When the days get long and lazy, it's time for a barbecue. The best barbecues are casual excuses to just hang out outdoors and eat.
Tips for Hosting a Barbecue:
- Most barbecues are held in the afternoon or early evening.
- As the party drifts toward evening, keep it well-lit with candles hung in lanterns, tiki torches, or white Christmas-tree lights strung from tree limbs. Depending on where you live, also consider citronella bug candles!
- Fill a grill basket with your meats and vegetables and set it over the coals. In one flip, you turn everything and it all finishes at once. It's a great way to grill large meals easily and quickly.
How to Host a Barbecue:
- Although barbecues are casual, send your invitations a week or two in advance of the event. Consider presenting start and end times and letting people know when the main meal will be served (Party from 3 p.m. until late; we'll eat around 6 p.m.).
- Plan your menu. While traditional barbecue fare tends toward hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad, there's no reason you can't grill shrimp brochettes, bell peppers and eggplant, lamb shish kabobs, or cilantro-and-lime-marinated chicken, either. Just make sure you can prepare everything ahead of time with a minimum of fuss. You want to enjoy being outdoors, too.
- Plan your drinks. If it's hot, everyone will be drinking something most of the time. For nonalcoholic drinks, be sure to have fresh cold water, then consider a variety of sodas, juices, and iced teas. For alcoholic drinks, beer is standard, but wine and festive punches, such as sangria, are great too. Keep your overstock drinks cool in extra storage ice-chests.
- Prepare some snacks for guests to eat while waiting for the main meal - nothing too fancy or filling. Try homemade salsas or a vegetable platter with garlic mayonnaise (aioli) for dipping.
- Provide ample party supplies like plates, cups, napkins, utensils and place them where they're easily accessible. People will only notice if these are missing - and then it won't be nice. Make sure paper plates are sturdy.
- Provide enough picnic tables and chairs for everyone. You'll also want tables for the prepared food, for the drinks, and for the uncooked food and utensils, next to the grill. Cover the picnic tables with plastic or cloth tablecloths, both for looks and easy clean-up.
- Remember how long it takes to fire up the grill; also plan out how long it will take to cook all the food you're planning, especially if it won't all fit on the grill at once.
- Have some party games prepared for the event. Volleyball, badminton and horseshoes are traditional barbecue games and are relatively easy to set up.