It’s the middle of July, which means we’ve entered peak summer barbeque season. It’s a great time to get outside, throw some food over the charcoals, and socialize while dinner simmers.
But if you’re looking to perfect the act of hosting a barbecue, you’ll need more than citronella candles and a festive tablecloth. Keep these steps in mind before you send out the invitations.
1. Consider Mother Nature
This one seems obvious, but remember to take the weather into consideration when hosting a barbecue. If the weather report indicates a day of heavy showers, plan accordingly; the most dedicated grillers may not have a problem standing in the rain while they cook dinner, but the guests may have an issue with joining you.
And don’t be afraid to respect Mother Nature by using recycled items to grill. The interior drum of an old washing machine can be converted into an excellent fire pit to grill over, and a large clay flower pot can be used as a smoker by adding an electric hot plate, smoker ring, and cooking rack inside the pot and employing the pot’s drain tray as a lid.
2. Get Comfortable
Regardless of how many people you invite over, make sure you’ve got enough chairs, seats, and table space available for everyone, both inside and outside. There’s nothing worse than having a plate full of food and nowhere to sit down and eat.
You can create and maintain a comfortable outdoor environment by eliminating any standing water in the yard (mosquitoes), checking around corners for insect nests (wasps), and checking to make sure any outdoor tables and furniture aren’t be using as spider apartments.
3. Diversify the Menu
Other than “don’t burn the food” and “don’t burn down the house,” there aren’t many rules regarding barbecue technique. Anything goes regarding seasoning, marinating, and grill temperature, but don’t be afraid to try something different on the dinner menu.
When most people talk about barbecuing, they’re typically referring to the traditional meat entrees like hamburgers, chicken, and ribs. Don’t be afraid to try something different on the grill, such as veggie kebobs marinated in Italian dressing or ribs involving cola. Some of the best barbecue marinades involve mixing spices in a bottle of beer, shoving the bottle into a whole chicken, and placing it on the smoker.
4. Ask For Food Help
Typically, the person hosting the barbeque takes responsibility for providing the main course and any condiments/sides to accompany the dinner. However, barbeque etiquette usually calls on the guests to provide additional items such as side dishes, drinks, ice, and alcohol.
Don’t go crazy with the side dishes, either. If the recipe for someone’s famous macaroni and cheese dish involves lime-green gelatin and sweet potatoes, consider going with potato salad or corn on the cob. Nobody wants to be the person who brought the food everyone else was afraid to touch.
And most important of all: have fun. Barbeques represent the rare ability to be social before, during, and after a meal without wandering much further than the grill to the kitchen.