A barbecue party is a great way to spend time with friends. You get to relax, enjoy delicious food, listen to music and catch up with everyone while having an exotic drink you’ve never had before. What’s not to like?
So how do you organize a barbecue? People have different dietary preferences. Not everyone is a meat lover, so is there anything in the menu for your vegetarian friends? You want to make this a fun gathering for everyone.
No need to stress yourself. Things will go smoothly if you follow some simple recommendations on how to organize a lovely barbecue party. We reached out to 42 food bloggers and asked them for their tips.
If you had to throw a barbecue party tomorrow, what are your Ideas for food, drinks, and decoration?
We received many wonderful tips. Find out how to pick a theme, which recipes you should cook, what drinks to serve, and how to decorate your backyard to make it the perfect place for a party.
Beth Nydick – Blue Barn Kitchen
A backyard BBQ is an easy feat to conquer, from food to drinks and decorations. I swear it is one of the easiest ways to entertain. You just need a few items to create the ambiance for your guests.
Start with the food, a menu full of whole real foods, that make people feel good about eating them.
My go-to Clean Entertaining Menu:
- Citrus Herbed Roasted Veggies
- Grilled Corn
- Make your own Burger Bar
- Chopped Salad
- No Mayo Coleslaw
- Make your own Cookie Sammies
- GF and non-GF cookies with Vegan or Dairy Ice Cream.
The trick is to have enough salad, slaw, and veggies to satisfy your non-meat eaters, plus not making everything so fussy.
People love a DIY experience.
Now decorations, that comes down to your serving pieces. Plating veggies on a three-tiered cake plate is great for height and interest. A big aluminum ice bucket for soda, beer, and carafes of cocktails.
A red checked plastic tablecloth always brings back childhood memories for me. You don’t need to fill the space, look for pieces that evoke a feeling. Relax, have fun and remember its only food, what’s the worst that can happen, the dog eats everything, and you order salads and pizza?
Drinks, well, of course, you need a Clean Cocktail, specifically a Margarita you can enjoy without all the sugar. Try this Cucumber Marg:
Coconut Cucumber Margarita:
1 ½ cups of tequila
½ cup coconut syrup
½ cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
½ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
2 cups cucumber puree
6 limes, wedges for salt rim and garnish
Pour a generous amount of salt on a plate that is bigger than your glasses. Rim 6 glasses with a lime wedge and dredge in the salt, set aside.
In a pitcher combine, cucumber puree, tequila, lemon, lime and coconut syrup. Stir well, then set next to rimmed glasses and an ice filled bucket. Then let your guests pour themselves. Enjoy!
Ellie Golemb – Culinarie Kit
Barbecue is all about the sauce! Whether it’s your favorite brand or a homemade recipe, that sweet, sticky sauce makes all the difference.
Drinks? A fresh mint mojito is sure to complement any grilled food on a hot day.
As for decorations, I prefer function over form. Colorful umbrellas, flowers to add to the aroma, and even herbs and fruit in bowls for snacking or adding to cocktails can lend some vibrance to the setting.
Karen Tedesco – Family Style Food
Since the point of throwing any kind of gathering is to get people together to have fun, my approach is to keep everything as simple as possible.
When I throw a casual (last minute!!) outdoor barbecue, I want everyone, including me, to relax and feel comfortable. Here’s my go-to plan when spontaneity strikes:
It’s definitely not fun to be sweating over the grill when the party starts. Because the best foods for a barbecue look and taste fabulous at room temperature, cook and arrange it all ahead of time.
Roast an assortment of vegetables and serve them on a huge platter or serving board, with dipping sauces like pesto, hummus and goat cheese spread arranged in the middle and sliced flatbread or pita in a basket alongside.
Grill chicken, seafood or meat skewers and pile them on a serving plate with a zesty fresh sauce like chimichurri or romesco. Bonus – some markets have skewers already prepared for cooking.
Set up a spot such as a small folding table to a self-serve beverage station. Make a big batch of one kind of cocktail to keep things simple – pitchers of fresh minty mojitos or margaritas are perfect – and have fill a cooler or large bucket with ice, beer and sparkling water.
Quickly transform the deck or patio into an instantly inviting, cozy space: Put some cushions on the outdoor chairs. Have folded throws or blankets nearby if the weather is chilly.
To create a mood, stick tiki torches in the ground, hang string lights and put lots of votive candles on the table.
Jane McKay – The Zen of Slow Cooking
With just 24 hours notice to host a barbecue, to avoid sweating over hot coals and missing out on the fun with my guests I keep things simple, loosely based around a theme.
An Antipasti starter of olives, Manchego, chorizo, and almonds require minimal prep, with maximum flavor.
The Main Event: overnight marinated flank steak with chimichurri a vibrant, piquant green herb sauce with oregano, parsley, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar. I love the ease with which the steak cooks on the grill, turned once, and the sauce comes together in a blender in seconds. Resting the steak after cooking gives me a few extra minutes before slicing it table side, served family style on a large board. Dress with extra chimichurri.
Go vegetarian: Portobello mushrooms, grilled halloumi, red peppers brushed with chimichurri sauce.
Choose two or three prep ahead sides; dress before serving:
- New potatoes, scallions, capers, chopped egg, and mayonnaise
- Steamed green beans, toasted hazelnuts, lemon zest, vinaigrette
- Black bean sweetcorn salsa, red pepper, crushed avocado, lime juice and chili
- Quinoa, grilled mixed vegetables; red onions, peppers, zucchini
- Orzo, black olives, tomatoes, feta, pine nuts, lemon olive oil dressing
- Coleslaw in zesty lime juice, cilantro, and yoghurt dressing, with toasted pumpkin seeds
- Chopped green salad, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, vinaigrette
Cocktail / Mocktail hour: pop a bottle of Prosecco, pour over pomegranate juice or shrub for a refreshing sparkler. Switch out the fizz for a citrus soda.
