Summer is upon us and the time for friends and family get-togethers are here! The backyard barbecue is always fun whether you are planning to serve ribs, chicken and steaks or hamburgers and hotdogs. You can make the party as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be by preparing everything yourself or by having everyone bring a dish to contribute, cutting your work down substantially. Some hosts love the idea of entertaining and enjoy doing all the preparatory work themselves while others just want to take it easy and enjoy the company of family and friends on the day of the barbecue.
You will probably want to plan some form of entertainment for your guests and set up some music for background ambiance. Tiki lights are always a good choice for lighting as it helps to set the mood as well as provide just enough light for people to sit and chat. You will also follow some general rules about setting a table for condiments and possibly some table centerpieces to spark conversation and to add color to your party.
Spend some time pulling out your favorite family recipes or maybe even looking up some new ones for the meat and vegetables you plan to serve. Corn on the cob, baking potatoes and many other vegetable choices can be seasoned, wrapped in foil and placed right on the grill with the meat you choose to save you cook time. The same is true for garlic bread to go with steak or seafood choices. No matter what you plan to serve you will want some kind of vegetables to go with it and maybe a tossed salad or possibly potato or pasta salad. For hamburgers and hotdogs you may want to go with chips and dip, some baked beans and maybe a fresh vegetable tray. To keep people from running in and out of the house you may find it easier to fill some plastic tubs with ice and keep your drink choices outside and easy to reach.
You will want to give plenty of thought to your table settings, and not necessarily for a sit down dinner but one central table for condiments will make it easier for your guests to find what they need. You will want plenty of salt and pepper, mayo, mustard, catsup, relish, onions and steak sauces, salad dressings, potato add-ins and toppings if you are serving baked potatoes, napkins and utensils should all be centrally located.
Utensils and napkins can be placed in used and cleaned coffee cans so the gentle breeze of a summer’s evening doesn’t send them blowing across the yard. You can also set the can of flatware on top of the stack of paper plates so they don’t get blown around the yard. You will keep yourself from running all night if this table is set up with everything your guests need. It is often easier to put everything in a box and then carry it out to the table to get it set up.
You may also want to set up some outside games like horse shoes, Croquet, Bocce, or a bean bag toss. If there will be children attending make sure you have plenty of things to keep them occupied. You may want to provide bottles of bubbles, a fishing game in a small plastic pool, or a ball toss. Keeping them busy and entertained will keep them out from under foot, and out of trouble!