7 Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue

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Summer is quickly approaching, which means warm weather, lake days, baseball games, and good food. If you’re looking for an excuse to get your friends and family together this summer, fire up the grill and plan a backyard barbecue!

7 Secrets to a Successful Barbecue

When it comes to hosting a party at your house, a backyard barbecue is the perfect event to get your feet wet. It’s casual, outside (which means you don’t have to worry about lots of people roaming around your house), and relaxed.

But to make your party a success, there are some things you need to know. Take a look:

Schedule in Advance

Summer may be a relaxed time of year, but it’s also one of the busiest in terms of social engagements and events. If you want certain people to be there, go ahead and schedule the barbecue in advance. A three to four-week heads up should be ample time.

Invite the Right Number of People

While there will always be at least a few people who are unable to make the barbecue, be wary of inviting more people than you can reasonably handle. If your backyard is small and you only have room for 10 or 15 people, don’t invite 30 or 40.

It’s also wise to think about the type of people you’re inviting. If you want a relaxed vibe, don’t invite a bunch of high-energy people who are at odds with one another. Be strategic with the guest list and keep it to people you enjoy being around.

Keep it Low-Key

By definition, a backyard barbecue is low-key and relaxed. This isn’t a stuffy dinner party. There shouldn’t be any major expectations or dress requirements. It’s also unnecessary to bring out china or silverware. Paper products are cheap, easy, and eliminate the cleanup. There’s also no need to do a sit-down dinner.

“I love a serve-yourself buffet and standing-height tables, so people don’t feel confined to one area,” says Jonathan Van Ness, host of Queer Eye. “If you want to bring everyone together for the dining experience, though, a large communal table allows you to do just that without it feeling too formal.”

Plan for Weather

Weather is one of the biggest challenges with an outdoor barbecue during the summer. Not only can it be really hot, but there’s also the possibility of sporadic thunderstorms and rain.

Don’t stress out about the weather, but you should make some plans for it. One easy thing you can do is set up a few tents in your backyard. These tents serve a couple of purposes. First off, they offer shade for guests and protection from the sun. Secondly, they give you shelter in the event of an isolated shower.

Set a Food Budget

For most people, meat is the biggest expense associated with hosting a backyard barbecue. If you plan to provide all of the meat, set a budget and shop around. You don’t have to provide filet mignon or steak. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, and other lower-cost meats are both tasty and cost-effective.

Make it a Potluck

While it may be considered bad taste to ask people to bring food to a cocktail party, it’s perfectly acceptable to make a barbecue into a potluck event where guests bring a side dish. (Especially if you’re providing the meat.) You can also encourage guests to bring their own beer and wine. This cuts down on the costs and ensures everyone has a drink they enjoy.

Have Some Yard Games

If you want to take your barbecue to the next level, plan to have some activities set up in the backyard. Yard games like corn hole, ladder ball, badminton, and croquet are always solid choices. This gives guests something to do without making everyone feel like they have to participate.

Enjoy Yourself

The biggest mistake hosts make when throwing a party is stressing out over the details and not having fun. A backyard barbecue is all about relaxing and spending time with friends, so make sure you enjoy yourself.

By planning ahead, you can eliminate unnecessary work and free yourself up to socialize with your guests.