Ultimate Summer BBQ Checklist (With 46 Tips)

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We thought it would never come, but summer is just over the horizon! And there's nothing better on a hot day than to fire up the barbecue and invite your nearest and dearest round for some fun and food.

So to help make your next BBQ extra special, we've put together the essential checklist for a day that everyone will remember. Read on to find out our 46 top tips for the ultimate summer BBQ.

 

Preparation

In advance of the grand day, check you've done all the tasks that help 'set the scene'.

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1. Mow the lawn. Begin preparations by giving your lawn a fresh trim. It's the place where the main action will take place, so check there are no grubby mole hills or prickly thistles left to ruin bare feet.

2. Hose off the garden furniture. It's been gathering dust since you put it away in the shade last September, so dust off the cobwebs and scrub up your garden furniture for the summer.

3. Make a pile of blankets. Clear skies are great for sunny afternoons, but they often lead to cool evenings. Cushions for hard chairs and plenty of blankets will keep everyone warm once the sun goes down.

4. Clean out the oven. Scrub out the oven; after all, it's going to be put to a lot of use soon! If your oven door is clean it'll be easier to see how food is cooking inside, not making any dishes late for serving.

5. Wipe down kitchen surfaces. It's always best to get off to a clean start before the onslaught of mess that comes from hosting! Take time to wipe surfaces like the hob and draining board that don't often get a look in.

6. Wash up. Any washing up left over from yesterday's dinner or today's breakfast will get in the way once the BBQ is underway. Tidy away any clean crockery so it stays clean.

7. Make sure you have enough glasses. All your guests will want drinks so don't get caught out by having to use mugs when you've run out of glasses! Alternatively, cardboard cups will save all that washing up (just make sure you recycle them afterwards).

8. Stock up on toilet roll. The toilet will be used more than usual with a lot of guests inhabiting one house! Make sure there's an extra roll or two beforehand, and top up the hand soap.

9. Wage war on the weeds. Summer is a time for your garden to shine at its best. Take a trowel to any stray weeds poking out of patios, or hovering by garden pots.

10. Invest in lots of napkins! Hands will be sticky with grease and oil most of the day, so have plenty of napkins ready for whenever someone needs to wipe their hands or mouth. They're great for accidental spillages too!

11. Let your neighbours know. It's important to have fun, but remember those you live next to day in and day out. Letting them know in advance you'll be having a gathering will ensure good neighbourhood relationships – why not even invite them along!

12. Defrost the necessary food. Don't get caught with a half frozen chicken! Put anything on a plate overnight to have it ready in time.

 

Food and Drink

Of coure, every barbecue is centred around the food. Serve great tasting dishes and drinks to freshen the taste buds to liven up even the humblest plate.

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13. Decide on the menu. Choose in advance what you are going to serve. It'll give you time to do the shopping, and everyone will know where they stand food wise.

14. Food Safety. Keep meat separate from all other food, and on a separate chopping board. Washing a chicken is unwise as this can spread bacteria from the raw chicken. Prepare any raw meat as quickly as possible, and remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

15. Vegetarian options. Any dietary requirements need to be thought of beforehand. Make sure to put aside enough food for a decent portion, as some meat eaters might also want to try  the vegetarian kebabs; make sure your vegetarian guests aren't left with barely any food!

16. Oil glorious oil. The heart of a good BBQ is good quantities of oil. Marinating vegetables with it is very important, as this stops them burning when you put them on the grill.

17. Check you have enough of everything. You can never tell how hungry guests are, but generally they'll have a healthy appetite - especially with the glorious smoky smell of the BBQ. Two portions each is usually a good guess, and you can always keep leftovers for the next few days.

18. Snacks and nibbles. While the grill is heating up, put out bowls of salted nuts, crisps and bread sticks for your guests to curb growling stomachs before the main course.

19. Sauces and dips. Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and brown sauce are classics for any good grill. Also consider salsa, guacamole, sour cream or hummus to dip into.

20. Ice cubes. On a hot day with a sizzling BBQ, stock up drinks with ice cubes to cool down on.

21. Optional seasoning. Leave out bowls of additions like cheese, onion, pickles or jalapeños. Everyone's taste will be different, so leave a buffet of extras for them to season their plates with.

22. Side dishes. Additional sides to the mean meals will lighten the oily food. Go healthy with pesto pasta, potato salad and rice. Sticks of carrot, celery and cucumber are great for dipping.