No-Cook Desserts: fresh strawberries, mint, and broken meringues folded into thick, Greek yogurt drizzled with honey, and you definitely can’t go wrong with an Ice cream sandwich!
Table decorations: I look no further than my garden and cut herbs, flowers, and greenery to fill small glass jars, alongside small outdoor lanterns.
Tips to Build Your Own:
Choose a protein – meat, fish, or plant based centerpiece
Double Duty Marinades – fresh herbs and citrus add a punch to your protein as a marinade and a sauce
Simple Sides – pre-cooked grains, canned beans, bags of greens make a quick base, toasted nuts add texture
Killer Condiments – mustards, pickles, bbq and chili sauces
Anita Iaconangelo – Italian Connection
Where I live in Sicily we have lots of locally grown ingredients to put together a delicious and healthy barbecue. Paired with Sicilian wines and decorated with wildflower bouquets, this Sicilian Barbecue is a celebration of farm-to-table cooking and is easy to prepare.
Sicilian Barbecue Menu
- Tomato Oregano Focaccia
- Sicilian Cheese Selection (Ragusano, Piacentinu, Tuma Persa)
- Spiced Green Olives
From the Grill:
- Beef Patties Grilled in Lemon Leaves
- Grilled Sausage flecked with Hot Pepper
- Whipped Ricotta with Fresh Strawberries, Orange Blossom Honey, & Toasted Pistachios
- Cinnamon Chocolates from Modica, Sicily
- Sparkling White Wine (with appetizers) – eg. Charme Bianco 2018, Firriato
- Red Wine – eg. Nero d’Avola 2016 NeroIbleo, Gulfi
- Sweet Dessert Wine – eg. Passito di Noto D.O.C., Planeta
- Wildflower bouquets of red poppies, yellow daisies, and blue borage, accented with sprigs of rosemary.
I LOVE cooking and hosting gatherings. We have an Argentine-inspired “Parilla” (which means grill) and we love to cook and create “Asados” (which means BBQs) because my husband and I met living in Buenos Aires. Asados are part of the weekly culture in Argentina. They are all about family/friends, delicious food, slowing down time and connecting with each other.
To set the mood, we would have string lights over the patio/grill area. Little mason jars of wildflower arrangements on the tables. Mexican blankets on the grass so people can lay out by the hammock and enjoy a picnic vibe. Reggae would be playing in the background.
The menu would be heavily filled with lots of vegetables balanced by protein from local farmers and a melted bowl of provoleta cheese to dip a toasted baguette in. The veggie selection would include grilled radicchio, asparagus, fennel, and whole carrots.
All of the vegetables would be lightly drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. The carrots would have turmeric and garlic powder on them and grilled whole so that people can enjoy them like a “steak.”. The grilled radicchio would be topped with drizzled pesto and the fennel would have shaved Parmigiano on top. The asparagus would be served simple grilled.
For the meat, there would be a selection of sausages: pork, chicken, spicy and herbed accompanied with a chimichurri sauce. People can turn these into “churi pans” which means sausage sandwiches with the baguette, provoleta cheese, and chimichurri sauce. We would also grill some marinated skirt skate so everyone could enjoy a few bites.
For drinks, there would be red wine (preferably a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon). There would also be the classic Argentine drink of Fernet mixed with Coca Cola over ice.
The whole idea of this Asado is to not only fill your bellies but fill your heart and soul with connection and meaningful friend conversation.
Sarah Walker Caron – Sarah’s Cucina Bella
A good barbecue starts with good company, so I would invite my favorite dinner crew: my staff past and present. They’ll bring the drinks, probably eschewing our usual wine fest for Maine-made craft cider and beer. It’s perfect for enjoying with grilled foods.
And for my part, I will create the menu that honors what’s available seasonally in Maine right now. That means, we’ll do burgers with ground beef from my favorite local farmer or ground moose leftover from a friend’s hunt last fall. I’ll season them simply with salt and pepper because it brings out the flavor of the beef.
With the burgers, which I’d serve with a choice of onion roll or kaiser roll, we’d have a cheese buffet featuring a few favorites like aged gouda, Fromager d’Affinois, cheddar and — you can’t skip it, it’s the classic — American cheese, fresh sliced from the deli. It would be a DIY burger station with a selection of fixings.
Tomatoes aren’t in season here yet, so we’d have other toppings available like chopped pea shoots, baby arugula, roasted red peppers and sauteed mushrooms. If we could find them (they are foraged only), sauteed ramps would be a lovely addition as well.
On the side, we’d grill up some potato wedges tossed with dried rosemary, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. We’d also dig into my dilly beans, canned last fall, and perhaps some other odds and ends from the pantry. If anyone had any leftover tomato jam or bacon jam, those would be great to serve alongside ketchup, mustard and relish for dressing the burgers.
For dessert, we’d have a selection of mini whoopie pies from a local bakery.
As for decorations, it’s nice to be outdoors after a long winter, so beyond my outdoor table and chairs, we’d let Mother Nature handle that.
Matt Allen – Old Guy In The Kitchen
Assuming I only have 24 hours or less to plan, shop and prepare for this impromptu barbecue I would try to keep things simple. I have friends across the spectrum from meat-eaters to vegans so I would also plan to have options available to suit a variety of diets and tastes.
