How to Plan and Host the Perfect Barbecue

Who doesn’t like a barbecue? What better way to relax in the sun, hang with family and friends, and enjoy some of the best cooking that ever touched your lips? Some of my most cherished memories are from times when my family and I either hosted or attended barbecues.
Why not make some new memories and plan to host a barbecue today? This article will tell you exactly how to plan the perfect barbecue that you’ll be proud of. No matter how good the food you serve may be, if you don’t take care of the details, then your get together can bomb out from the start.

With that in mind, the first step in planning the perfect barbecue is to plan your menu. You can serve any food you wish, but American standards include grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, bratwursts, and steaks. It would be a good idea to grill some veggie burgers for those guests who
don’t eat meat.

Add in some potato salad, pasta salad, and the like, some yummy desserts, and your meal will be complete. Some suggestions for desserts are a Frosted Gelatin Salad, angel food cake frosted with whipped topping and covered with sliced, fresh strawberries, Grasshopper Pie, (not made with the real insects), and Pina Colada Brownies. It would be a good idea to serve at least two sugar-free dessert for those guests who are restricting their intake of sugar. It used to be mainly diabetics who stood alone in this category. But now, with the popularity of the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet, sugar has become a “no-no” for many people.

You may also choose to try some new recipes such as fruit shishkabobs, barbecued tofu, (yes, such a recipe actually exists), and Iced Coffee Latte.

To help wash the food down, you’ll need to serve plenty of ice and cold drinks such as beer, soda, iced tea, and bottled water. No matter how high the thermometer rises, there are always die hard Java drinkers who will be looking for a steaming pot of coffee.

And finally, don’t forget to provide plenty of cubed-cheese, beef bites, cut up fresh vegetables, potato chips, pretzels, and other appetizers your hungry guests can happily munch on while they’re waiting on the meat to cook.

Once you have your menu in mind, you can determine the date and time of your barbecue, make out your guest list, and send out your invitations. Now it’s time to plan the rest of your get together so it will be perfect.

You’ll need to buy a bunch of colorful paper plates, napkins, plastic cutlery, and cups. These are not only appealing to the eyes, but they are also easy to dispose of. If you live in an area of the country where mosquitoes and other flying insects are a problem, you should also purchase several citronella candles or torches to place strategically around your back yard.

Now for some final planning tips:
1. If you’re going to invite several guests to your barbecue, you should set up two or more grills to cook with so that everyone can eat the main meal at the same time. Set up a card table in between the grills so the chef will have a handy place to hold needed utensils and the food.

2. In order to host the perfect barbecue, you need to provide plenty of seating for your guests. If you have picnic tables, and they are not large enough to accommodate everyone, bring out more lawn chairs or folding chairs. In a pinch, kitchen chairs will work too. You can always set up TV trays for those guests who are sitting in chairs and not at a table.

3. Set up several tables for the food to be set on. Then, let everyone serve themselves “buffet style.” This method always works the best when you’re serving several people in an informal atmosphere.

Organize the food so that the main dishes are on one table, desserts on another, and so on. Make sure that you set up at least one table of “nibble” food for when your guests begin to arrive. This type of food could include plenty of cubed-cheese, crackers, cut up fresh vegetables, potato chips, pretzels, et cetera. This way, your guests can nibble while they are waiting on the picnic to begin.

4. Some foods such as macaroni and potato salads are best when they are served cold. Salads that contain mayonnaise also tend to spoil quickly if they are not kept chilled. Therefore, you’ll need to keep foods such as this in a cooler or refrigerator until it’s time to serve them.

And, locate the table that has the cold food on it in a shady area. If need be, you can create your own shady area by using a beach umbrella.

5. Your guests will need a receptacle to place their trash in. Put a garbage can with a lid on it away from the eating and the food areas. But place the receptacle close enough so that guests can find it and use it. Be sure to keep it covered at all times so it won’t attract unwanted bugs and flying pests.

Now that your barbecue is all planned and ready to go, there is one more thing to keep in mind: be sure that you take the time to enjoy the occasion. Relax, sit back, and enjoy the fruits of your labors, as well as the company of your guests and family!

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