Summer has arrived, and unlike last summer, many of us are once again welcoming the idea of hosting friends and family. An excellent way to bring everyone together safely is by throwing a backyard .
An American staple for generations, these outdoor gatherings are a perfect way to reconnect with your friends, get to know your neighbors, or spend some quality time with your closest loved ones.
Additionally, it can be a fantastic way to show off your lawn. Don’t let all your hard work and dedication go to waste. Make your backyard the focal point of your next get-together.
Steps to Planning a Backyard BBQ
When planning a backyard BBQ, there are a few things to keep in mind: from the presentation of your outdoor space to how to create a safe environment for all of your friends and family.
Check out our ultimate guide to help get you started for your next backyard barbecue grill.
Step One: Prepare Your Lawn for Your Backyard BBQ
The first step in ensuring your event goes smoothly is to spend time perfecting your backyard oasis. Does the lawn need a quick trim? If so, pull out your mower and try your hand at making some lawn stripes to instantly amplify the “wow” factor.
Have you watered your plants today? If not, give them a quick watering so they’re looking extra healthy for the party. Even simpler, have your sprinkler or other irrigation system take care of it for you. The smallest task can help create a healthy, vibrant atmosphere for your barbecue guests.
Once you’re happy with the appearance of your lawn, it’s time to prepare a space for your guests. Staging your patio barbeque is an essential part of creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for your family and friends.
Open up that patio umbrella, wipe down the table and chairs. Consider setting up an additional table specifically for the food. Creating a prep station helps your guests make their plates and save some room at their dining table.
Make sure your setup has a natural flow to it. For instance, you wouldn’t want the condiments to be at the front of your prep area if your family hasn’t filled their plate yet.
A beautiful backyard layout extends beyond how you prep your dinner table. Set up some of your most colorful lawn ornaments like flags, paper windmills, or other wind-friendly streamers for a bold, cheerful atmosphere.
If you go for a more minimal approach, try selecting one or two conversation pieces like a custom wind chime, a stone birdbath or a large glass gazing ball. These can be just enough to add some character to your lawn without being too distracting for your visitors.
Chances are you will still be cooking and grilling so your guests may need some entertainment while they wait to eat. Plan for this by having some yard games and other activities available. Whether that’s a trampoline or your freshly cleaned pool, your guests will appreciate an interactive way to pass the time.
Even if you go with a smaller activity like lawn dice, a cornhole set, a frisbee or a football, keeping your company occupied does not have to be one of your hosting challenges if you plan ahead.
Even if you’re only cooking for your immediate family, they’ll appreciate you going the extra mile to create an inviting space to gather outside.
Step Two: Choose the Best Menu
A backyard grill bbq is nothing without a delicious menu for all of your guests. Selecting the perfect menu begins with taking stock of what you have in your kitchen, in your garden, and in your recipe collection.
If you want to wow your guests with a dish that’s special to you, maybe it’s time to dust off your old family recipe books. These recipes can be comforting for your guests, especially if they’ve been passed down through the generations.
If you don’t have access to the old cookbooks but still want to impress your guests, surf the net for a variety of grilling ideas sure to please any palette. From chicken kabobs to grilled veggies and even a sweet treat, you’re sure to fill your guests' bellies with a little help from the world wide web.
When planning your menu, think of your guests and their likes and dislikes. For example, if you know your uncle hates seafood and you don’t have any other options this could be a problem.
Additionally, if some of your family or friends have particular dietary needs related to dairy, gluten, meat or any food-related allergies, you should take all of these under consideration as well.
Even if these guests do plan on bringing some of their own diet-friendly foods, taking the steps to provide a couple of options for them will be sure to impress.
Take inventory of what you have at home. If you planted some lettuce or tomatoes, these are great toppings for a tasty burger. Freshly grown basil compliments just about everything from chicken and kabobs to caprese salad.
Grow you own fresh basil with the help of our guide on how to grow basil.
Onions and peppers are perfect for cheesesteaks, pizzas, and even your pulled pork, hot dogs and smoked sausages. Plus, the more vegetable options you have the happier your vegan guests will be.
Get creative with your meals by experimenting with the ingredients you have on hand. Whether it's from a local produce stand or freshly grown from your backyard garden, adding a personal touch to your meal will go a long way with your guests.