23. Bread varieties. For every burger, beanie, hot dog and drumstick there's bread that can hold it. Vary your BBQ with wraps, baps, buns, or even bagels and fried bread butties!

24. Chilled puddings. Cleanse your pallets by making a cold pudding for afterwards. Ice cream and fruit salads will freshen you all up after a heavy meal.

 

Guests

Take the opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones by having them altogether under one roof - or rather, out in the fresh air!

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25. Create a (private) Facebook event. It's easier to work out who's coming. Any questions about diets or announcements about timings can be made to everyone at the same time.

26. Ensure people RSVP. You can't make an effective plan without knowing how many need to be catered for. Let people know in advance about your BBQ, as this will give them time to sort out their diaries.

27. Create place cards or a seating plan. Social gatherings are a great way to meet new people. Mix up friendship groups by putting people next to others they haven't met before, but leave at least one person nearby that they already know!

28. Who's bringing what? Helpful friends will be able to bring certain things with them. Make a note of who's bringing the salad, so you don't end up with double the amount!

29. Alcohol drinkers bring their preference. Alcohol can be expensive. In some cases the non-drinkers might outweigh the drinkers, so it might work better for some to bring along their choice of alcohol - that way everyone's happy.

30. Mocktails for drivers and younger guests. For those not drinking, don't let them miss out. Fruit juices, cordials, and lemon and limes are all ingredients that can make wonderful tasting mocktails to suit everyone.

31. Allocate tasks. BBQ's are fun but they require a lot of work. Don't take it all upon yourself if you want to have time to enjoy the event! Allocate tasks to family and friends that are helping out - good team work will make a flawless event.

32. Borrow items in advance. You don't want to get caught on the day without a salad spinner. If you don't have any items, borrow them from friends or neighbours in advance – and remember to wash them before giving them back!

33. Provide bins for rubbish. Avoid any stray napkins floating round the garden. Disposable plastic plates and cutlery can all go into a big rubbish bag.

34. Set out plates and cutlery where guests can reach them. Putting cutlery in a big tub on a buffet table is a better way of making sure everyone has a spoon, than laying out everything for them. Also put the plates in big pile near the BBQ, so a canteen line can form with everyone getting what they need.

35. Organise some fun. For the kids – and big kids – amongst you, organise some activities for while the food is cooking. Easy games such as treasure hunts, egg and spoon races or classic Twister are great fun for everyone.

36. Take time to chat. It's not all work work work! Take a glass and a moment, and go out there to talk to all your friends that have come to see you.

Special Touches

The devil's in the detail, but going the extra mile doesn't have to be hellish!

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37. Fairy lights, lanterns and/or candles. For when the sun starts to go in, light up the party with gentle tea lights and fairy lights for calm lighting.

38. Make your own playlist. Don't rely on the radio and Spotify for adverts in between good music. Pick the tunes you want, making a playlist before - perhaps include classic dance tunes, or songs that mean something to you and your guests.

39. Prizes for games. Make someone's victory extra special in a game of Twister by providing prizes for the games; chocolate will go down well with any winner!

40. Speeches. Sometimes it can be touching to make a speech. Thank everyone for coming or simply a few words letting them know how much you appreciate them all coming together will give the event a personal touch.

41. Homemade aspects. Small details can bring a smile to everyone's face. If using disposable plates, why not paint a guest's name on each one so everyone has their own special plate.

42. Creative cooking. There are so many good quality recipes for easy cooking. Take inspirations from some of the great chefs and adapt them to your own tastes.

43. Get people involved. Help take the strain off work by getting children involved making their own cornflake cakes for pudding!

44. Work for food. Bring some fun to moments of downtime. In between waiting for food to cook, why not organise a chocolate hunt to find sweets for pudding later?

45. Party bags. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy a goody bag! If you have leftovers, wrap up some for those that want it.

46. Extra mile. It's the small things in life like folding the napkins nicely, and hanging up bunting to make an event extra special for your special people.

 

Conclusion

Summer is the ultimate time for getting together with friends and family, and you don't have to spend a lot of money to make a day special. Investing a little time and planning can ensure you and your guests can have a day to remember. So keep this checklist handy next time to make sure you've got everything you need, so you can eat, drink and be merry in the sun!

Posted in Homemaking, Lifestyle on 7th Jun 2016

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