Perhaps I’d have a large hummus platter with veggies and pita bread or chips as well. Add a nice selection of wine and craft beer with at least one fruity non-alcoholic cocktail for those that are avoiding alcohol.
For the main course, it’s hard to beat classic burgers. I would also have some black bean burgers or large sliced portobello mushroom steaks to grill. Put together a build your own burger station with cheeses, condiments, and toppings like bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, sliced avocado, pickles, etc. Add some classic sides like pasta salad, coleslaw, baked be ans and fresh fruit like watermelon.
Dessert has to be s’mores around an open fire (this is a barbecue after all). Big plates of graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars and let people have at it. Don’t forget some sticks to toast marshmallows.
As for decor, you have mother nature doing the heavy lifting. Add some strings of lights between trees and over the patio. Make sure there is plenty of seating in the shade (add a tent if needed). Add some music with a blue tooth speaker and then enjoy the party.
Kimberly Barnes – Might Be Vegan
If I were to host a BBQ party tomorrow, I’d create a meat- and dairy-free menu fit for foodies. The menu would include plantain potato salad, jackfruit BBQ sliders with southern coleslaw, mac and cheese, grilled veggie kebabs with Korean-inspired spicy pear sauce, grilled corn, grilled green beans and a host of chips, crudites, and dips.
To quench our thirst, I’d have a few cases of beer, a couple of bottles of wine, and a signature watermelon sangria.
Decorations? Let’s keep it simple, as no one likes a big clean-up job after a party. That said, I’d let the food create the decor.
I’d serve the sangria from the watermelon using disposable spouts. The kebabs and sliders can be placed on two unused tabletop mini grills. That leaves the green beans which would be housed in a beautiful serving. And the mac and cheese would be placed in mini mason jars.
Chips and dip? We’ve got serving trays for you two. And the corn we’d poke with sticks and sit upright in a bucket being held down with rocks. Throw in a vase of flowers and a game of cornhole, and it’s a party.
Claire Delplancq – Claire Imaginarium
Being French, I am very much influenced by my country when I organize a barbecue party. Although I have lived in the US and the UK, when it comes to outdoor summer dining, I stick to my roots.
On the menu, you will find grilled meats, sausages, sides and wine, a lot of wine. French people like to focus on simple and tasty ingredients, so I source ethically produced, grass-fed meat cuts like beef ribs and pork chops. I also include chipolatas and merguez which are sausages traditionally cooked on the barbecue in France. My go-to vegetarian options are grilled peppers and halloumi cheese.
For the sides, nothing beats a good salad. You won’t find any burger or hot dog buns on my table, I like to stick to refreshing recipes. A couscous salad, a pasta salad, shaved courgettes with parmesan, a Caprese salad and/or a French favourite a “salade composée” are always on the menu.
I serve everything, of course, with a bottle of rosé. As for the decoration, I keep it simple, a table nicely set, some flowers, a few citronella candles to keep the mosquitos away, some background music and good company!
I guess my overall approach to barbecues is inspired by my French heritage and the Mediterranean life ethos.
Lee Levy – The Meal Kit Review
Spring is here, and for me, the best way to celebrate the beginning of NYC spring is having a weekend barbecue lunch with good friends. For that, I would defiantly go for homemade Bison Hamburgers, with best white cheddar cheese melted on top, served in brioche buns.
I personally think that the perfect sides for a good hamburgers are some nice fresh vegetables, so as a side dish I would serve two kinds of salads – probably one classic Caesar salad and one fresh chopped veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, red onion, carrots and some parsley, seasoned with with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice, just to keep it fresh and simple.
For drinks, my personal favorite for springtime is a well-chilled rose wine. There are few wonderful and not over expensive options (15$-20$ per bottle), and my two personal favorites – Fleur de Mer Rosé or Bonterra Organically Grown Rosé.
As for decoration, for me, spring is all about colorful flowers. I love the casual display, so I would just spread on the table (covered in a white table-top) an assortment of small size vases or recycled jars and bottles with water and 1-2 colorful flowers in each. It could be a combination of tulips, daisies, carnations or really any other colorful springy flower. To finish the total look, I would use a green and white tableware and napkins.
If I had to throw a barbecue party tomorrow here’s what I would do.
I would make the healthy barbecue food look beautiful and abundant. The key to this is the presentation.
Create large glass jars of infused water with mint, berries, lemon and orange wedges. Serve with beautiful tumblers.
Then, turn the focus on creating a large number of fresh salads. Make them colorful with different textures using the full spectrum of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are available. Make the salads look spectacular by carefully selecting beautiful dishes.
Here are 3 ideas for salads:
I would also add to the menu a whole salmon fish that could be barbecued and served on a large platter with fresh wedges of lemon and herbs.
Prepare the party space to show it off to it’s best advantage. Thoroughly clean and declutter the area. Then, place large vases of flowers in the space. And, if it’s in the evening, use soft lighting with candles and string lights.
If I had to throw it tomorrow and didn’t have much time to prep, here is what I would make:
- My famous dairy-free spinach dip, salsa, and guacamole with chips to start
- Angry Ochard Rose Apple Cider as alcohol and Spindrift grapefruit to drink, plus plain water and lots of lemons
- Beyond Meat Bratwursts on the grill with all the fixings
- Jicama salad as a side dish
- Chocolate brownies for dessert
For decorations I would do the latest color trends with light neon greens, yellows and lavenders for table clothes, plates, cups and napkins (all as sustainable as I could find) and fresh lemons in big bowls for color (that can be eaten later!).
