'Tis the season to eat, drink and socialize outdoors! I'm all for the summer soirees - the more the merrier. Of course, it's only fair that my friends and family share the hosting responsibilities - and my summer barbecue is the first thing on the calendar. The pressure is on to get the summer gatherings off to a good start. Cue the planning, effective immediately.
Ready to throw the barbecue your friends will talk about all summer? Here are some ideas and tips to help with the planning:
Decorate the backyard
Make sure you have the seating areas, dining surfaces, shady spaces and appropriate lighting to host your summer barbecue. Mowing the lawn and sprucing up the landscaping will also prep your outdoor spaces for the party.
Specifically for the barbecue, set up condiment displays, create food labels, lay out the tablecloths, hang banners and blow up balloons to create a festive vibe. When possible, double the decor with practical elements, such as guiding guests to the trash and recycling bins by labeling colorful buckets with stick-on vinyl letters or posters. You can even take the decor up a notch with a designated theme.
Heat up the grill
Make sure the star of the show is ready to cook up the burgers, dogs, chicken, veggies and other sustenance for the affair. Taste of Home suggested prepping your grill for summer with a top-to-bottom inspection and deep cleaning, plus upgrading your tools if they've seen better days.
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When you're ready to grill, you can borrow some ideas from Fourth of July recipes, considering the holiday is the height of summer celebrations. Country Living also served up some summer grilling recipes, including ones beyond the usual suspects like grilled shrimp tacos, pineapple teriyaki chicken wraps, charred gem lettuce, grilled potato salad and mini portobello burgers.
Fill up the plates
You'll also want to plan for snacks and sides beyond the grill to keep the food coming. Break out your best summer appetizer recipes and go-to’s, including the salsa, guacamole, skewers, deviled eggs and pigs-in-a-blanket. If you need some inspiration, check out these recipes from Food Network and summer party appetizer ideas from Delish.
Quench the thirst
Keep everyone hydrated with a strong supply of water, soda and adult beverages. If you're going for the healthier versions, consider infusing water with fruit or stocking up on flavored seltzer water. Another genius idea from Country Living: Set up a lemonade stand. It will keep the kids busy and the refreshments aplenty.
For a boozy upgrade, consider setting up an outdoor bar to give guests the option to mix their own beverages. Alternatively, whip up a classic pitcher drink, such as sangria, punch, margarita or wine spritzer.
Keep the mosquitoes away
There's nothing like some pesky mosquitoes to ruin the vibe as the sun goes down. Thankfully, Garden Therapy shared an easy trick to make sure they don't get in the way. Simply add some fresh sprigs of sage, lavender, mint, lemon balm or citronella to your fire pit or warm grill after cooking and the smell will ward away the mosquitoes. For extra defense, you can light citronella candles and supply bug-repellent spray for your guests.
Finally, make sure your summer maintenance tasks are complete before the guests arrive. Not only will your home look its best, but your efforts can also prevent inconvenient breakdowns or system issues from crashing the party.
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