Updated: Nov 17, 2022
There are few things as wonderful as enjoying a sunny day outside. Add in friends, food and some fun, and you've got the days we dream of. Hosting a backyard BBQ is a fun way to enjoy time together during nice weather. Hosting people in your backyard is different than hosting a barbecue party that'll make you the favourite house on the block. From selecting a perfect menu to setting a fun atmosphere for your guests, we've put together a list of everything you need to consider when throwing an awesome backyard barbecue.
Check the Weather Forecast
The first step to planning a backyard barbecue is to do your best to find a good weather weekend. While you can't guarantee the weather will remain nice, if you select a month that's generally dry and look at the forecast, you can plan as much as Mother Nature allows. Consider whether you'll offer a rain date when inviting guests, or whether you can keep the area covered.
Create a Fun Theme
Bring your guests a new and interesting version of the backyard barbecue. American barbecues are different than Mexican fiestas. Research ways that other countries do outdoor gatherings and put a new spin on your backyard entertaining. Perhaps a Hawaiian luau is in your future, maybe a Brazilian churrasco, or maybe an Italian serata.
Invite Your Guests
Most backyard barbecues are pretty casual. Inviting friends over through text message or email is perfectly suitable. Before you invite your guests, consider what details you will provide. Provide details on the general timeframe of the party, when dinner will be cooking, and if your guests should bring swimwear, contribute to the dinner spread, or refreshments.
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Step Up the Traditional BBQ Menu
We love a good burger as much as the next person, but to throw a memorable BBQ party, you want to step things up. In Spain, a barbecue isn't a barbecue without a giant Paella cooking over a fire. In Turkey they have traditional kebabs on the grill, in New Orleans it's all about the Shrimp Boil, in Hungary a pot of goulash is cooking over an open flame. How about cooking a pizza on the grill? There are so many outdoor menu options that go beyond hotdogs, so consider what will make for an enjoyable get together.
Be Grill Ready
The grill becomes a communal spot to gather. Clean the barbecue, tools and the surrounding area. Make sure you have plenty of charcoal or propane on hand and maybe some extra just in case. There's nothing worse than running out of fuel in the middle of dinner.
Offer Some Shade
Not everyone is a sun worshipper. For those that turn into a lobster in just a matter of minutes, make sure to offer an area with plenty of shade using umbrellas or add some seating under trees.
Look at Your Lighting
Before you host in your backyard, take a look at the lighting. As dusk sets in, you'll want to have citronella candles to ward off any pests, and lighting to keep the party going. String lights on a patio are easy to hang and make for a festive atmosphere and great ambiance.
Play Some Good Tunes
Make sure you have a great playlist ready to go on your outdoor speakers. For the daytime, create a chill playlist that includes singer-songwriter and maybe some country music. As the day turns to evening, add in some pop and you'll keep the party going.
Let the Games Begin
Be Pool Ready
If there's a pool involved, make sure to tell guests to bring towels and sunscreen. Put floaties in the pool so everyone can have some water fun. For those that forget their equipment have sunscreen and extra towels on hand.
Stock the Beer & Cocktails
Beer is often considered the drink of choice at backyard parties. Offer two or more locations where you'll stock a beer selection. Using large metal tubs is a great choice. Simply fill the tub with lots of ice and keep the brews cold all day. For those that want to serve cocktails, premixed drinks is the best way to go. In a large container, mix up sangria or margaritas and then all you have to do is add ice! Make sure to keep plenty of ice on hand.
Serve Up Refreshing Drinks
Not everyone will want to indulge at the party, including the kids. Serve up a refreshing mix of drinks for everyone to enjoy. A lemonade or iced tea stand is a fun way for the kids to get involved and maybe earn an extra buck or two from tips! Serve the drinks with fun garnishes and festive straws to add a little something extra.
Set Up a Snack Station
Set up an area with sun friendly snacks for your guests to enjoy. Things that hold well include potato chips, tortilla chips, tomato based salsas, corn salsa, guacamole, fresh vegetables, fruit and hummus. Stay away from things like cheese or cream based dips that have limited life in the heat.
Set Your Dinner Stations
When it's time to light up the grill, set up a dinner station complete with cute cutlery areas where people can grab a fork and knife along with plates and napkins. Make sure to have everything weighed down so wind doesn't send paper plates flying.
Set Up a Topping Station
Let everyone have some fun with their toppings. Whether you're serving pizzas or pulled pork, a condiment area lets your guests explore spicy ketchup and zucchini relish to garlic mayo and tomatillo salsa.
Bring On the Frozen Treats
Create an area to help your guests beat the heat. Set up a cooler with popsicles, freezies, ice cream sandwiches and other cool treats to enjoy throughout the day.
Prepare an Evening Snack
A campfire or firepit is a fun way to end the night. Offer snacks like marshmallows, hotdogs, s'mores, and other items that can be cooked over the fire. Make sure to have barbecue sticks at the fire pit so guests can easily whip up their late night snack.
Send Everyone Home with a Party Favor
When dinner starts to wind down and your guests begin to leave, it's nice touch to send them home with a small gift or party favour. Send home guests with a frisbee, tumbler, can koozie, or little candy treats to enjoy the next day.
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