Labor Day is coming up, meaning it’s time to start planning that end-of-summer barbecue.
Some of us may be out of practice when it comes to throwing parties, but with a few tips and tricks, you can be sure to wow your guests, even if you haven’t entertained since 2019.
Here are a few ideas for an outdoor bash everyone is sure to remember.
Creativity, Accommodation, and Safety are Key with Food
Get creative with your food choices. Steak and burgers are classic choices for a barbecue, but for a memorable party, you might want to think outside the box. Kebabs are a fun option, and you can even build a “create your own kebab” station, making sliced meats and vegetables available to guests to build their own skewers. This way, everyone gets exactly what they want, and it saves you some work. Just remember to soak wooden skewers in water to keep them from burning up on the grill.
Be accommodating of different dietary restrictions. Good hosts are always ready to make their guests feel comfortable, which means making sure that everyone has something to eat, regardless of any allergies, sensitivities, or lifestyle choices. But that doesn’t mean you have to make a dozen different foods to make sure you’re ready for anything. Ask guests to inform you of dietary restrictions when they RSVP, then plan food accordingly.
Keep food safe from spoiling and bugs. Many barbecue favourites, like creamy pasta salad, will spoil quickly if left in the sun for too long. Use coolers filled with ice to keep cold things that spoil, and use mesh covers to protect food from insects. Also, always make sure that any grilled meats are cooked to a safe internal temperature, which means 145 degrees for steak, 160 degrees for burgers, and 165 degrees for chicken.
Drinks Should Include a Festive Mix
Similar to accommodating everyone’s dietary preferences, make sure all of your guests have something festive to drink, regardless of their situation or preference. Classics like lemonade and iced tea are always good bets for people who do not drink alcohol, but you could also go a step further and make a mocktail, concocting a fun and creative alcohol-free drink that keeps things interesting.
For those who do choose to imbibe, consider making a signature cocktail for the party, then fill pitchers or a beverage dispenser so that people can enjoy a mixed drink without having to reach for the martini shaker. Plus, if you make it in a pretty colour and serve it from a glass dispenser, it doubles as a decoration. Bonus points for throwing in fresh fruit!
Bring in a Mix of Games
No backyard barbecue is complete without a good yard game or two. Cornhole is a favourite, but you can also get a bit more creative and look for giant, outdoor versions of popular table games like Jenga or Connect 4. Or throw it back with lawn darts or croquet. For people who prefer to relax in the shade, make sure you have some playing cards or board games available, and games for the kids, too.
Prepare for the Pups
Your acquaintances with dogs might want to bring them to the party, and if that’s something you’re okay with, make sure you are prepared for Fido, too. Place dog bowls full of water in the yard to keep them from overheating and have some treats on hand. You can even grab some cheap dog toys to keep them entertained while their owners enjoy your fantastic spread.
And remember, since you’ll be entertaining outside, make sure everyone is safe in the sun. Have lots of water available, and allow guests to cool off inside if they need to. Also, provide sunscreen and bug repellent to keep everyone comfortable and happy.