19 Jun Five Easy Tips to Follow Next Time You’re Hosting an Outdoor Barbecue
Barbecues are a great way of taking advantage of the summer weather and having an enjoyable social event. Whether it’s for a few friends, family, neighbours or a mixture, whether big or small, a barbecue can be an extremely enjoyable social occasion. If things go wrong, however, the barbecue you looked forward to can be a total disaster and something to forget.
Here are a few tips to help you ensure your outdoor barbecue is successful, stress-free and enjoyable.
1. Plan Every Detail
The secret of any successful event is generally careful and detailed planning. If you plan for every eventuality, things are less likely to go wrong, and the whole event should run smoothly.
Before the event, consider:
- Guests — who they are and how many. You want a good mix to create the right atmosphere and need to ensure you can cater for the numbers.
- Weather. Although Australian summers are consistently good, avoid any days when the weather is less than perfect. Look at the forecast before arranging your event and steer clear of high winds and possible storms that may spoil the barbecue.
- Food. Cover the barbecue staples of burgers, chicken, sausages and ribs but also consider something a bit different so your event stands out. Don’t forget salads and other side dishes, make sure you cater for vegetarians and vegans who might be coming as well as those with special dietary needs. It might seem a pain, but the last thing you want is guests going hungry because you have nothing they can or will eat.
- Drinks. Have plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, especially on hot days, and take account of the number of children who will be present.
- Accessories. As well as the food and drink, you need enough plates, cups, knives, forks and spoons — possibly of the disposable variety to make things easier — so all your guests can eat and drink together. Also, make sure you have enough fuel for the barbecue.
Running out of anything can seriously disrupt your event, so plan what you need and ensure you have enough.
2. Prepare in Advance
The more you can do before the event, the smoother it will go. So prepare all your salads, side dishes and desserts before your guests start to arrive and make sure any frozen meat is properly defrosted, so you don’t have a last minute panic.
Mix punches and other drinks and set out everything on side tables so it’s all to hand. That way, you’ll be organised and relaxed when everyone turns up. And make sure your barbecue is fired up and hot when you need it so your guests aren’t kept waiting for food.
3. Have Everything Set Out
Hold your barbecue where there’s plenty of room for your guests to sit, stand and generally mingle. This is usually a garden or patio area with easy access to the house interior where the drinks, side dishes and desserts may be so they’re separate to the main cooking area.
You want everyone to be relaxed and comfortable so provide enough chairs, tables, benches and picnic rugs so guests can find their own type of space and eat, drink and socialise in comfort. Also be aware of the need for safety so keep children away from any source of heat and have a fire extinguisher available in case of flare-ups.
4. Keep your Guests Comfortable and Entertained
Don’t simply organise your barbecue around daytime hours because, especially if it’s a successful event, it may well drift on for a long time. Make sure you have plenty of outside lighting, with decorative lights put up to add effect, so you can keep going after the sun disappears.
If you’re not having your barbecue at the height of summer, be prepared with patio heaters to keep your guests warm. And have some background music if necessary, to create the right atmosphere.
When children are attending, organise some games and activities to keep them amused. You may also want to have something for the adults so everyone gets involved.
5. Enjoy Yourself
Although you’re running the event for the benefit of your guests, don’t forget that you should also enjoy it. Don’t try to be the organiser, chef, dispenser of drinks and genial host because it’s all too much.
The secret is to delegate as much as possible. That can extend to asking guests to bring salads, other side dishes and desserts so you’ve less to prepare. Don’t be afraid to do this because people are usually happy to contribute and like to demonstrate their culinary skills.
By all means, greet you guests and offer them a drink when they arrive. Then make it plain they can help themselves to future drinks, which most people will prefer to do since it avoids hanging around.
If you organise, prepare and delegate correctly, you’ll enjoy the barbecue as much as your guests.