Bintu Hardy – Recipes From A Pantry
For food, I would have to choose a barbecue classic – hot dogs are a firm favorite with young and old and there are so many different ways you can have them – with or without onions, a variety of sauces, with or without the cheese. They always go down a treat.
Drink wise, I would have to say a strawberry daiquiri. It is packed full of flavor and a refreshing option whilst by the heat of a barbecue and in the summer sun. Obviously, you would need to have a selection of alcohol-free drinks for the younger or teetotal guests at the barbecue.
For decoration, I’d have to have some fairy lights draped around the table where the tableware is. Perhaps some pretty pamper lanterns too.
Lisa Mitchell – Sacred & Delicious
Barbecues are the thing as balmy nights and warm breezes begin to waft into the Carolinas. Once the porch is set with a colorful tablecloth and decorated with simple white lights, we’ll be ready to go with a mouth-watering vegetarian menu. Fortunately, my friends have come to enjoy a break from their mostly omnivorous lives because they experience so many diverse flavors when dining at our table
I’ll start with veggie burgers made of cooked mung beans, strained well and tossed with caramelized onions and a spice mixture of brown mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, mineral salt, and lots of fresh ginger and garlic. These flavorful patties will already be cooked in advance indoors and only need to be reheated on the grill for 3 minutes a side.
I’ll offer two sauces to top the burgers: a curry-leaf chutney or freshly made guacamole, as the cumin and coriander in the burgers complement both Indian and Mexican cuisines. When the burgers come off the grill, we throw on some asparagus marinated with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dried tarragon for about 3 minutes until just tender.
The slightly heavy burgers are balanced with a light summer carrot soup made with coconut milk, mint, and cilantro served cool or room temperature. A large tossed salad with mesclun, roasted peppers, sunflower seeds, and goat cheese rounds out the menu.
Besides the bring-your-own-wine that’s available, I’ll be making a lovely herbal tea made of steeped cumin, coriander, fennel seeds and lots of fresh mints. This drink is a great digestive aid as well as refreshing and delicious! Saved for last: a gluten-free blueberry almond cake and fresh papaya.
Get the Décor!
If you’re hosting a party, you don’t need to spend days preparing for it. Keep it simple and enjoy good food and great company.
If you don’t have enough seats, don’t fret! Spread vintage quilts blankets on the lawn, cover picnic tables hay bales with tablecloths to protect guest clothing. Add fresh flowers to a rustic metal container or Mason jar, and finalize the table with silverware wrapped in a napkin tied with ribbon, twine or raffia.
Bring on the Food and Drinks
Appetizers are already on the table. Try different hummus dips (Simple Vegan Hummus Recipes) served with crudités, crackers or even used a spread for a sandwich. Vegan Egg Salad served in either Romaine lettuce (for wraps) or gluten-free buns for sandwiches is a tasty alternative to regular egg salad. Mediterranean Vegetable Kebabs are delicious as a main course (kids love anything skewered!) and can easily be customized with lots of different vegetables.
Every BBQ needs a drink alongside. Make a pitcher of Ginger Lime mocktails to keep guests refreshed.
Melissa Eboli – Via Melissa
I love putting a modern twist on BBQ favorites, so this is what I would throw together:
- Marinated skirt steak tacos w/ chipotle aoli
- Sliders w/ jack cheese & curried ketchup
- Grilled lemon-garlic shrimp
- Cold pasta salad of: BBQ sauce, enchilada sauce, Tomatoes, beans & corn
- Mexican Salad w/ rice, beans, avocados & cilantro-lime dressing
As for drinks, I would make water Mellon infused water as the non-alcohol choice, and serve up a beautiful teal drink my combining pineapple juice, Curacao and vodka over ice.
The decor would be a hybrid of a luau meets a Mexican fiesta so my guests can fee as if they were in a festive, yet chill environment at the same time.
Holly Clegg – Healthy Cooking Blog
I call a BBQ casual entertaining. Usually, the grill master has his specialty, whether it is steak, burgers or chicken so I focus on the sides. I serve the classics but with a fun, healthy twist.
My Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad recipe bursts with sweet and spicy flavors and no mayo included in this diabetic-friendly and gluten-free spectacular side dish combining roasted sweet potatoes and southwestern seasonings into a colorful explosion of flavors. My Cool Coleslaw combines cabbage, cucumber, lime and mint contrasted with mandarin oranges and peanuts.
For bread, hard to beat my 2-ingredient melt-in-your-mouth Pull Apart Bread with crescent rolls and butter, most amazing buttery bread ever!
Double Chocolate Brownies are a chocoholics’ dream; the dark chocolate and sweet chocolate-almond icing satisfy any sweet tooth as well as the non-cook as this recipe starts with a brownie mix.
For decorations keep it festive and simple with bandanas as accent pieces in baskets or tie to serving pieces. Wrap silverware in paper bandana napkins and tie with raffia (thin rope twine).
Simple inexpensive flowers such as mums in a casual container add to the party. Serve buffet style and these easy recipes with a few decorations make a memorable BBQ.
Wendy Hodge – Wendy’s Way To Health
If I had to throw a spur of the moment barbecue party, the first thing I would do is pray for good weather, as I live in Hobart where the weather is very changeable at the drop of a hat!
I like the idea of BYO for barbecues. I think it sets the tone for a relaxed, informal gathering. People are more comfortable, and therefore chatty, with their favorite drink in their hand.
I would also ask my guests to bring their own meat, and I would provide the salads and condiments. Quick, easy, healthy and tasty is my food mantra. So I’d make a simple green salad, rice and/or pasta salad, and my potato salad – because it’s always a favorite at barbecues!
