Summers are meant for backyard barbecues. They are the perfect time to laze around with your closest friends and family, light up a grill, turn your favorite music up high, bring out your favorite beverages, and gorge on all manners of food, to your heart’s delight.
The simple joys in life are the most precious ones, and casual summer barbecues with your loved ones are the best and easiest way to eat and drink well while having a good time.
You can throw a big barbecue party for everyone you know and love, or a small backyard cookout. Either way, the key to a successful party lies in planning ahead.
A checklist of all of your barbecuing essentials and things-to-do can make all the difference, so here are a few tips that will ensure that your summer barbecue is a hit, with you and your guests, too.
Plan Ahead and Keep It Simple
The best laid plans are the least complicated ones, and the key to a stress-free, laid back party is the art of keeping things casual. So, plan your party, and especially the menu, ahead.
Instead of getting fancier cuts of meat or preparing time consuming hors’d’ouvers, focus on time tested classics. Invest in good quality burger patties, steaks, sausages, and sturdy, fresh vegetables like bell-peppers, corn, and courgettes.
Prepare rubs and marinades for everything beforehand so that you and your guests can all take turns in grilling meats and vegetables. If you have the time, make a few simple salads.
Never has anyone ever complained about a large supply of chips, crisps and dips spread around the party for all to nibble on.
Always prioritize quality over quantity and a small variety of good quality food and drinks, placed strategically around your home and garden will go a long way in impressing your guests.
Try not to go overboard with decorations. Stream some fairy lights around your garden, arrange some votives and flowers on metal trays and place them on the unused spots.
Avoid fine china, ceramic, or cutlery to serve the food with and buy disposable plates, utensils and paper towels so you have less to clean up later.
Think about Seating Arrangements
Though it is not necessary to arrange a sit down affair with formal tables and chairs for a garden barbecue, do make sure that there are plenty of seating options for your guests.
Spruce up your garden seats with colorful throw pillows or fairy lights. Make impromptu seats with cushions and rugs, dig out the old, heirloom rattan chairs and sofas from your storage if you have them.
If need be, bring forth your camping stools and dining room chairs. Surely you don’t want your guests to balance both food and drinks while standing, conversing, or attempting to eat.
Prepare the Grilling Equipment
This one is obviously a no-brainer, but unfortunately, many a barbecue party has gone awry because no one bothered to check whether the grill was still functional before the party started, or whether there was enough fuel at hand.
Check all of your equipment days beforehand. Make sure that you have enough mixing bowls, spatulas, tongs, aluminium foil, grilling accessories like forks and gloves, aprons, oil, food brushes and charcoal or propane, depending on the type of grill you own.
If you are a barbecue master who is already an expert at cooking and serving up the best grilled fare and want to spruce things up, think about investing in a pellet smoker.
They are extremely easy to use and can jazz up your barbecue game to a great degree by adding that much desired smokiness to your meats.
You'll also want to make sure you have standard kitchen appliances handy like a meat thermometer, can opener, and utensils. You can find some of the top can openers online.
Ice Buckets and Drinks
For a successful party you also need the perfect chilled accompaniments. Be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, everything from beer, to bubblies to fruit slushies and juice taste better when they are nice and cold.
Make sure that you stock up on plenty of ice from beforehand. Scatter ice-loaded buckets all around your grounds and fill them up with a mix of different beverages. Make use of all available ice boxes and ask your friends to bring some along if you do not have enough.
If children are coming to your party make sure that you consider their needs too. Fill ice boxes with frozen lollies and slushies and encourage the adults to help themselves to it all.
If you cannot be bothered with preparing or buying a wide variety of beverages, pitchers of ice cold lemonade have never failed to please. Make large jars of lemonade, store them in the fridge hours ahead of the party and give your guests the option of topping it up with soda or carbonated water while serving themselves.
Do not forget to stock up on an ample quantity of plastic cups, bottle openers and napkins.
The correct sauces, condiments and toppings can make a world of difference in jazzing your food up. If you do not want to invest in a wide variety of meats or vegetables, do consider preparing or buying a range of different accompaniments.
With the luxury of time, you could prepare homemade salsa, guacamole, tomato sauce, and different vinaigrettes before the guests arrive and serve them once the barbecue is underway. However, there is nothing wrong with opening jars of store bought dips, cheese sauces, hot sauces, ketchup, and mustard.
Try to prepare small bowls of chopped gherkins, pickles, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and cheese and place them all around your garden so that all of your guests have access to different condiments and toppings no matter where they are sitting and standing.
Remember to have fun yourself. Just because you are the host does not mean that you should keep slaving away and miss out on all the merriment.
Plan all activities and chores ahead of the day of the barbecue so you can enjoy your party with your guests. Have your friends and family help out with the grilling and food prep, keep extra seating, ice, cutlery, utensils, and grilling equipment nearby so you don’t have to panic lest there are a few unexpected guests or mishaps.
So, make sure to turn some groovy music on, let your hair down, mingle, and make great memories of epic summer barbecues with your loved ones.