The Fourth of July is here and that means it’s time to gather the crew, enjoy the summer and celebrate together. Of course, there’s nothing more symbolic of summer than a good old-fashioned cookout. Having a plan can make sure you’re able to truly relax. Here are a few tips so that you and your guests will truly enjoy the summer experience.
A Quick Note About Rain
It’s important to remember that outdoor parties happen outdoors. I’ve never read a forecast I believed, so keep an eye on the weather to make sure all your hard work isn’t ruined by a few rain drops. Have a backup plan in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Crank Up the Tunes
The soundtrack of your party is what’ll take it to the next level. A playlist of classics is guaranteed to make sure everyone enjoys the music. Even the most beloved song gets old the fourth time the playlist restarts. Make sure the list is long enough to last. At a minimum, it should be half the length of your party.
These little pests can turn the most enjoyable evening into a struggle. Make sure they’re not invited by using these tricks to make your space a mosquito-free zone. Most importantly, remove any standing water, as that’s where they lay their eggs. Next, lighting some citronella candles will do wonders to keep bugs off your guest list. Providing bug sprays can also offer personal relief to your guests.
The constant buzzing of phones is a quick way to dampen the party mood. One way to keep people from checking their social media nonstop is with yard games. Kids and adults are both likely have a great time with these fun activities. A beanbag toss (also called cornhole in some parts of the country) is a yard game classic, and you can even make your own set!
The More Plates, the Merrier
It’s so tempting to keep just one plate at the side of the grill to plop everything on and sort it out later. But if you’re grilling vegetables, sometimes you don’t want those flavors to mix. A separate plate for each type of grilled goodie will make sure all combos are intentional.
Patience: It’s What’s for Dinner
Fight your inner micromanager and trust your grill to cook your meat. When you’re checking for doneness, don’t poke, flip or stab anything. When in doubt, let the pros tell you how long to grill all the different items in your meal. Leaving your food alone will allow a premium sear and picture perfect grill marks.
Once the sun starts to dip, you might enjoy cooler summer temperatures, but you don’t want to lose sight of the party. Literally. Maybe you already have some outdoor lights, but make sure they’re softer ones, not blinding flood lights. If you have a safe space for it, a fire is a great way to provide some illumination. If not, string lights can bring a charming touch to your event. Have them set up ahead of time so you’re not fumbling around in the dark.
A Cool Way to Cool
A cooler is just as important as a grill for the success of your party. Keeping your drinks chilled is the best way to keep your guests happy and hydrated. Bring in the summer vibe by freezing partially full frozen water balloons to serve as ice for your cooler. The pop of color is a fun addition, and as the water melts, it can be a great activity, too.
Think of Your Guests When Planning the Menu
If it were just you eating at this party, you’d know exactly what to serve. But your guests should be your first thought when planning the menu. On a very important level, you don’t want to trigger any allergies. But it’s also important to make sure your vegetarian and vegan friends will leave just as satisfied as your carnivorous ones. Reach out to your guests before the party to get info about your guests’ allergies and preferences.
Make It Customizable
A nice way to put the power in the hands of guests is have a condiment bar. This lets your picky eaters decide what they do and don’t want. Spice things up by using Popsicle sticks as labels for the condiments. Provide a good spread, but make sure to stock up on the go-to items, like ketchup and mustard. Take it even further by providing a s’mores bar with all the fixings. Some unexpected items like peanut butter can bring new life to this summer classic.
Clean Grill, Clean Fun
If you don’t clean the residue off your grill, the ghosts of meals past will end up haunting your guests. Mix of ¼ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of water together to scrub the grate and let it sit. After 15 minutes, wipe it off with a cloth and run it at high heat to burn off any excess, and you’re good to go!
Leave No Meat Behind
As you’re grilling, you might notice the little bit of meat that gets stuck on the hot grill. It’s the worst. Luckily, it’s easy enough to avoid, and the solution can even add some flavor to your dish. Use olive oil to keep your meat from sticking. Use a paper towel soaked in olive oil to apply a coat of oil to the grill. It’s important that the grill already be hot and the meat be close behind so the oil doesn’t simply burn away.
What About the Children?
If your guest list includes some people born this side of the turn of the millennium, they’re going to want some activities to keep them busy. This is where those lawn games can come in handy. And having some specifically kid-themed games, like a water gun range, will make your party a hit with kids and their parents.
Think About the Drink
If you plan to serve alcohol at your party, having everyone’s favorite drink can be a real hassle. Instead of trying to please everyone, consider providing a house drink like outlaw lemonade. Providing an alcohol-free option is important, too. Checking with your guests beforehand will ensure everyone enjoys their time. Of course, you can still let guests bring their own drinks if so inclined.
With planning, your party can be a good time for your guests and for you. Kick back and enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor while soaking up some sun. You deserve it. Let us know in the comments what you do to prepare for an outdoor party!
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