Barbecues can be a wonderful and casual way to bring family and friends together to enjoy each other’s company. Grilling outdoors adapts itself readily to any lifestyle, and can be as ambitious or low-key as befits the occasion.
PREPARATION IS EVERYTHING.
As anyone who has thrown a barbecue once or twice can attest, the key difference between a fun time for everyone, and a frantic disaster is preparation. Before inviting over a large group, get to know your grill and how it operates before you throw yourself into a hosting role. Whether you are using a gas or charcoal grill, learning how to time and place your various foodstuffs will be invaluable knowledge during a party. Foods that can be prepared easily and quickly ahead of time, such as kebabs and sausages, can be a fun and inexpensive way to feed a large group.
A good assortment of side dishes can help round out any good barbecue. Basics, like a chopped salad, coleslaw, or potato salad hold up well and can be made up the night before your event. In this sort of casual gathering, guests can also feel free to bring any of their signature dishes as accompaniments, without upsetting the balance of the meal. Utensils, napkins and cups can also be laid out ahead of time, allowing for one less item to have to worry about.
Barbecue’s traditional buffet serving style can expand to fit any assortment of unexpected guests, and can be incredibly child friendly. As in any other social gathering, ready seating will serve to make your guests more comfortable and ready to have a good time. Bench seating along a dining table can be very versatile for squeezing in an extra guest or two, as can lounge seating in a pinch. Having additional stackable or foldable chairs can also be useful for accommodating guests.
KEEPING PLATES (AND CUPS) FULL.
Even after the grill is turned off, the afore-mentioned side salads can sustain a good BBQ by keeping options open for guests who may still want another nibble (or two). Drinks are another element that can easily be prepared ahead of time. Bottled water, soft drinks, wine or beers can be laid out in large ice buckets, while premade containers of cocktail mixes can be kept chilled indoors or in an outdoor refrigerator and refilled as necessary.
STAYING A LITTLE LONGER.
A great BBQ should allow for guests to linger as long as they are welcome. Outdoor lighting, such as hurricane lanterns, string lighting and fire pits, can sustain a barbecue well into the night.
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