In typical Aussie fashion, there would be an Esky or large tub of ice to chill the drinks, and a table set for the salads. Everyone would help themselves, and they’d be nursing a plate of food on their knee as they chat.
Vered DeLeeuw – Healthy Recipes Blogs
So when throwing a barbecue party, my focus is going to be finding foods that are delicious but also healthy.
All of the recipes I will mention here are VERY easy to make. So I would have no problem throwing that barbecue party tomorrow! I could make several of them today (the salads, the dip, and the frozen yogurt), to save time tomorrow.
The meat part is easy. My chosen diet is keto and gluten-free, so meats of all kinds are absolutely fine, and spare ribs are probably at the top of my list for barbecue meats. I would, however, avoid sugary sauces. A really good option for a healthy barbecue sauce is this North Carolina BBQ Sauce, which doesn’t contain any sugar.
Other tasty meat options include grilled chicken skewers. I rub them with just a bit of olive oil and spices, and they are not just lean and healthy, but also very tasty. Grilled shrimp are wonderful too. I make them with a tasty rub of olive oil, lemon juice, chili powder, and cayenne.
As for sides, cauliflower potato salad is amazing. It’s truly like you’re eating a real potato salad! But if you don’t mind eating potatoes, this olive oil potato salad is a great option. It’s healthier than a traditional potato salad, and it tastes super fresh.
Apart from meat, chicken and seafood, and potato salad, I like to serve fresh-cut veggies with a Greek yogurt dip, and fresh cut fruit such as watermelon (or this watermelon feta salad). And let’s not forget a classic – creamy cucumber salad.
For dessert, either grilled peaches with homemade frozen yogurt, or keto strawberry shortcake.
As for drinks, lemonade of course, but I would make it with stevia instead of sugar.
Sandra Sellani – The 40-Year-Old Vegan
I would throw a plant-based feast consisting of BBQ Jackfruit sliders, Fire Roasted Corn with a spicy chipotle drizzle, roasted poblano peppers stuffed with vegan feta and, one of my favorite refreshing drinks from my cookbook, Watermelon Quenchers.
Since I live in Newport Beach, California, the only decor I need is the backdrop of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and lots of colorful beach blankets for a very relaxed and cozy vibe.
Gwen Leron – Delightful Adventures
I don’t eat or serve meat, so I try to make my barbecue menus fun and interesting. I like to show that plant-based / vegan food can be just as delicious as the mainstream barbecue choices. I make recipes I’ve made before (now is not the time to be testing new things!) and that I know will work and go over well with everyone.
I also keep my guests’ dietary preferences/allergies in mind as well, so there is something suitable for everyone to eat, including any kids who may be attending.
For drinks, I keep things simple by purchasing a variety of drinks that I know will suit everyone. Sodas and juices are standard barbecue drinks for us.
As for decoration, I am a minimalist in that department and also keep things simple. I don’t tend to decorate for barbecues unless it’s a birthday celebration. In those cases, I go with standard balloons and streamer.
Lisa Goodwin – 2sharemyjoy
My family likes to keep things on the healthy and frugal side, so if I had to throw a barbecue party tomorrow I would use my favorite veggies to throw on the grill and make some delicious burgers. I like to buy seasonal vegetables or use up the veggies I already have at home to make easy vegan BBQ recipes.
For a healthy drink option, I enjoy making my own healthy, fruity sweet tea: Simply infuse cold water with berry tea or hibiscus tea leaves. To sweeten, I use lemon stevia drops.
For quick decorations, I hang some patio lights and set up the fire pit. I might even add some candles. In my opinion, a successful BBQ party doesn’t need fancy decorations, it needs to be relaxed and inviting with plenty of spaces for mingling and snacking.
Andre Arriaza – Barcelona Eat Local
I would keep it simple and to the point. For foods for grilling, I would buy easy meats to cook such as entrecote and sausages, plus a bunch of red & green peppers, eggplants, and zucchini.
I love grilling veggies, once ready you add a bit of salt and olive oil. They pair perfectly well with the meats.
Also, I would buy french baguette and olives, cheese, cured cuts and chips for the aperitif.
For drinks, that’s my favorite part. For aperitif few bottles of Aperol, Cava and Soda to prepare Aperol Spritz. Its the perfect cocktail for a barbeque, and is made of three equal parts of each drink.
As well, beer and wine, the key protagonists for the foods. I like to chill them in a bucket of ice. For non-alcohol drinkers, I prepare a hibiscus lemonade with soda, it works pretty well.
And last but not least, the decoration is an important part of a barbeque party, it creates a charming environment.
Usually, I go to a local shop to get some fun stuff. I love using a colorful tablecloth, stock a side table with fruit plates, sauces and drinks, buy funky paper glasses for soft drinks.
At home, I have a wheelbarrow which I fill with ice to chill the drinks, it impresses guests. Also, I prepare bottles of water with fruits or herbs, they look nice and the water tastes awesome.
Maggie – Maggies Oven Cleaning
When planning the menu for a BBQ party, we always include meat. Yet, a lot of people nowadays don’t tend to consume it. Therefore, you should think about the delicious vegetarian meals that they would enjoy eating.
Vegetarian kabobs are really easy to make and are full of so much flavor. Choose seasonal products such as tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, zucchini, and peppers. Cut the onion and the peppers in the same size. The zucchini doesn’t need to be cut too thin.
Remember that all the veggies will have to cook evenly. In fact, veggie kabobs are great for everyone and all of your guests will love them, so make sure to prepare more of these.
