Summer is almost here. Although the offi cial fi rst day is not until June 21, many consider the season to run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This time of year comes with higher temperatures, longer daylight hours, fewer clothing layers and, my favorite, more barbecues.

The sights, sounds, tastes and smells of a cookout bring together family and friends in a way that allows everyone to relax and enjoy one another’s company. The kids can play on the lawn while the adults enjoy beverages and talk story. Give yourself an extra hand by stepping up your holiday barbecue with some tech.

LED string lights

Put LED string lights up once, use them all year. The technology of LEDs has come a long way from the fluorescent, white hues of the past. The colors now look just like the warm incandescent lights we are used to. Plus, the styles have evolved to fit any d├ęcor you may have.

Bluetooth probe meat thermometer


Step away from the grill — and come back to perfectly cooked food. Simply insert the probes, and then choose the type of food on the accompanying mobile app. The probes will digitally read the temperature and alert you when your food is good to go.

Grill light

Not only will illuminating your grill help to ensure your food is cooked properly, but it will keep you safe as well. A light will allow you to see your grilling tools and controls. When shopping, keep in mind that clip-ons will often do the trick for the occasional griller. However, if you plan to grill more frequently, a plug-in type may be worth the investment. Plugged grill lights are less likely to corrode and will also shine brighter than battery-powered versions.

High-quality outdoor speaker

This is one of those items that I think is always worth the splurge. Cheap outdoor speakers often sound muffled or have static and last just a few months. Good quality speakers no longer break the bank and have also come a long way in terms of technology. Compact sizes pack a big punch for a relatively small investment, and they can last for several years.

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