How to Create the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue This Summer

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Backyard barbecues are one of the best things in life. Delicious food, good friends, beautiful weather, and boozy drinks – you just can’t go wrong.

 

Even the simplest barbecues are pretty awesome all on their own, but we’re gonna take it up a notch and create THE BEST backyard barbecue ever.

 

One that’s easy to host, fun to attend, and easy to clean up.

 

We’re gonna tackle the (7) major things you need to do for the perfect backyard barbecue, and we’re gonna share some top-secret barbecue hacks that are going to make your life sooooo much easier too!

 

I bet there are a few tips and tricks on this list you’ve never heard of!

 

Here is exactly how to create the ULTIMATE backyard BBQ, just in time for the warm summer weather!

 

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  1. THE FOOD

It alllll starts with the food, right? Good food brings people together.

 

And here’s what you need to do in the food department for the ultimate backyard barbecue.

 

PLAN THE MENU

 

Make sure you plan the menu ahead of time and keep a running list of ingredients that you’re going to need.

 

There is nothing more stressful than trying to buy food on the day of the party or realizing you’re missing important ingredients at the last minute.

 

Plan ahead.

 

Start a list of potential appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and make sure you have all of the ingredients stocked up ahead of time. This way, you can just focus on the cooking on barbecue day.

 

Pro Mom Hack:Use the BBQplanner.com to map out exact quantities of food for the number of guests!

 

BBQ Planner is awesome.

 

You’ll just enter the number of adults, kids, meat-eaters, and vegetarians attending the barbecue, and it provides an entire list of items and quantities to purchase.

 

You might need to make a few adjustments for your needs, of course, but it’s the best starting point.

 

And the menu-planning process does NOT need to be complicated. You could easy do a meat option, a vegetarian option, and some yummy side dishes.

 

Boom – menu planned!

 

 

 

GO WITH THE SIGNATURE DISH

 

The beauty of a backyard barbecue is that you can keep it super simple and affordable (but still awesome).

 

Whether you’re on a tight budget or not, having a signature dish will really bring the whole menu together in an amazing way.

 

My husband usually smokes a brisket in the Green Mountain Grill Smoker with his own dry rub. It’s easy, delicious, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

 

Plus, when you smoke a huge brisket, you have tasty leftovers for dayssssss.

 

Focusing on a signature dish and then providing an alternative for guests with restrictions will make your prep work much easier! And for the record, you can’t go wrong with brisket, carne asada, hamburgers, or hot dogs!

 

GET A LAZY SUSAN FOR MUNCHIES

 

We have a ceramic lazy susan like this one. It’s perfect for serving up munchies before dinner time. Fill the little containers with chips, dips, olives, or fruits and veggies.

 

Whatever your guests love!

 

There should always be an option for tasty snacks to munch on before and after dinner is served (especially for people with little kids)!

 

DISPLAY FOOD ON TIERED SERVERS

 

 

When it comes time to serve food, make sure everything is easy to see and easy to access. It’s usually easiest to accomplish this by displaying all the food on different levels using a tiered server tray.

 

Again, this does not need to be complicated AT ALL.

 

If you’re on a budget, you can use an upside-down crate or box to create a second tier on the table. This makes it easier for people to dish up a good variety of food and work their way through the lineup quickly.

 

 

If bugs or pests are a problem, you can cover food with netting like thisor use serving dishes with lids.

 

And of course, if it’s a big party with a lot of food, considerchafing dishes with lidsto keep all that food warm!

 

SEPARATE MEATS FOR PREFERENCE

 

 

Most of the time, we serve food straight off the grill as soon as it’s done. But if it’s a big party with a lot of food, we might have to move the food to covered serving trays.

 

It’ll be much easier to serve up food if it’s organized by preference. This is another time that tiered trays or large serving dishes come in handy.

 

You can separate the meats by how they were cooked (rare, medium, well done) and separate the other dishes by restrictions (vegetarian, gluten-free etc). It’ll make it easier for everyone to dish up their preference and it’ll save you time answering a bunch of questions about where the well-done steaks are!

 

MAKE DESSERT THE SHOWSTOPPER

 

 

Pinterest is an amazing, uhhhh-mazing, place to find creative recipes, desserts, and enviable displays!

 

To make this ultimate backyard barbecue even better, put a little extra effort into a pretty and tasty dessert!

