Nothing brings people together like food, especially if that food is slathered in barbecue sauce. Although the Fourth of July and Memorial Day have come and gone, there are plenty more opportunities to grill out with all of your friends. So, if you’re ready to host a killer BBQ this summer, here’s what you need to do.
1. Create a Casual Atmosphere
Barbecues are casual gatherings where friends and family can show up in shorts — or even swimsuits — without receiving funny looks or feeling out of place. However, it’s up to you to set the right tone by creating a laid-back atmosphere.
Make every guest feel welcome and comfortable — regardless of what they bring or wear — by keeping decorations to a minimum. Use plasticware, paper plates and disposable cups, instead of your good dishes and stick to a buffet-style setup to encourage intermingling and small talk.
2. Keep a Flexible Schedule
Additionally, you might choose to keep a flexible schedule to establish a more casual space. For instance, instead of telling guests to arrive at a specific time, you could give them a one-hour time frame in which to show up. Remember to clear your evening of all other responsibilities, too, just in case guests want to keep grilling late into the night.
Of course, if you’re planning on smoking any meat, remember to factor cook time into your plans. When will your brisket or ribs be ready to eat? Plan for your friends to arrive around then. Otherwise, you might have some hangry guests on your hands.
3. Make Customizable Kebabs
If the upcoming barbecue is your first official post-pandemic celebration, you and your guests deserve something a little more special than hamburgers and hotdogs. Step up your grill game by making customizable shish kebabs. Whether they serve as the main course or a side dish, they’re sure to be a big hit at your Q.
Mix and match proteins like shrimp, sausage, tofu, salmon and chicken. Then, add some cubed fruits and vegetables to the skewers before tossing them on the grill. You can even play around with different marinades to create flavorful combinations that everyone will love.
4. Offer Meatless Alternatives
Barbecues are big on meat, but some people aren’t, which is why it’s important to have a few meatless alternatives. Luckily, there are dozens of plant-based options available nowadays so no one has to go hungry.
If you’re making pulled pork for the carnivores, try making imitation pulled pork with jackfruit for the vegetarians. Meanwhile, tofu steaks, Impossible burgers, and veggie hot dogs will cook perfectly right on the grill. Plus, they taste just as good with all your typical sides and condiments.
5. Make Signature Cocktails
Food might be the most important thing at a barbecue, but drinks are a close second. In most cases, your guests will bring their favorite beer or wine. However, you might augment their tributes with your own pitcher of sangria or party punch. Take a quick poll to determine which cocktail is your friends’ favorite and make an extra-large batch of it the day of the party. This way you can enjoy their company without getting stuck behind the bar.
6. Pump Up the Jam
The further you get from 15, the trickier it is to stay on top of music trends. What’s 2021’s song of the summer again? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. As long as you have an upbeat playlist — or know someone who does — you’ll have enough ambient noise to make your barbecue feel like a bash. Just remember to turn down the tunes when you’re eating and crank them back up when people make their way over to the pool or cornhole boards.
7. Provide Entertainment
Unless your friends are really into magic tricks, you probably shouldn’t hire a magician to perform at your barbecue. However, you definitely should provide other more adult-friendly forms of entertainment like cornhole, lawn darts, Giant Jenga, and other fun summer yard games.
Water guns, slip and slides, and an open pool are also great forms of self-guided entertainment. They’ll also allow guests the opportunity to escape the heat and cool off. Bonus points go to whoever starts a water balloon fight to help everyone else chill out, too.
8. Ward of Bugs
Nothing kills good vibes quicker than mosquitos. These little guys can turn you and your guests into a feast in minutes, which is why it’s crucial to plan ahead and ward them off. Keep the mosquitos and gnats at bay with zappers and plants like peppermint and marigold. You might also provide bug bracelets or spray-on repellent. Otherwise, citronella lanterns might provide some protection — and a nice, warm glow.
Keeping Cleanup Simple
All good things must come to an end, including your barbecue. Then, it’ll be your responsibility to clean up the lawn. Luckily, disposable dishware makes this process a breeze so you can head to bed sooner and wake up to a spotless backyard.
Photo by Everson Mayer from Pexels