Somehow the first day of summer was here and already gone. How did I miss it? Before we know it, the Fourth of July will be here. That’s when I know we are in the thick of summer and all that comes with it: barbecues, swimming pools, baseball games, picnics, movies at the park, etc.
Barbecue parties are one of my personal favorite parts of summer. A great barbecue party is something that just can’t be beat. On the other hand, a lackluster barbecue party can be a total bummer; with only a few details, it could have been a great one.
What Makes a Barbecue Great
What does everyone expect at a barbecue? FOOD! And not just meat. Think beyond the meat, my dear carnivore friends. Showing up to a barbecue that only has meat is like showing up to a garden show that only has daisies. If I could put sound effects to this blog post, there would be the sound of a crowd booing right now.
Grill your burgers, steaks, and hot dogs, but also try veggies on kabobs, corn on the cob, pineapple slices, sliced potatoes in tinfoil, let your imagination run wild. For dessert, put marshmallows and chocolate chips in a waffle cone and cover it all with a piece of tinfoil. Place on the grill and in a few minutes you have a campfire cone that rivals the best s’more.
Invite friends to bring a salad to share or their favorite bag of chips. Don’t forget the ketchup!
Keep it Chill
Drinks are important to a successful barbecue, so plan accordingly. The best tip I can ever give about drinks is to keep them cold. Refrigerate or freeze them the day before, because an already cold drink has a better chance of staying cold than a warm drink does trying to get cold.
Plan Activities Other Than Eating and Talking
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of your guests could be immediately chummy and never get bored? Especially while you are busy manning the barbecue?
Don’t count on it. Have some music going, a few games to play, and, if necessary, create some conversation starters written on strips of paper for your guests to use. You can purchase Table Topics cards to help your guests strike up an interesting conversation or do a home-made version using your own creativity. Here are a few to get you started:
- If you could eat only one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What is your favorite 4th of July activity?
- If you won $10 million, what is the first thing you would buy?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
What do you do to provide great music for your barbeque? I like to create playlists for special occasions so I can set the music and forget it, knowing ahead of time that I’ve selected some great music.
With the upcoming 4th of July holiday here are some suggestions for a customized independence day playlist depending on your musical tastes:
- Rockin’ America: contemporary favorites from Miley Cyrus to Muse’s United States of Eurasia
- 4th of July Standards: this is the ultimate list of the quintessential holiday songs with everything from Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” to Celine Dion’s “God Bless America”
- American Classics: Sousa’s “Stars and Strips Forever” and Copeland’s “Rodeo” made it to this shortlist of patriotic songs by American composers.
Seriously. Decorate your space up a little bit. I am not talking one hundred tikki torches and miles of crepe paper, but a little mood décor goes a long way. For the Fourth of July, put some blue hydrangeas in red buckets on all of the tables. Throw up some twinkle lights, pull out all of your little flags, and put some light-up sparklers on all of the place settings.Pinterest and Martha Stewart are full of great ideas to get your creative decorating juices going.
Or, How About a Picnic?
If barbecues aren’t your thing (or you don’t own a grill of any sort), grab some sandwiches, make a cool dessert, pack up your cooler and head out. Don’t forget a blanket and some pillows. The good picnics last all night long.
What is your favorite kind of summer party? Do you have plans for this Fourth of July? What do you grill other than meat that makes you friends and guests go crazy?Summers are for Barbecuing by Jessica Johnson