular lifestyle. If you’re uncertain as to the type of patio furniture you’d like to have, consider buying an inexpensive set until you can choose a nicer set. Decorate your barbecue area to match the theme of your barbecue as well as your personal taste. Personalized tiki bar signs are a great way to personalize your area and welcome guests to your patio. Wall-mounted bottle openers are a must for those hard-to-open summertime beverages. Metal buckets and beverage tubs are a great way to store beverages and add decoration. Coolers perform a function, but buckets perform the same function while being much more decorative! Outdoor Cooking Outdoor cooking is an incredible way to meet new people or reconnect with friends. Consider a patio grill for normal grilling and a fire pit for roasting larger meats. Grilled pizza is always a hit and so few people actually add this gem to their usual barbecue menu. Grilling pizza is as simple as using a pizza stone and knowing when to add your ingredients. Pizza may be cooked on an outdoor grill or even in a fire pit. Don’t overlook specialized cooking utensils for your patio grill. Personalized touches make every guest feel special. Consider using a meat branding iron on each individual steak or burger. Each guest will see the special effort put forth when they realize their food has their name written all over it… literally!