Do you really need a reason to fire up your BBQ table grill? If you do, we've got you: It's party time!
Whether you're celebrating a birthday, holiday, or an event like an anniversary or baby shower, a backyard bash is a memorable way to focus on fun. While you can certainly just put out the APB on social media to get friends and family to swing by, a little planning can make the day even more special.
Here are our top 10 tips for the ultimate backyard party:
1. Send Out Invitations
How can your guests know when you're firing up your BBQ table grill, so you don't have to continually cook all evening? It might seem old-fashioned, but you can easily tell them with themed invitations.
Whether you're mailing paper invites or sending a cute email template, creating an invite list is your first step to planning your fiesta. As well as explaining the theme of the party, invites can also let your friends and family know when the grill will be lit, what they should wear, and whether kids are welcome.
Don't forget to include your rain contingency plan, not like you'll need it, right?
2. Make Your Menu
Of course, you'll want to have a variety of meats ready for barbecuing — but that should be just the beginning of your menu. Think about the side dishes that go well with whatever you're grilling. Baked beans, salads, breads, coleslaw, and grilled veggies like corn on the cob are classics everyone loves.
Many people have specialized diets, so think ahead to avoid any embarrassment. Vegetarians and those who follow gluten-free diets can struggle to feel satisfied when the BBQ table grill is front-and-center. Offer options to help everyone feel included and full.
3. Go Easy on the Decorating
You may be surprised at how easy it is to turn your backyard into a backdrop worthy of Instagram. The key is to keep it simple and allow nature to take centerstage.
Surprise gusts of wind can lift up tablecloths and knock over large centerpieces. Instead, use double-stick tape to keep placemats where they belong. Instead of fanciful arrangements from the florist, try big bowls of water with a single, elegant bloom or a handful of tealights.
If you are blessed with flowering bushes in your landscaping, integrate beauty from the garden in your decorations. Fresh herbs and flowers in small vases tucked around the bar cart or inside in a guest bathroom are thoughtful and sweet.
4. Create Ambience with Lights
Especially if you want your guests to linger into the evening, you'll need to plan a backyard lighting plan beyond the normal, glaring outdoor lights. Try strings of lights festooned from your deck or in tree branches for a warm, soft glow.
There are plenty of pretty string lights available to purchase, but that's just the beginning. For a more dramatic party feel, opt for large, colorful paper lanterns. Or, stick with the classic hurricane lanterns with fuel that often includes citronella as a bug repellent.
Worried about the electrical cords? Don't create opportunities for your guests to trip after the sun sets. Cut old wire clothing hangers using a wire cutter and bend small pieces into the shape of a "U." Then, like a croquet wicket, you can push the wire pieces into the ground to safely staple down your cords.
5. Invest in a Bluetooth Sound System
What's a party without tunes? While there's no need to blast the music, you should prepare a soundtrack that makes mingling and, perhaps, dancing irresistible to your guests. Create a playlist or line up your favorite artists on your smart device beforehand.
If your backyard is big enough, you'll need to add speakers strategically. Bluetooth speaker systems can connect directly to your smart device and limit unsightly wires.
6. Create Small "Nooks"
While you're hanging lights and staging your sound system, think about creating areas for your guests to gather in smaller conversations. If your party is during the day, open up umbrellas or hang sails for shade over a smattering of cushioned seats. Don't forget to clean your cushions if they've been outside for a while.
Make sure there are seats for everyone. You may need to rent folding chairs or bring furniture out from the inside. Offer a vary of seating so all your guests feel comfortable.
7. Have Games to Play
Whether children are invited or not, you'll want to have some activities available — beyond chatting and digging into the goods from the BBQ table grill. Many people simply feel more comfortable socializing when they're playing a game.
Again, keep it simple. Have croquet, horseshoes, or a cornhole court set up and ready for whomever wants it. If you have a pool and want to encourage your guests to cool off, don't forget to mention it in your invitation.
8. Have a Signature Cocktail
You don't want to be stuck playing bartender all night. Have a well-stocked bar with all the essentials, including ice, glasses, and a cocktail shaker, in a corner of your yard. Play with your theme by featuring a recipe and ingredients for a signature cocktail, too. Bonus points if the cocktail is tasty without the alcohol, for those who avoid it.
9. Have Extra Coolers and Buffet Space Ready
A gracious host is always prepared to accommodate surprise additions, even when the invitation makes it clear that bringing dishes and beverages aren't necessary. Some guests will always want to contribute.
Stage a few coolers filled with plenty of ice near your bar area, so people can chill their drinks without overflowing your refrigerator. Prepare a space for potluck-style dishes, and make sure you're ready with extra serving utensils.
10. Don't Forget Dessert
Your BBQ table grill can do more than serve up the main course. Since it's likely a popular gathering spot in your backyard, use it for dessert, too. You can bake cookies or brownies on a pizza stone, or provide a tray of chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows for guests to build their own s'mores.
By including a sweet treat toward the end of the party, you'll also provide a graceful clue to guests that the evening is wrapping up. This subtle timeline makes it easy — and delicious — for guests to end the festivities with a smile.