Planning The Perfect Summer BBQ
Guest post by Kara T.
Smells of delicious food spread through the neighborhood; heat lingers in the air from the afternoon sun and friends and family erupt with laughter. It’s barbecue time! Backyards, patios and parks all over are being turned into party central as the sunny season begins. With just a little bit of planning, anyone can have the perfect summer barbecue.
Organization is essential to planning any event, and while barbecues are more casual, a little organization will go a long way. Following these easy planning recommendations will lead to a memorable and fun barbecue.
Establish a Guest List: Anybody planning a barbecue should start with picking a date for the event and making a guest list. Give guests at least one week notice when sending out invitations. This will ensure that people are able to attend. The great thing about a barbecue is that a guest list can be diverse and pull people in from different sectors of anyone’s life. Barbecue’s create an environment where people feel comfortable getting to know each other.
Theme: A great way to make a barbecue extra special is to create a theme around it. This can help with menu, decor and activity planning. It is not hard to think of a theme that matches well with barbecue season. Here are some ideas: Beach party, cowboy/western, Americana, tiki lounge and summer extravaganza. If the barbecue does have a theme, it is fun to let guests know ahead of time so that they can dress-up and bring things that go with or add to theme.
Menu: Now that guests have marked their calendars for the big event, a menu needs planned. The barbecue planner should consider that guests will be eating outside, on outdoor plates and, most likely, sitting in precarious positions. A menu with a good mix of foods that can be consumed easily with a fork or with someone’s hands is ideal. If possible, avoid dishes that require a diner to cut up their food (unless there is a table for everyone to sit at). Great traditional bbq foods are hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, and chicken skewers.
It is important to consider the elements of the meal (appetizers, main course, desert, drinks and sides), and how those will be prepared, presented and then enjoyed by the guests. It doesn’t hurt to keep the barbecue planner/chef in mind as well. A menu that has a few things that can be made ahead of time and put out or heated up right before guests arrive is helpful. Also, factor in clean-up time. The planner of the event wants to enjoy the festivities as well.
Guest often enjoy being able to contribute to a barbeque. A good event planner has couple dishes or items in mind that guests can bring in case anyone asks.
Set-up and Logistics: This is the part of hosting a barbecue that can easily fall by the wayside, but actually makes a huge difference in the success of the event. The planner needs to think through everything that might be needed for the barbeque other than just food ingredients. Here are some ideas of things to consider: tables and seating areas; outdoor plates, utensils and glasses; somewhere to place the food; how will the food be transported to the park or from the inside of the house to outside and is the barbecue space clean-up ready with recycling and trash bins. Being prepared with these small, but significant, details will further contribute to a great barbecue.
Activities: A truly fun barbecue has a mix of available activities and social time for guest to catch-up. Everyone loves a good yard game. Whether it is bean bag toss, badminton or bocce ball, most lawn games allow for any skill level or age to get involved.
Friends and family also enjoy barbecues as a time to keep up on what is happening in each other’s lives. This means the event should not be over structured. A good way to combine an activity, social time and the menu is to light-up the fire pit after dinner for a dessert of s’mores and some quality. Guests will want to stay late into the night catching-up around the fire.
Barbecues are an example of an American summer tradition at its finest and are simple for anyone to plan. It doesn’t take a lot, but consider all the ideas listed above and an unforgettable event will easily come together.
Having Hotdogs? Check out this infographic!
This guest post was brought to you by Kara Taylor, a freelance writer and lover of BBQ! She is currently in school at Kendall culinary collegeto become a chef.