After a long winter (and even longer pandemic-induced lockdown), you may be feeling the summer itch. Trade your sweaters for tank tops and boots for flip-flops, and plan your long-awaited backyard get-together to kick-off summer fun. Before you dive in without a plan or necessary prep, gather a hefty spread and break open your trusty grill for the perfect outdoor get-together. To throw a backyard bash, sure to have your guests talking, read on for six tried-and-true tips for the perfect summer bash.
Take care of the grill
For many summer-lovers, a well-loved grill is a staple. Although the grill is oh-so-revered, they often collect dust during colder months, waiting for the first hint of sun. Instead of letting your grill become a time-capsule of BBQs-past, give it a little TLC before your next get-together. We’re talking repairs, cleaning, and a new propane tank to take your BBQ to the next level.
If you have a gas grill, make sure the tank has been refilled and regularly check the connection between the tank and the grill. Charcoal grills should have clean coals spread out evenly on one side. To satisfy everyone’s taste buds, provide an array of proteins like steaks, burgers, chicken and fish as well as veggie options for those who prefer plant-based foods.
Before guests arrive, take a few minutes to carefully prepare your grill. Make sure it is clean, so food will cook evenly and taste delicious. Stack hardwood charcoal briquettes evenly across the bottom of the charcoal or gas grill, or use pre-lit crew briquettes.
If you’re using wood chips for added flavor, put those on top of the charcoal and spread them out. Don’t forget to check proper fuel amounts—too much can cause fire flare-ups while too little won’t provide enough heat. When grilling fruit and vegetables, set up two temperature zones so that all types of food can be cooked safely without burning.
Not only will a squeaky-clean grill mean better-tasting food, but you’re also saving yourself from a potential fire hazard due to grease stains and build-up. If you need help getting your grill up to standard, run a Google search using the keywords “Palm Beach grill cleaning” and treat your grill to a deep clean before it’s time to shine.
Pick the right food
Even the most expensive grill can’t fix a poor-quality steak. If you hope to give your friends the post-quarantine BBQ they deserve, don’t load up their plates with bargain meat and store-bought barbecue sauce. Consult a quality meat selection guide for your grill, then hit cuts with some simple homemade sauce. Additionally, don’t forget to pick up fresh corn for grilled cobs and organic veggies for a burger station. Practice your BBQ skills, freshen-up the ingredients, and your party will be the talk of the neighborhood.
When deciding what type of food to serve, the main consideration should be your guests. Are you aiming for a casual atmosphere or something that’s a bit more upscale? Once you’ve established your desired tone, then you can proceed with selecting specific dishes and drinks.
Finger foods such as chips & dip or mini sandwiches tend to be crowd-pleasers at relaxed gatherings before the mains such as steak and barbecue meats. If a fancy affair is your goal, try preparing small plates featuring seasonal ingredients or exotic flavors.
No barbecue is complete without drinks. While a classic American BBQ staple is a cooler full of ice-cold brews, give your guests additional choices by adding adult-twists on childhood classics. Have a pitcher of regular lemonade for kids, a high-quality outdoor fireplace, and offer an adults-only lemonade made with grilled lemons to fit the theme.
Make sure to offer something for everyone, whether that’s an array of fruit juices, lemonade, iced teas, or several varieties of beer. If the occasion has a specific theme, consider using festive additions like umbrellas and fun garnishes like fruit or sugars. You can also consider pre-mixing a large batch of your favorite cocktail to serve in pitchers so guests don’t feel burdened with individual drinks.
No matter what you choose, don’t forget the ice and extra supplies like cups and napkins so everyone can easily grab whatever type of beverage they desire at any point during the party.
Seating, lighting, decor—your summer kick-off event deserves it all. If your backyard lacks flora and fauna, spring for floral table coverings and green accents, or hang string lights from your trees for an inexpensive and easy way to bring light to the party. If you’ve got extra time before the event, construct DIY paper lanterns at home. Not only will they amp-up your space, but they’re also a great activity to keep your little ones busy until the fun begins.
Since you’ll be outside, don’t forget to keep mosquitoes away with burning incense around the yard or citronella candles in the main seating area. Placing tiki torches throughout your space can also add a festive touch without overcrowding the area.
Finally, don’t forget about comfort: scatter some cushions and blankets outside for extra seating – and don’t worry if there’s a cool breeze in the evening; provide your guests with cozy pillows to keep them relaxed throughout the party.
Don’t forget dessert
Cookies and brownies are always a hit, but a backyard BBQ is a chance to break out marshmallow sticks and make some s’mores. A fire pit incorporates seating and atmosphere with an activity for both grown-ups and kids to enjoy. Stick to classics by setting up a plate of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate, or level-up your s’mores bar by offering peanut butter cups or caramel truffles. If you don’t have a fire pit, don’t worry. You can always pick up a few cans of Sterno before your event for a simple, accessible DIY dessert station.
Whether you decide to serve cake, cookies, ice-cream, or something else entirely; it’s the finishing touch that can elevate your gathering from great to outstanding. To make things easier on yourself while still wowing your guests, try making something ahead of time like a no-bake cheesecake parfait or frozen yogurt cake that can be quickly assembled just before serving.
If you’re looking for creative ideas, why not opt for individual cupcakes instead of one large cake – everyone gets their own and there are endless combinations of icing and decorative toppings to choose from.
Last but not least, the kids
Remembering the kids when planning a backyard get-together is essential. Creating an environment that’s both fun and safe will ensure everyone has a great time. Consider activities like hula hooping, frisbee, ball catching or running around a designated course – all of which are easy to organize and require minimal equipment.
Serve up healthy alternatives to sugary snacks so kids can enjoy treats without feeling sluggish later on.
Also plan outdoor games they can play such as corn hole, ladder golf and croquet – these can be enjoyed by adults too.
A backyard BBQ is for everyone. Invite the neighborhood kids and construct easy, outdoor games to keep them occupied until the food comes off the grill. Try setting up a plastic pink flamingo ring toss game or a water balloon fight and watch guests flock back to your seasonal get-togethers. Playing cornhole is also a fun way to get some activity time with your guests. Buy some unique cornhole bags for even more fun.
Summer is coming, and we are all itching to get outside. Make sure you give your grill a little TLC, serve the perfect food and drinks, and show your backyard some love. You’ll be setting this year’s BBQ standard for the entire block.