Burgers are everyone’s favorite not only for parties but on a daily basis, too. If you want, you can go for a classic recipe or use the occasion to experiment with new flavors. You can even make two types of burgers – a meat one and a vegetarian version, which your guests would love. Don’t forget to add the buns to the grill for a couple of minutes, too. This will make them crunchy and your burgers will taste delicious.
Make your own homemade BBQ sauce. You can use it to marinate whatever type of meat you’ve planned to cook on the grill. As a result, the meals will taste really good.
Remember the salad! A combination of fresh produce and herbs will definitely make a difference on your BBQ table. Chop some cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and parsley to make the easiest summer salad.
In terms of drinks, you can’t go wrong with them. Feel free to offer several refreshing options to your guests. Make some fresh orange juice and strawberry and mint infused water for any little guests. Adults will definitely enjoy these, too, but you can whip up a cocktail or two for them as well.
To decorate your party is an absolute must! Here’s my dash of tips and advice:
Use fresh produce and herbs from your vegetable garden or the store to decorate your delicious drinks. The taste of homemade food and beverages is second-to-none and will definitely impress everybody.
Get creative and make infused water, fresh juice and easy cocktails for your friends and family to enjoy. Scatters leaves through the table or mix it with your drinks, hang it around the area, or use it to decorate your dish.
What is a BBQ party without some flowers to make your food table more special and appealing? You don’t even have to spend a lot on table centerpieces. In fact, you can just DIY it using beautiful flowers from your garden that you can arrange in various ways.
You can also keep mosquitoes at bay by using herbs! There are several herbs that can help you repel those insects while entertaining outside, such as sage, lavender, lemon balm, etc. All you have to do is add them to the grill as soon as you are done cooking so that mosquitoes don’t disturb you and your guests.
Clean your BBQ so that it’s ready for the upcoming parties all season long. The BBQ should be well-maintained and cleaned properly before or after each season to make sure you prepare healthy and delicious food every time. It can be a tedious job, so if you are not willing to tackle this task, better leave it to a professional. It’s a fact that food done on a well-cleaned BBQ tastes better.
Barbecues call always for a huge amount of meat and bread and not enough veggies or healthy dips to balance the meal.
If I had to throw a barbecue party tomorrow I’d prepare a delicious mojo picón, a red bell peppers spread from Spain and I’d have everyone trying it with some raw veggie sticks.
I’d also add a caper hummus that tastes delicious with meats and finally some cute zucchini roll-ups that everyone can eat with two fingers.
Carrie Forrest – Clean Eating Kitchen
I have so many vegan and vegetarian friends, I would throw a veggie-themed BBQ.
There are so many great vegetables and fruits that can be grilled, including sliced zucchini, portobello mushrooms, vegetable skewers, sliced peaches, etc. I might even ask each of my friends to bring their favorite fruit or vegetable and see if we can grill it!
Then, I would keep the drinks and decor simple. I like to serve kombucha for a healthy bubbly option, and then use plants from my house to decorate my patio.
I also like to use outdoor twinkly lights on my patio to give some great atmosphere when the sun goes down.
Jim Mumford – Jim Cooks Food Good
So for my barbecue party, I would keep it light and fun.
For food, I would feature something impressive, but something I could do ahead of time (I don’t want to spend the entire time cooking!). Smoked Pork Shoulder, Short Rib Chili, quickly fired Grilled Pizza would all be on the menu. I’d round it out with a Pesto Pasta Salad and some fruit for dessert!
For drinks, my friends always bring something with them (good friends you know), but I’d make a spiked lemonade or batch out some Old Fashioned’s, just to keep the party moving.
For decorations, I’ll let my backyard do the majority of the work, but a nicely decorated table (think greens and light blues) will accompany the scenery nicely. Round it out with some fun theme music (I’m feeling 90’s pop, because why not) and you’ve got a backyard party for the ages!
Melissa Erdelac – MamaGourmand
When planning a BBQ plan on serving food be prepared ahead of time and make sure that guests can serve themselves. I like to have everything prepared and laid out, so when the party comes around I only have to eat, enjoy, and socialize. No one wants to see a frantic, frazzled host!
As far as main dishes, marinated chicken breasts, burgers, or kabobs can be cooked quickly, served in rounds, or kept warm in a low oven. Make ahead side dishes such as potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, or broccoli salad are perfect options because the flavor develops when prepared in advance.
Jello salads are always a hit with kids and adults alike and use different flavors or colors to adapt to the theme. As far as green salads, a traditional favorite, Seven Layer Salad needs to be prepared 24 hours in advance, so it’s a win-win!
When I have a party approaching the first thing I make is dessert because virtually all cakes, brownies, and cookies can be frozen. Uncut brownies, baked cookies, and frosted cakes store perfectly in the freezer. For cakes, the frosting provides an extra protection layer. The day of the party simply set the frozen dessert on the counter, thaw a few hours, cut, and serve when needed.
Yasmin – By The Forkful
If I had to throw a barbecue party tomorrow, I would focus on big, easy sides that will serve big groups with less prep time required. I’m thinking a big potato salad with a vinegar dressing, roasted peppers, and mushrooms with some chickpeas and pesto thrown in, and a huge green salad with chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spring onion, and radishes.
With lots of delicious sides, you don’t have to worry about overloading the barbecue on short notice – although I can never say no to a bean burger and barbecued corn!
For drinks, I love serving a big batch of iced tea because not many people go throw the effort of serving it themselves.
Beverly Friedmann – My Food Subscriptions
If I threw a barbecue party tomorrow, I would serve food that fit into everyone’s potential diet and was still fun and festive.
