It’s taken years of entertaining for me to conclude that the more organized I am, the more fun I have when I host a barbecue.
Lack of organization makes me stressed, keeps me from enjoying my company because I’m constantly on the run for this or that forgotten thing, and makes my guests uncomfortable watching me run around like a chicken with my head cut off.
To that end, I’m creating this master list for my next gathering to ensure that my guests and I can relax and reconnect while we enjoy a feast to remember.
Check out this barbecue to-do list and see what you think. Don’t be shy. Leave a comment with your tried and true entertaining tips at the end of this post so we can benefit from your experience too!
One – Two Weeks Ahead
- Collect recipes to narrow down your menu and build your grocery list. Pinterest is a terrific resource for recipe collection. Be sure to click through to the recipe’s website. Often links aren’t accurate.
- When menu planning include drinks, appetizers, meats/burgers, salads, sides and dessert. If you have family and friends anxious to pitch in their favorite dishes, by all means take the help! It’s fun to see what everyone brings, but be sure to balance their offerings so you don’t end up with 10 salads and no desserts.
- Cooking for Crowds for Dummies has a terrific cheat sheet you can use to determine how many servings per person. Mr. Mike goes off the deep end when I buy too much food and we have a mountain of leftovers. I believe this need to over do it is a female trait. We can’t stand the thought of anyone going hungry, can we?
- Create seating with groups of chairs and tables to create conversation spaces.
- Set up outdoor cover from sun and rain. We watched for sales and purchased a large tent. It was well worth the investment.
- Don’t waste time cleaning your entire house. The only rooms people see is your bath, kitchen and entry. I used to spend the day before cleaning, only to find that I could have spent that time shopping and prepping food.
- Do yourself a favor and enlist the kids and husband to pull any weeds in garden beds visible to guests and sweep the patio and porches while you grocery shop. Mr. Rimmy and I would get into heated discussions when he would decide that 2 hours before guests arrive was the time to pressure wash the driveway and decks. Really? Who does that! Mr. Rimmy.
- Fill propane tanks, or buy coals, and clean your outdoor grill.
- Put garbage and recycle bins in easy to access locations with extra garbage bags in the bottom of the can for future use.
- Shop for food and several bags of ice.
- Prep any food you can ahead of time. Chop up vegetables and fruits, mix marinades and dressings, form burger patties, slice cheese, etc. You get the idea. Even salads that hold up well and desserts can be made the day before.
- If you have an extra refrigerator, start chilling drinks.
- Set out buffet table(s) with cups, plates, utensils and napkins, then cover to keep clean.
The Big Day
- Get up before the rest of the house, enjoy your coffee and relax. Serve oatmeal for breakfast. It’s quick, nutritious, and filling so the family won’t be begging for food while you’re taking care of last minute preparations.
- Take a quick trip around the house to ensure personal items are put away, and there’s enough toilet paper in the bathroom. Have you ever attended a party where the toilet paper roll is empty? Who wants to hunt through the host’s cabinets for replacements. Not me!
- Two years ago we hosted a wedding on our property and I discovered Kleenex Hand Towels. At the end of the day, the paper hand towels were gone. No one used the cloth hand towels. By the time several people dry their hands on towels they’re soggy and wet. Yuck!
- Finish food prep and ensure that all food is stored safely at the proper temperature.
- Make sure the dishwasher is empty so guests that want to help with cleanup have easy access.
- Thirty minutes before guests arrive start putting out non-perishable food, then 15 minutes before they arrive put out anything remaining and heat up the grill.
- Skip bottled water and the loads of recycle they create and fill pitchers with water and ice. Fill your coolers with ice an hour before and fill with drinks to ensure icy cold refreshments.
Side note: Cooling refreshments has been a bone of contention between Mr. Rimmy and I. The conversation would go something like this . . .
Mother Rimmy says, “Mike, could you please put the pop and beer in the cooler?”
“Sure!” says Mike as he watches the car race on television.
An hour later and 15 minutes before guests arrive I say, “Mike, could you please put the pop and beer in the cooler?!”
Now we have lukewarm pop and flat tasting beer. Mother Rimmy isn’t happy, and Mr. Rimmy is grumpy because his beer is warm and he missed that last laps of his car race. I’ve decided that there are some wars I can’t win, so I take care of drink chilling myself.
What do you think of my plan of attack? I’m stress free because I prepared ahead of time, enlisted the troops to help, and my guests are smiling and happy. You can’t beat that!
These tips on how to host an impressive barbecue might be too late for you to get started on your 4th of July celebration, but Pin it for the future. They’re serving me well, and summer is just winding up. There are more than a few barbecues on my calendar!
Check out these guest pleasing barbecue recipes if you’re still on the recipe hunt.
- Herby Marinated Chicken and Zucchini Kabobs
- Grilled Beef Burgers Stuffed with Provolone and Mushrooms
- Aunt Kathleen’s Chinese Cabbage Salad
- Super Easy Fruity Glazes, Barbecue Sauces, and Salad Dressing Ideas
- Berry and Wine Spritzers
- Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes
Enjoy and have a terrific 4th!