The fruits (and vegetables) of your labor will come in handy when creating the menu for your big event. A perfect meal is made even better by choosing incredible side dishes.
French fries and onion rings might be your trusty go-to’s, but having a lot of options for your family can elevate your barbecue just a little more. A fresh garden salad is a good alternative. A homemade potato salad or even some garden fresh vegetables will compliment your main course.
Once again, make sure you're taking into consideration all of the dietary needs of your guests. While it can be fun to get creative with your cooking, depending on who your guests are you may want to play it safe.
Lastly, stock up a refreshment cart or cooler with your favorite beverages and make sure it is easily accessible for all of your guests. Just be careful anyone underage has their drinks separate from the more adult refreshments.
You can also create a space for a backyard mini-bar in order to make some fresh summer-friendly cocktails for your guests. Pluck some garden fresh mint for a refreshing mojito or save some of your breakfast orange juice for a classic tequila sunrise.
Step Three: Keep Your Backyard BBQ Gathering Safe
Despite nearly half of the United States now being fully vaccinated, it is still important to keep health and safety precautions in mind, especially with the recent COVID variants spreading globally.
According to the CDC COVID-19 guidelines, fully vaccinated people can resume most activities without wearing a mask or social distancing, aside from when required by state, local, and other laws including workplace and business guidelines.
It never hurts to air on the side of caution, so be sure that your backyard layout has plenty of room for any guests that wish to social distance. If you and your party are still easing your way into entertaining, this could mean spacing out the seating or even just having plenty of standing room.
Closed containers and straws are a great way to keep your beverages safe and separate. Additionally, providing some PPE couldn’t hurt. Supplying hand sanitizer and masks will not only help with peace of mind, but serve as added protection just in case.
Keeping your backyard barbecue safe goes beyond fighting the coronavirus disease. Mother Nature has plenty of other unexpected ways to interrupt your fun.
Check the weather forecast. Is it going to rain? Or maybe there’s a heat advisory in your area? Try using a weather app to anticipate any sudden changes in the weather.
With record heat waves sweeping the nation, it might be a good idea for everyone’s health and safety to provide plenty of water and other hydrating beverages, as well as plenty of shade and somewhere with some air conditioning to give your guests a break from the summer sun.
If you don’t have a lot of room in your house or garage, a pop-up tent and a portable air conditioner can supply a surprisingly high level of comfort from the midday heat. Lastly, make sure you have a first aid station nearby for any sudden emergencies.
Ointment and bandages for cuts or a slightly burned hand from grilling, over the counter allergy relief for seasonal allergy sufferers, and ample amounts of sunscreen are just a few of the health items you may need during your summer barbecue.
Step Four: Plan for Post-Dinner Activities
Sometimes it can be hard to mingle with your guests if you’re the one preparing the meal. This is why it is important to set aside some time at the end of the day for some post-dinner activities.
Put the final touches on your yard to anticipate the sudden after-meal downtime. A fire pit can help set the mood especially as the sun begins to set. We recently reviewed some of the best fire pits for this summer.
In the mood to roast marshmallows or make some s’mores? Plan ahead and set aside all of the necessary ingredients and tools (like skewers) you’ll need to do the roasting.
Of course, you could also have your guests roast their own hot dog during meal time in which case your fire pit will already be hot when it comes time for dessert. Outdoor entertainment is a great way to spend some quality time with your loved ones.
If you’re musically inclined, singing campfire songs with your group could be a fun activity to get things started. Campfire stories are always in fashion, too, and can even be great icebreakers for anyone relatively new to the family.
A more contemporary form of backyard entertainment that has become increasingly popular is a backyard movie night.
Time to Enjoy Your Backyard BBQ
Just make sure you take a little time beforehand to familiarize yourself with the setup and controls especially if it is your first time hosting an outdoor movie. However you decide to host your backyard barbecue, your lawn should remain the center of attention.
For more ideas on how to elevate your backyard hosting experience, check out the ultimate buyer’s guide for the best propane fire pits of 2021.
The more time you spend planning ahead for your big day, the fewer chances you will be unprepared for whatever might happen. Most importantly, put the needs of your family and friends first, and your backyard BBQ will go off without a hitch.