Some ideas that come to mind are gourmet tea sandwiches (of all varieties), burgers (including turkey and veggie) with mozzarella, pesto Caprese salad, and some baked chicken nuggets. Dips, cheeses, and cracker options are always a must, but if you can make homemade original dip options that earns you even more brownie points.
Drinks on the menu (these could include alcohol or not, audience dependent) would include spicy Bloody Mary’s, old fashioned Shirley Temples, and fruit refreshers with a spin (say adding some fresh mint and a lime and lemon wedge to top with each).
Decorations would include picnic themes like checkered tablecloths, menu boards, fresh flowers, table setups, and fun games to keep guests entertained during the event.
Kristen Link – Wellness by Kristen
When planning a barbecue party, I always recommend including foods and drinks that can be made ahead of time to go along with your freshly grilled items.
This helps you spend less time inside the house preparing food and more time outside enjoying your party! Foods like potato salad or cornbread can all be made in advance and served when ready.
For drinks, it’s great to have a pre-mixed batch of cocktails like a summer sangria or margaritas in addition to typical beers and wines.
Making these cocktails in a batch and keeping them in a large pitcher or drink dispenser also allows guests to easily grab another drink when they need it rather than having to make each one individually.
Depending on who will be attending your party, you could also offer pre-made mocktails for those who do not drink alcohol. Try mixing up some fresh fruit with sparkling water and a splash of fruit juice for something refreshing and more interesting than plain water or soda.
Lucy Harris – Hello Baby Bump
When it comes to food and at a BBQ Party I will often choose the simplest things to prepare that are often pleasers among crowds. This will often include, burgers, sausages, steaks, chops etc.
I will prepare basic side dishes to accompany ie other burger fillings, salade, coleslaw, fruit, chips, dip. The last thing I will do is tell the guest to bring something along with them if they can, whether it is a side dish, a drink, snacks or meat – this cuts costs and ensures that there is something everyone is going to enjoy.
Drinks I will supply juice, sodas, cordial – other than that is is usually BYO, otherwise, it can become too difficult to cater to everyone.
Decorations. This is often debatable for me, I can either take it or leave it as a BBQ Party is usually thrown to spend time with friends and family for a celebration or just a catch-up. Simple things from table cloths and a few strings of fairy lights are my go to. It is simple, yet effective.
I love picking themes for gatherings, including last-minute barbecue parties. Themes help give me a focus and makes the moment more memorable. Since I’m focused on planetary health right now in my work, I’d love to throw an earth-friendly cookout. So, I’ll aim to keep it simple and plant-based with low waste. To add a touch of intrigue, perhaps I’ll give it Middle Eastern flair. And I’ll look to see what ingredients I already have and use them as inspiration for the menu.
With all of this in mind, for an app, I’d likely do pistachio-accented hummus with pickled pistachios along with whole grain pita and seasonal crudités. For an entrée and side, I’d grill up eggplant gyros and baby potato kebabs. I’d serve tabbouleh or a super simple leafy salad, like fattoush, too.
And for desserts, I’ll have everyone bring one—ideally inspired by the theme–so that’ll be one less thing for me to prepare on short notice. For drinks, I’d offer some organic wine and beer along with one specialty cocktail, such as a pomegranate-mint mojito, and a couple of non-alcoholic beverage options, including filtered tap water, of course.
I’ll absolutely skip plastic and Styrofoam, and use real (or bamboo) utensils and plates, glasses not throwaway cups, re-usable or compostable straws, and cloth napkins.
Décor will be minimal but likely feature some rugs and cushions so everyone can eat while sitting on the ground. For a bit more of a Middle Eastern vibe, I’ll sprinkle in some Arabic music and lead a line dance. I seriously can’t wait to throw this barbecue party!
Bernice Quek – Bumble Scoop
I absolutely love planning parties! For a start, I would set a simple but fun dress code – something like pastel theme so that the aesthetics are on point but at the same time, everyone wouldn’t be too stressed out about what to wear. It’s important to ensure that your guests are comfortable!
Next, I’d pick a gorgeous function space as the venue of the party where there are air-conditioned and sheltered outdoor areas. This allows the barbecue to go on even if it rains and gives your guests the option of sitting in the air-con when it gets too warm (since summer is approaching).
The decorations would then draw inspiration from the feel of the venue. If the venue has been elaborately decorated and accessorized, I’d keep my decorations to a minimum just to bring hints of the theme. But if it’s plain and under-decorated, I will go crazy with pom pom lanterns, paper garlands, themed table cloths and more!
As for the food, I’ll keep it to the classic barbecue food that we all love – meat patties, sausages, burger buns and to top it all off, mouth-watering sauces! Of course, there would also be ice cold beers and kid-friendly drinks like soda if there are kids. For those who are extremely hungry, there would be some readymade sides such as fries and coleslaw to cut the waiting time. Depending on the occasion, I might include a dessert table as well!
Lastly, to complete the entire party experience, there would be some classic age-appropriate games and activities such as the limbo, beer pong and bingo!
Karen Ricks – Our Kitchen Classroom
– Handmade Italian-style Fennel & Black Pepper Sausage;
– Burgers topped with our favorite homemade Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce;
– Loads of sliced vegetables to throw on the grill for skewers and burger toppings (onion, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, lemon/lime for seasoning);
– Fresh fruits to char for dessert, letting the grill and the smoke accentuate their natural sweetness (peaches and pineapples, apricots, plums).
– Spa waters to sit in the fridge and chill overnight (cucumber, lime, mint);
– Herbaceous lemonade and limeade, splashed with homemade vanilla to smooth out the tart citrus notes (basil, mint, cilantro).
