Create a Guest List
The first order of business in hosting the perfect barbecue is planning a guest list. The rest of your party will depend upon what sorts of people and how many will be attending. You will want to plan a slightly different event for family than you would for your old college friends, and you will most likely engage in different activities if the majority of your guests are single and in their early 20s rather than new parents in their 30s.
The number of guests you invite plays a large role in your barbecue, but whether small, intimate parties are better or worse than large, outrageous parties is a matter of taste. However, if you have a long guest list, you will want to expand the hours of the barbecue to allow everyone enough time to arrive and have some fun. A well-rounded barbecue will include a mix of guests and just enough people so that everyone has comfortable seating options without having to spill out of the primary party area.
Although it was once considered necessary to send paper invitations, electronic invitations through email or social media are acceptable. You will want to ask guests to RSVP to help in your planning, and it is a good idea to follow up twice: once to confirm they were received and again a day or two before the event for final RSVP confirmations.
A Time and a Place
After deciding whom to invite, the next step is choosing a venue. Most hosts prefer to hold barbecues in their own backyards, but an extremely large guest list may require you to choose another location. The primary concerns when deciding upon a place are having enough space for everyone to be comfortable and having an outdoor area for a gas or charcoal grill.
A backyard is the choice of most hosts because it is more intimate and provides easy access to a variety of accessories, including dishes, utensils and furniture. If you want access to a particular activity or simply need more space, a public recreational facility, such as a park, lake or beach, is a great choice, but you may have to limit the hours of the party, reserve a space beforehand or get to the site early in order to claim it.
While barbecues can be hosted any day of the week, the best days for your party are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Fridays, you will want to hold the party in the evening, such as from 6:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m., but this time is not perfect for guests with small children. Saturdays and Sundays are usually better for barbecues than Fridays are. The best times on Saturday range from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sundays, the best times are between 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Decorations, Furniture and Themes
Many hosts like to throw theme parties, and inviting people to wear certain colors or costumes can certainly make your barbecue unique and memorable. When it is held on a holiday, it is easy to choose a theme, but other days may require a little creativity. You can buy packages of decorations to establish a specific theme, but some of the best theme parties are those that spring directly from your imagination.
When it comes to furniture, you will want to have enough seating for everyone, and your guests will appreciate having somewhere comfortable to sit. Patio furniture and picnic tables are exceptional seating options, but an even better choice is to use huge bean bag chairs. Bean bag chairs are not only comfortable and ergonomic but also offer several other advantages over other types of furniture:
• Huge bean bag chairs provide seating for multiple people.
• Bean bag furniture is water, weather and stain resistant.
• Bean bags are easy to clean
• Huge bean bag chairs are stylish and decorative
Food and Drinks
The next item on the agenda when planning the perfect barbecue is the menu, and this may be the most compelling element for your guests. When planning a small barbecue, it is perfectly fine to provide all of the food and drinks, but many people holding large events prefer a potluck menu. One great idea that combines both of the previous is to provide five or six food items, including main course options, while asking each guest to bring one side dish or dessert.
You should have a variety of soft drinks and adult drinks available for your guests. Water is always essential, but a selection of fruit juice, lemonade and soda will keep everyone happy. When it comes to adult beverages, beer and wine will serve your barbecue well, but for an added touch, you may want to prepare a pitcher or two of mixed drinks, such as margaritas or daiquiris.
Your menu should include a variety of appetizers, salads, main courses and side dishes. Always have vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available for guests who may have dietary restrictions. You will also want to include a wide array of dressings and condiments so that all of your guests have options that are perfect for their palates.
Music, Activities and Entertainment
No barbecue is complete without music, games and other activities. For music, you should have a variety of choices available so that you can play songs that appeal to everyone at some point during the party. Many people are now using online radio applications, such as Pandora and Spotify, for all of their music needs. With these applications, you can quickly switch stations or spotlight specific artists and genres.
The activities at your barbecue may be open or planned. A pool or another body of water may be enough, but competitive games can add fun and excitement. One simple idea is a game of bean bag toss, also known as cornhole, but other great games for barbecues include bocce, croquet, horseshoes and badminton.