 

 

You can follow this Pinterest board for tons and tons and tons of dessert ideas and displays!

 

  1. THE DRINKS

 

Warm weather and barbecues are the best opportunity to mix up some delicious fruity drinks or boozy beverages for the adults who choose to drink.

 

Every ultimate backyard barbecue must include COLORFUL fruity drinks – it’s basically a law!

 

If you want to keep it simple, you can’t go wrong with watermelons, pineapples, or slices of citrus floating in water or juice.

 

 

We usually choose a few simple crowd-pleasers and then a fancier signature drink if we can!

 

Ideas:

 

Sweet tea with sliced lemons
Limeade with sliced limes
Watermelon and cucumber water
Pineapple strawberry lemonade
Fruit punch

 

You could also do canned sodas and juices, of course. But there is a special touch added to the barbecue with homemade fruity drinks!

 

If you decide to add canned drinks, just fill a cooler with ice and put all drinks on their sides so the label/flavor is visible!

 

Pro tip:

 

If all drinks are labeled, this also cuts down on excessive questions from guests too. You can use these simple little chalkboard signs or marker labels to label your beverage containers.

 

DRINKWARE

 

If it’s a small gathering, consider skipping the red solo cups and using some fun and colorful dishware instead. Even if it’s a huge party and you need to supplement with disposable dishes, you can set out a few nice dishes near the drinks or serving table to add some color.

 

We love the colorful look of these dishes from RICE dishware! They bring a beautiful pop to our drink table and to the whole party.

 

 

THE ADULT BEVERAGES

 

If you’re serving adult beverages at the party, just make sure to keep them out of the reach of kids! If you have a mixed drink dispenser, make sure it’s clearly labeled.

 

Adult beverages that we love to serve at our backyard barbecues:

 

Classic margaritas
Pina colada Sangria
Whiskey and Coke
Teremana Tequila
Sorbet champagne floats

 

  1. THE SEATING

 

Most of us are fine standing around the grill and chatting with friends all evening. But when it’s time to eat or wind down, most people are going to want to sit.

 

 

Make sure there is appropriate seating for everyone. If there aren’t enough chairs, then get creative and make seats out of coolers or storage bins.

 

We have this big outdoor storage box for tools and outdoor toys. It’s sturdy and it doubles as a great bench. Up to 3 adults can comfortably sit on it!

 

Another seating option: comfy blankets and pillows!

 

This is especially a great option if you’ve got little ones.

 

  1. THE DÉCOR

 

Décor is a big part of creating the ultimate backyard barbecue.

 

Most people think it’s just delicious food and beer that makes a barbecue great, but the ambiance and the décor matters a lot too.

 

The trick here is to keep it simple, classy, and functional!

 

Simple ways to maximize the barbecue décor without breaking the bank:

 

Bring out color that you already have on hand!

 

Lay some colorful blankets and pillows out in the grass.
Put some colorful dishware on the serving table or the drink table.
Use colorful fruit as center pieces.

 

Light up the night!

 

Use twinkle lights or candles to bring a cozy vibe to the yard.
Pass out some glow sticks when it starts getting dark.

 

 

Find cheap décor at the Dollar Tree!

 

The Dollar Tree usually carries a ton of products with a summertime feel. Tiki torches, table skirts, dishes, and more.

 

If you’re on a budget, but you want the party to carry a specific theme, check out the dollar store. They’ll usually deliver the goods right to your house if you can’t go into the store to browse!

 

  1. THE ENTERTAINMENT

 

Alrighty.

 

We’ve got the good food, the delicious drinks, the comfortable seating, and the nice décor.

 

This backyard barbecue is on its way!

 

Now, let’s talk about entertainment.

 

This will look a little different for everyone, as it fully depends on your group and what they enjoy. But there are a few basic things that pretty much every barbecue-attending human enjoys.

 

MUSIC.

 

Make sure you have a few appropriate Spotify playlists ready to roll! A Bluetooth speaker is a great purchase for barbecues or gatherings of any kind. This way, you can have music playing in the background but still keep your phone with you.

 

GAMES.

 

Simple entertaining games are a must, especially for kids. It also breaks any awkward barriers for our guests that are a bit shyer.

 

Great backyard barbecue games:

 

Cornhole
Lawn darts
Ladder toss
Horseshoes
Inflatable bowling

 

Make sure you also have a few decks of cards lying around so that people can grab a deck and play a game if they get bored.

