Tips for Hosting The Perfect Backyard Barbecue

Backyard Bbq Setup

Believe it or not, the weather is finally nice enough to start planning your backyard barbecues. Gone are the days of early spring when there is really no telling if next weekend will be gorgeous or freezing. So get out your calendars, pull together a cute e-vite and let’s start planning!

If you don’t entertain often, inviting the neighborhood or a few friends over for a Saturday afternoon cookout may feel overwhelming. But don’t you worry, I’ve got some super simple tips to make your barbecue perfectly easy.


Prep Work
The key to a stress-free party is always prep work. A little work ahead of time goes a long way. Simply marinating all of your meats or preparing your burger patties the night before can save you time and energy the day of the barbecue. I also like to lay everything out (or as much as is reasonable) a day or two before the party so that you can verify that you’ve got everything you need. In the world of party planning, nothing is more flustering than discovering when it’s time to put the chicken on the grill that you can’t find your barbecue tongs.

You can also pick recipes that can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, like an ice cream pie, which can be made a few days beforehand and left in the freezer. Ice cream pies are one of the easiest and most popular summer desserts you can make and all you need is a graham cracker or chocolate piecrust, half a gallon of ice cream and some toppings. Simply let the ice cream soften on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes to an hour, scoop the ice cream into the pie shell, add your toppings and freeze.

Then there is always my favorite Texas Caviar recipe, which is extremely addictive. Seriously, I have to make someone take the bowl away from me. It’s not a pretty sight.

Texas Caviar
1 can black beans
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can corn
1 small jar (4 ounce size) pimiento
1 cup green pepper chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar

Drain beans, peas, corn and pimiento and mix together with green pepper, celery and onion.

In a saucepan, bring water, salt, black pepper, vinegar, oil and sugar to a boil. Cool completely. Pour over bean mixture and allow to marinate in the refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving.

When it is party time, drain and serve with tortilla chips. Texas Caviar can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Pitching In
Without fail, whenever you invite friends over they always ask what they can bring. So why not take them up on their offer? Having one friend bring a salad and another bring a dessert will not only save you time and energy, your guests will be happy they could chip in. If you’re anything like me the thought of showing up to a party empty handed is unthinkable. The way I see it, when someone has cleaned the house, cooked all day and is planning to clean up after me, the least I can do is whip up a batch of brownies. If you aren’t much of a cook, don’t worry–there is nothing wrong with picking up cookies from the local bakery.

One of my favorite parts of planning a party is presentation. I just love adding themed touches and, boy, is that easy to do with a backyard barbecue because so much of what you need is probably in your garage, basement or the kids’ toy box. For instance, if you are struggling with how to keep drinks cold outside so that your guests don’t have to run into the house every time they want a refill, why not pull our your kids old red wagon? Yep, the red wagon. Line it with a black trash bag, throw in some ice and you’ve got an adorable focal point to keep cans and bottles cold.

Yep, I did it. I turned all of my tips into a series of P’s. If you’ve read my book Party Planning Tips for the Clueless Chick, you’ve noticed I like to do this. Remembering lists is so much easier when they get stuck in you head like a slightly aggravating song “prep work, pitching in, presentation.” Look, you’re singing already.

As always, my key takeaway is to keep it simple. If your budget allows for you to hire a caterer and wait staff, by all means, have at it! For the rest of us commoners, the trick is to plan a fun and relaxing party that you will enjoy as much as your guests.

Happy grilling!

Until next time,

Categories: The Clueless Chick