How to plan a summer BBQ they’ll remember? Easy – just get creative with drinks, food, and music selections, and pick an engaging theme for the event. Sure, you can rent a DJ or a swimming pool, but creating the perfect backyard bash really boils down to advance planning and preparation, inventiveness in drinks and food, and getting guests involved in your event. If you focus on the food, atmosphere, and drinks, then everything else will fall into place. Here’s what you need to know to plan a summer BBQ they won’t soon forget.
Serve Up the Classics
Depending on your audience, some BBQ staples are expected: Burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and corn are the usual suspects. It’s okay to serve the obvious choices, as folks look for the classics. Plus, these options will offer go-to choice for picky eaters.
Throw in Some Curveballs
Just because you’re serving up some classics doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get creative with other options as well. Offering your visitors an alternative meat dish like skewers with vegetables is a nice change up and can help you plan a summer BBQ they’ll adore. Grilling veggies over a grill is always a nice welcome. Or just using smoke wood chips instead of charcoal or propane can bring new flavor to your food and be a nice surprise for your guests. Likewise, you can also experiment with a range of meats from turkey to bison, putting all-new twists on traditional dishes.
Season, Season, Season
You can season your food right before you throw it on the grill, but you should always marinate and season your meat hours before gametime. Let your meats marinate in this special spice mix for at least for six hours, but let it set overnight (setting dishes out to soak up spices and marinate well in advance is a key part of learning how to plan a summer BBQ backyard bash).
Get Creative with Drinks
Impress your guests with some creative cocktails, including a themed drink for the event, in addition to providing the usual buckets of beer. Create an alcohol-infused drink that’ll refresh BBQ-goers and surprise them. For example, thisBlackberry Bourbon Lemonade is refreshing, delicious and perfect for backyard toasts.
Ask Guests to Bring a Dish
Your guests will want to contribute to – ask them to bring some fun and simple potluck options to help mix things up at your party. Assign everyone a portion of the meal, e.g. appetizers, sides, or deserts. Leave exact options open to them, however. For added fun, you might add selections to your online invitation so folks can get excited about checking out the menu in advance.
Pick a Fun Theme
Choose an interesting theme – sports, tiki, summer vacation, exotic meats, etc. – and run with it. For example, making a steak fest or a veggie-only BBQ will break up the monotony of a typical backyarder. If you have a smoker, and you’re well equipped at pitting, then theme your bash as a Smoke Out. A couple slight shifts in setup and presentation provide great incentive for guests to get more involved, and added incentive to get RSVPs in quickly.
Get Your Gear Together
The sooner you sort out the plates, decorations, utensils, and cups situation, the sooner you can focus on the bigger picture: The menu. Whether it’s tables, chairs or place settings, once you figure out what and how much you’re gathering, you can move onto the main ingredients.
Recruit Backup Assistance
If you’re flying solo when planning and orchestrating BBQ, you’re going to need a second in command (or an assistant or two) to help you out. Yes, it’s possible for you to do everything, but having a second pair of hands can help you get everything setup and organized much faster. So have a BFF back you up whether it’s manning the grill or picking up last-minute food and drink items as needed. Trust us, it pays to have help.
Before you fire up that grill, read more about how to plan a summer BBQ and throw the perfect backyard bash:
A native New Yorker, Carlos knows a lot(!) about pro-wrestling and still foolishly supports the Mets. Now living in New England with his wife and daughter, Carlos has written for www.Fatherly.com, ESPN, WWE, Men’s Journal, and Muscle & Fitness. When he’s not writing, Carlos is always looking for a new craft beer to drink.