Today was yet another great barbeque put on by the Lopez family. Quite a bit of planning goes into even the simplest barbeques. Here is what I do to host a fabulous party that usually goes off without a hitch:
The pre-planning process is imperative to help the event day roll forward with ease. First thing is first, don’t forget to invite your guests! Let them know what day and time you will be holding the event, your address, a phone number you can be reached at for RSVP’s (if applicable), the purpose of the event, and let them know if you would like them to bring drinks or a side dish at the time of the invite just so there is no confusion. I like to host pot-luck events because you also get to taste their favorite dishes or drinks and you don’t have to purchase everything.
Pre-cleaning: I recommend getting your cleaning out of the way prior to the day of the event just so you don’t have to worry about it the day of. Pre-cleaning can consist of cleaning / vacuuming carpets, washing walls / windows, cleaning off cluttered areas (i.e. desks, fireplace mantels, etc.), cleaning bathrooms, and a thorough cleaning of the kitchen. Inspect each area of your home your guests will have access to – is it clean and presentable?
Make two shopping lists – one for menu items and one for everything else. The menu items list will include all food items that you will need to purchase for the event, and the ‘everything else’ list will be for the items you need to purchase for décor, games, any any other misc. items.
Menu: I always suggest a simple menu (unless you like to go extravagant) and I always suggest using tried and true recipes. The only time I recommend trying new recipes is if you are hosting an event where everyone knows that you are experimenting with new foods. My barbeque menu usually consists of chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, fish, steak or the like for barbequing; baked beans and homemade potato salad for sides; chips and / or veggie platter for appetizers; and drinks to fit the company you have invited. I also recommend prepping any food prior to the day of the event, if possible (i.e. cutting up veggies, cooking eggs, etc.).
Games: I like to provide simple games that not everyone has to participate in and can rotate through depending on their liking. Some of the games that we generally have (please keep in mind that we always have lots of children around) include Baggo Board (a fun bean bag game for anyone at any age), cards, darts, football, and today we played in the water with water balloons. The games should be representative of your guests and their ages / likes.
Décor: I generally don’t go all-out with additional décor only because my events are simple; however, if it is a birthday party or other special occasion you can put up whatever decorations you would like. Some general decorations I like include table cloths, center pieces (I prefer one’s that are reusable for future events), balloons, streamers, and maybe a yard sign announcing where the event is (in your yard of course).
Misc. Items: You can’t forget the ‘other stuff’, such as paper plates, plastic forks / knives / spoons, disposable cups, foil, plastic wrap, disposable pans, and any other serving utensils or serving food trays / bowls that you might need for your event. I like to use disposable items because clean-up is so much easier. Be sure to check your propane / charcoal prior to going shopping so you don’t have to make multiple trips. Also, make sure you have music to play in the background that suits your guests liking. If you aren’t sure what type of music they like, I recommend going with whatever is playing on the radio.
The day of the event will be hectic, no doubt. If you have helpers I highly recommend using them to their full capabilities to help prepare food, put up decorations (if you would like), and finish any clean up that is still needed (there’s always a little something left to do).
If you have told your guests that the event will begin at 3 pm then have your barbeque grill ready to go at that time so you can start cooking when they get there. We like to have everyone hang out in the backyard with the games around the barbeque so that everyone can socialize and no one feels left out while the food is cooking. If you have a true grill master in your house, as my husband is, he or she can tell you how long it will take for the grill to heat up to the right temperature or for the coals to get red hot.
Your grill master should also be able to give you a 10 minute warning before the food is done cooking so that you can set out any sides, condiments, and additional drinks in a serve-yourself type of setup. When the weather is beautiful we like to put the food on the table in the dining room and eat outside. The games should be easy enough that there shouldn’t be anyone ‘manning’ them so everyone can participate freely.
That’s it…kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labor and relax! After all, this is a social gathering and you deserve to relax, too.
What are some of the most delicious foods that you have eaten at barbeques you have either hosted or attended?