How to Host the Perfect Summer Barbecue

The summer barbecue party is an American national pass time. Here are a few tips to pull off a party that will be stress free for the host, and memorable for the guests.

  • Send out invitations. If you are over 25, or have class, a Facebook Event post is not the way to go. Send out invitations with an RSVP at least two weeks prior to the barbecue. This will give you a general idea of how much food and booze to have on hand. 
  • Be smart during set-up. Always set up 2 tables: one for dining and one for food. Have a third set up as your bar. Guests serve themselves. Place the bar where you want the action to be. Stack plates and pre-rolled silverware at each end to prevent traffic jams. Put the food on the buffet. All your toppings—ketchup, mustard, cheese—go on the dining table. And have a seperate table for any children that will be there. The adults will appreciate it.
  • Be food safety conscious. Some condiments such as mayo are barbecue essentials, but can also become dangerous as they sit and warm up. Switch to an egg free mayo such as Just Mayo for your next get together. Since it contains no egg, the culprit in food poisoning, it is safer than traditional mayo. And it is rich and delicious. Keep salad dressings vinegar and oil based, and switch out the mayo based potato salad for a fresh pasta and olive oil based one. And of course, make sure those burgers are cooked until done inside.
  • Do not ask guests to bring food. This is faux pas. You are the host. You provide all of the refreshments and food. 
  • Show some flair. Decorate. For a casual party, simple decorations such as small pots of plants or fresh flowers from the garden will suffice. For more elaborate gatherings, think folded linens and floral vases. It is not girly, it is civilized. 
  • Simplify the home bar. To make the bar easy, don’t offer any drinks that call for a blender or complicated mixers. Think classics. Gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey, and wine. Keep the mixers to soda, tonic, and maybe a pre-made sour. Keep plenty of fresh cut lemons and limes ready. Don't forget the napkins. And have several non-alcoholic beverages available for the designated drivers, minors, and prudes.
  • Keep the kiddos occupied. Have some games set up that will keep them happy, busy, and out from under foot. Corn Hole, Ladder Toss, Bocce, and even Croquet.
  • Prep for a perfect ending. We all have those friends that never know when to leave. A diplomatic way to drive home the fact that the party is over is to simply ask "What food can I send you home with?" It works every time.
The most important thing to remember is to ensure that everyone is having a good time, yourself included. The host sets the tone for the entire gathering. If you are stressed, it will show. Get your proverbial ducks in a row so that you can mingle and enjoy the company.

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