Let the food and local flora decorate the table, and the spring sunshine and dappled shadows wash over the joyous smiles on everyone’s faces as they gather around to enjoy great food and fellowship!
Jen Herrmann – Girls Meets Party
If I were throwing a BBQ tomorrow, I would hands down order adorable plates and plastic cutlery. Harlow & Grey is always my go-to for adorable party supplies.
Summertime is all about fresh, fun and light. So many people lean into reds, whites, and blues for the holiday, but I love to lean into yellows, whites, blues, and gold for an extra pop.
I’d set a long farm table with a beautiful white paper runner and a long lemon leaf runner. Sprinkled throughout would be lemons and tea light candles.
Fun, vintage glasses would line the table with gold paper straws elegantly hanging out of the glass. Pretty blue & white plates would sit at the table with the paper napkin loosely tied with a yellow ribbon. A place card would be delicately tied to the napkin with a hand-lettered name.
For the food, I would do upscale bbq by basting hot dog buns and hamburger buns with a little butter and sprinkling fun toppings like poppyseed or paprika on them to add flavor. My sides grilled veggies would be farmer’s market inspired based on what’s in season.
Lastly, for dessert, I’d have beautifully colored fruit in stemless wine glasses topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Candess Zona-Mendola – Make Food Safe
If I had a BBQ party tomorrow, I would keep it simple. I feel BBQ is all about being outside and eating great food. The decor would be white plates, mason jar glasses, and red napkins tied with twine. I love sunflowers, so likely those would grace the middle of the table. We also have strings of lights running through our yard and a fire pit, perfect for roasting marshmallows when the sun goes down.
Living in Texas, BBQ is about one main thing – meat. As a working mom, I sadly don’t have time to make brisket the right way. So, I would go with the old reliable ribeye steak grilled with herb butter.
I also like to keep sides rustic, so I would partner the steak with a grilled squash medley (zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant), some bacon-wrapped asparagus seasoned with peppercorns, and bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos.
Drinks? There’s nothing more Texas than ice cold beer and Sweet Tea. I would round the whole thing off with a light dessert as Strawberry Shortcake made with fresh Texas Poteet Strawberries and homemade whipped cream.
Jessica Formicola – Savory Experiments
We entertain a lot at our house and half of the time, it is a last minute get together. Hot dogs and hamburgers are the easiest, but I prefer to make marinated chicken pieces, tights, and drumsticks, in a light marinade.
Buying chicken pieces is cheaper than buying breasts or hamburgers, plus you don’t have to worry about all of the fixings! Homemade baked beans and pasta salad come together in a snap. I use all of the leftover odds and ends in my vegetable crisper for the pasta salad.
I also like to make a non-alcoholic sparkling punch and then set up a few adult floaters of rum, vodka and flavored liquor on the side.
Decorations tend to be things I can find around the yard or get the kids to decorate. Mason jars with flavors, greenery and painted rocks. Sometimes I’ll even set up a craft table just for the kids to keep them occupied while the adults mingle!
Lindsay Moe – The Live-In Kitchen
If you need to throw a barbecue on short notice, focus on a few main categories. Choose a house drink or cocktail to serve, such as a pitcher of refreshing mojitos. This simplifies the options and prep. Choose one or two proteins to cook on the grill, as well as a vegan or gluten-free option depending on your guests.
This could be bone-in chicken thighs, which will stay juicier against the heat of the grill, and a handful of sturdy vegetables such as onions, zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms. Chips or baked beans are barbecue favorites that are easy to grab and serve.
Plan to make one pasta or lettuce salad that will fill out people’s plates. A pesto based salad elevates the meal while staying food safe on a warm day for much longer than a mayonnaise-based salad would.
For decoration, you can select a few flowers from your yard or, if you have time, swing by a nearby farmer’s market where you can usually find reasonably priced, unique bouquets.
You don’t need fancy vases, a few shallow bowls scattered around with a small selection of flowers will create a pleasant atmosphere. Consider keeping citronella candles on hand to keep bugs away while offering a beautiful flicker of light on the table.
Laura Brooks – Laura The Chef
I would do a Mexican theme! For the entree, I would grill corn tortillas and toss together some tequila lime shrimp for a fun taco bar. I would serve that with Mexican coleslaw, grilled vegetables, and a pepita pesto. And to get the party started, I would begin with grilled salsa verde and guacamole.
Fresh-squeezed margaritas are the best warm-weather drinks.
For decoration, I would pull all of the succulents that are scattered around my house and do a long, casual centerpiece.
Mexican dinner parties are easy to throw together and are always a crowd pleaser. I love to have some dishes that are pre-made quickly and easily on one of my prep appliances, as well as some that have some active cooking time.
Amira – Amira’s Pantry
If I had to throw a barbecue party tomorrow, it would be of a Mediterranean theme. To get a taste of this charming region, I would rely heavily on white with shades of blue here and there. I would use a white tablecloth to cover tables with napkins and tableware that carries the blue hues. Would use yellow flowers and greens for my centerpiece.
Food is a big thing in the region, in fact, hospitality is always expressed through food. I will serve everything family-style as the act of passing and sharing dishes is more common and casual.
A Mezze platter filled with homemade hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and olives will stand the outdoor heat and can be prepared ahead of time. Lamb and beef kebabs, kofta, eggplant dishes, and a huge couscous salad will satisfy everyone’s hunger.
Drinks and refreshers like mojito mocktails will be served with a platter of dry fruits, cheese, and nuts.
Finally, I would like to have a Moroccan corner with scattered cushions on the floor surrounding a table where I will be serving Moroccan mint tea and desserts.
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