The weather is warming up, which can only mean one thing: It’s barbecue time! Of course, not everyone is a natural born grillmaster. For some, the thought of picking up the torch — literally and figuratively — can be pretty overwhelming. If you’re worried about having what it takes to be the ultimate BBQ host, don’t fret. Think about your hosting responsibilities in easy-to-break-down chunks to make planning a little easier (and a whole lot more fun)!

How To Throw The Ultimate Backyard Barbecue

by Mekita Rivas

The weather is warming up, which can only mean one thing: It’s barbecue time! Of course, not everyone is a natural born grillmaster. For some, the thought of picking up the torch — literally and figuratively — can be pretty overwhelming. If you’re worried about having what it takes to be the ultimate BBQ host, don’t fret. Think about your hosting responsibilities in easy-to-break-down chunks to make planning a little easier (and a whole lot more fun)!  

Barbecue and Wine DCanter

The more, the merrier

Fun people = a fun time for everyone! Check that Facebook friends list and invite all the people who know how to have a good time. A smart rule of thumb for casual gatherings like BBQs is to let your guests bring along some of their close friends. To simplify the invitation process, try using tools like Postable to create an online address book.

Plan your playlist

So, you roll up to a BBQ, but how do you really know which backyard to go into? It’s the one with the awesome music bumpin’, naturally! Spotify has an excellent selection of playlists for the summer season. You can opt for one of their expertly curated options, or you can create your own collection of tunes. Running a little low on time? Make it collaborative — it’ll be a win-win situation: Everyone knows they’ll get to hear something they like, and you’ll have one less detail to worry about yourself.

Food comes first

BBQ: It’s in the name, it’s what we’re all thinking about, it’s the main motivation to do this thing, right? BBQs are notoriously best when they’re potluck style, so why reinvent the wheel? Pick a couple easy side dishes, and share the workload with your guests. Another option? Provide the main lineup — hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, etc. — and ask your attendees to bring an appetizer or dessert to share with the group.

Remember the refreshments

You could buy that massive case of cheap beer, or you could leave that one to your attendees. (Let’s be honest: Someone will inevitably bring that case of Bud Light.) Our suggestion? Make a large pitcher of something that really says summer. Sangria is always a safe bet, although these three-ingredient wine slushies are definitely appealing as well. Besides creating a refreshing libation, don’t forget to stock up on wines, too. Some of our favorites these days include:

Quinta da Raza Vinho Verde 2019
The ultimate summer sipper, this Vinho Verde is a great, low alcohol wine that can be enjoyed by the pool, at backyard barbecues, or just as a refreshment with light lunches.

Dúzsi Tamás Kékfrankos Rozé 2018
A cocktail of citrus fruits dominates on the nose, including grapefruit, lime, and gooseberries. Try this with grilled swordfish paired with a tropical fruit salsa, fish tacos, or Asian salads.

Poppy Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Fresh on the palate with pleasingly ripe, high-toned fruit reflecting the aromas and a slightly grippy finish. It's an easy Cab to enjoy in the summer. Try it with grilled poultry, pastas, or earthy grains.

Plan interactive icebreakers

There’s nothing worse than walking into a BBQ, milling about, and then noticing that everyone is standing around with that “What now?” look on their face. Here are some suggestions to ensure that your guests have fun well into the wee hours of the night.

  • Hula Hoops: Let people grab these as they please, and who knows — you just might start a hula hooping competition! See who can keep it going the longest and award the winner with a special prize.
  • Playing Cards: Nothing beats a good ol’ fashioned game of gin rummy, poker, or whatever your card game of choice is. If you’re not super familiar with card games, check out this list of more than 40 games. You’re sure to recognize something, but if not, print out the list and ask your party guests to make the selection.
  • Cool Off Station: It’s hot, and the one thing that helps beat the heat is getting in the water. Turn those sprinklers on if you’re not under a water restriction. And if you don’t have access to a pool, why not bring the pool to you? Stop by the store and grab some kiddie pools for folks to rest their feet in and help keep cool.

Secure the supplies

You’ll want to pick up ice, citronella candles, bug spray, fuel for the grill, condiments, and disposable cutlery and flatware. And of course: Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Without a doubt, though, the most important element of hosting a BBQ is having fun! Don’t forget to enjoy the big party that you put so much time and effort into planning. Because if you’re having fun, your guests will, too!