Updated: Sep 17, 2021
Ideas for a Stress-Free Barbecue
The summer of 2020 has been very different for all of us. The usual exciting lineup of backyard parties, barbecues, and beach bonfires have all disappeared. For very good reasons.
That said, not all fun summer celebrations have to involve large gatherings. A backyard barbecue with just the family or a few close friends can create amazing memories and brighten the whole season. It may be more important than ever this year. Laughter and fun are good for the body and the spirit. Let's raise those good vibes!
Here are some tips to keep your backyard party as fun and stress-free as possible.
1. Classic Summer Playlist
The best party playlist brings a smile to everyone's face but isn't distracting from conversation or activities. Start with a bunch of summer-time classics. If they're cheesy, even better! It'll make people laugh.
Next, add music from your best summer memories. Are there songs that remind you of a particular vacation? Or watching a family member play sports? Or a school dance or party? Spark those memories.
Then, sprinkle in some newer hits that match your taste. This'll keep things fresh and fun.
Aim for around five hours of music. If anyone notices a repeat after that long, they seriously need another drink. Hit play and walk away.
2. Casual Seating
Make sure you have seats for everyone. Hammocks, folding chairs, beach chairs, you can use anything at your disposal, but don't leave people standing around. Laying out bright picnic blankets or even beach towels is a great way to provide seating that doubles as colorful decoration.
3. Viva Piñata!
Want an eye-catching decoration that doubles as entertainment? Grab a piñata! Pick some colors that match your theme (or at least that you like), and fill it with dollar-store treats. For adults, colorful wearables like beads and sunglasses can make for hilarious photos throughout the night.
4. Games for the Kids, and the Adults
Speaking of games, make sure there are plenty of options to keep any kiddos entertained so the adults can chat. A variety of activities like cornhole, horseshoes, Frisbee tic-tac-toe, or giant Jenga can be tucked off to the side or staged front-and-center.
If you have a projector, an outdoor movie is a sure-fire win after dark.
If you want a Backyard Theatre, enter El Yucateco's current Go Native promotion. They just might send one your way!
5. Light it Up
Hanging out with good friends and family doesn't have to end when the sun goes down. With the grill fired up, no one will want to leave. Just make sure everyone can see as they navigate the yard and toss those beanbags.
Wrap string lights along fences or trees or even low bushes to create a warm, inviting ambiance and make sure everyone can still see their burgers.
Hang lanterns on hooks or sit them together on tables for some extra glow.
6. Keep Bugs at Bay
Citronella candles add more light to the scene while discouraging any biting bugs that might show up around sunset. Various oils can also be burned in torches to clear the air.
Mosquitoes are very weak flyers, so a gentle breeze is enough to send them on their way. Set up a few fans around the dinner table to scatter the bugs and keep your guests cool. It's also a good idea to put a small tabletop fan near the buffet.
For a more permanent solution, a whole variety of herbs and ornamental plants are known to chase bugs away. Try planting some marigolds, mint, or lavender around the yard to discourage mosquitoes all season long. Potted versions work just as well.
7. Kiddie Pool Cooler
Cold drinks are a must for a happy summer party. Keep things cool by filling a kiddie pool (or inflatable pool float) with ice and using it as a cooler. This can work for drinks as well as for keeping cold dips or salad chilled while sitting out during dinner.
If you can, put the pool up on a table, rather than on the ground. This makes it convenient for guests while keeping it out of pet reach.
8. Batch Mix Cocktails
If you're the grill master for the night, you don't want to also play bartender. Make it easy for guests to pour their own beverages by choosing one or two signature cocktails and pre-mixing batches. This way, everyone can serve themselves as needed.
9. Bag Your Treats
Finger foods can get messy outdoors, so keep things together with simple school lunch bags. Finger foods like chips, Chex Mix, or popcorn can be scooped into bags and carried around the yard without sliding off plates or napkins.
10. Build a S'mores Bar
No barbecue is complete without dessert, and campfire s'mores are the outdoor classic. You just can't beat the ooey-gooey sweetness.
Make things more interesting by adding some extra flavors to the classics. Lay out a spread of ingredients for people to mix-and-match their own flavor combinations.
In addition to the usual marshmallows, milk chocolate, and Grahams, try a few of these tasty options:
· Ritz crackers
· Ginger snaps
· Apple slices
· Dark chocolate (top your chocolate with a dash of El Yucateco Black for a spicy combo!)
· Peanut butter cups
· Fresh raspberries
· Chocolate hazelnut spread
· Cookie spread
· Flavored marshmallows
The fun is in the testing and tasting.
If you're longing for s'mores but want to keep things simpler, try out our Double Chocolate Spicy S'mores Cookie recipe. They incorporate a little El Yucateco kick, so you can bake them ahead and still give your guests that just-toasted feeling.
Have you learned any backyard barbecue tricks of your own? What are your personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
For more hot and spicy tips and recipes for entertaining, check out these other posts: