Is there anything more summery than the smell of charcoal burning on a freshly-lit grill, a rainbow of summer fruits, picture-perfect lemonade, fresh grilled veggies on skewers, and a backyard filled with your family and friends celebrating the beautiful summer day together?
Summertime just begs us to entertain our friends outdoors, and you know that you will undoubtedly be socializing at a whole lot of summer barbecues this year. Those barbecues are of course going to be great, but after a few of them, they all start to look the same.
This year, don’t throw a great backyard barbecue. Throw a perfect, memorable, sensational, all-out, everyone-can’t-stop-talking-about-the-food barbecue that will make you the envy of everyone in your social circle. And you will not need to hire a caterer and event planner to do it either.
Choose a Theme
Don’t all the best parties have a theme? From costumed Wild West to musical Elvis Presley to a Hawaiian luau to sophisticated nautical themes, there are so many ways that you can add flair to your barbecue by establishing a starting theme before you plan.
A theme is a great way to design a menu, create a cohesive decorating plan, and select the best activities to entertain your guests. No matter what your theme, both you and your guests will be happy that there is an overarching story to your party beyond grilled foods.
Send Your Invitations
The invitations that you send, whether digital and emailed or hand-made and delivered, will let your friends and family know what your theme is, what to expect to find at your barbecue, which food or drinks to bring to the party, and how to dress comfortably or thematically to match your motif.
There is a staggering amount of premade and customizable invitations available online, and many shops at Etsy.com will let you customize and download them for free.
Plan Your Menu
Here is where your barbecue goes from average to spectacular. Everyone loves hanging out and socializing, but the food is the star of the show at every barbecue.
Here’s an easy way to make the boring to bold transition with your food choices:
Stay near your theme. If your theme is a luau, your guests expect Hawaiian food staples like pork, poi, and pineapples. Serving them delicate cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches will only confuse and disappoint everyone.
Serve appetizers, side dishes, main dishes, and dessert options to impress by upgrading your food delivery. Shot glasses of chocolate mousses, one-bite open-faced sandwiches, and skewers are perfect for fast cleanup and keeping your guests walking and talking while they eat.
Deconstruct BBQ food staples. Yes, a burger on a bun is a classic, but if your theme is a luau, grilled pork and beef sliders on a sweet Hawaiian roll and topped with sweet and salty teriyaki sauce or grilled pineapple pizzas will be devoured quickly with a smile.
If it can be a topper, dip, or side for your main course, it should be available for your guests at a toppings station. Burgers can be topped with a variety of veggies, melted cheese, ketchup, mayo, mustard, guacamole, grilled onions, thousand island dressing, bacon, blue cheese crumbles… the list goes on and on forever, but don’t worry – a few options will be more than enough!
This is not a child’s birthday party, so there is no need to decorate to the nines to work a theme into your outdoor space. Keep the majority of your items simple and chic, and accent with your theme.
Well-chosen details, like tablecloths, centerpieces, candles, place settings, flowers, and lighting can do wonders for delivering a cohesive theme that will dazzle your guests.
Upgrade Your Drinks
Wine and beers may be the go-to for backyard barbecues, but there are some great ways to improve your bar game.
First, set up a drink station where everyone can grab their cups, ice, shakers, bottle openers, and drink toppings are easily identified and accessible. Second, upgrade your drink service before anyone gets there. Freeze some small fruits in your ice cubes for a fruity drink addition, freeze some water in the bottom of your shot glasses for chilled liquors, and create a signature mixed drink to match your theme.
Is there anything better than a gift that reminds you of the great time you just had? Making simple, thematic “thanks for coming” gifts is incredibly easy and will make sure that your friends remember your party for years to come. Small jars of honey, kettle corn popcorn bags, barbecue meat rub, recipe cards for your signature drink, or anything that would make your guests smile.