 

 

  1. THE EXTRA TOUCHES

 

Although the essentials listed above are the most important things to prepare for this barbecue, there are a few other important extras that can be super important depending on the weather and season.

 

Bug repellant: bugs are usually major pests during the warm weather. Make sure you prep the yard, get rid of any standing water, spray some natural bug repellants around the yard, and buy a few citronella candles.

 

We also use these safe repellents for the kiddos and keep lavender oil handy so that we can just dab a few drops onto our exposed skin throughout the night.

 

Cooling stations: if the weather is super-hot, consider setting up a cooling station for people to get some relief from the heat. Find a shady spot and set up a little table with stuff to help everyone cool off.

 

On hot days, my cooling station has:

 

A few hats with brims.
A small cooler full of icy water and washcloths for cooling the neck.
Water spray misters that I got from the dollar store.

 

If it’s in the budget, you can also buy a few handheld mister fans.

 

Trash bins: make sure that you have a few different visible trash bins with lids (to keep the flies and other pests at bay).

 

  1. THE CLEANUP

 

And now, after you’ve had the ultimate backyard barbecue, and everyone went home happy, you probably have a massive mess to clean up.

 

Here’s how to tackle that!

 

USE SMELLY PROOF STORAGE BAGS.

 

These bags are awesome. They are durable, reusable, and they don’t hold any yucky leftover food smells!

 

They also save a ton of space in your fridge if you’re keeping leftovers, and they keep your Tupperware from getting borrowed/stolen if you’re sharing leftovers with guests.

 

Transfer all food into these bags and store them in the fridge. Just handling the food is a huge part of removing the mess!

 

 

DO A QUICK TRASH SCAN

 

Grab a giant sturdy trash bag and do a quick scan of the whole house and yard. Throw all the remaining trash away.

 

If you followed the above tip and left visible trash cans in a few easy-access places, there shouldn’t be too much trash scattered around the yard. But even then, there is bound to be a few paper plates and beer bottle caps lying around.

 

Do a quick scan and clean up any trash you see.

 

WASH DISHES THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT

 

If you didn’t go the disposable route, you’ll probably have a lot of dishes to clean at the end of the night.

 

I personally clean dishes throughout the night, as time allows. This way, the house isn’t an unmanageable mess after everyone goes home.

 

You could also recruit some help if the mess is a bit too much to manage alone. Or even hire someone for a quick cleanup the day after the party!

 

BACKYARD BARBECUE HACKS

 

 

Here are a few other hacks you might not have tried that will help you perfect the evening!

 

Use an onion to clean the grill.

 

Learned this one from my father-in-law. Just cut an onion in half, stick it on the grill fork, and rub the open end on the grill slats. It removes any leftover grime and adds a little flavor to the new food you put on the grill.

 

Use rosemary sprigs as skewers.

 

You can use rosemary sprigs as the skewers for soft foods, like shrimp and chicken. It adds flare and flavor!

 

If the rosemary isn’t firm enough to break through the meat, use a regular skewer to create a hole, and then string the shrimp or chicken onto the sprig.

 

Soak wood skewers in water.

 

If you’re using wood skewers, be sure to soak them in water before you fire up the grill to prevent them from burning.

 

Also, if you’ve got some heavy food on the skewers, be sure to double up with two instead of one so that you don’t have food falling into the grill when you flip them!

 

Grill your pineapples, peaches, and lemons!

 

Be sure to throw a few fruits onto the grill and char them a bit before serving with a scoop or pie and ice cream!

 

 

Have all the food delivered.

 

Save yourself from a hectic trip to the store and buy all the party food online! Here are a few options for grocery store delivery:

 

Albertsons (get $20 OFF + FREE delivery when you spend $75)
Target (same-day delivery in some locations)
InstaCart (choose from a variety of stores)

 

THE ULTIMATE BACKYARD BARBECUE

 

 

You’re ready to throw the perfect backyard barbecue now, and your guests are NOT going to be disappointed!

 

Remember to start by taking inventory of what you already have or what you can repurpose for your barbecue needs. This will help you to save a few bucks so that you can splurge on the things that really matter.

 

And don’t forget to focus on the seven main areas of every awesome barbecue: the food, the drinks, the seating, the décor, the entertainment, the extra touches, and the cleanup!

 

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