How to Host the Best Backyard BBQ

Hosting even a small gathering has become more of a special occasion than ever before. Low-key backyard bbq’s included. So in anticipation of having a couple of friends over this weekend (who have also been safely quarantining), we put together our hosting plan that you can easily replicate for your next get together. Can’t wait for you to try the signature cocktail (that readily converts to a mocktail!):

Signature Cocktail.

This is one of our favorite ways to make our guests feel really special. Sure you can have the usual beer and wine on hand if that’s their preference, but it is so much more fun to offer up a signature cocktail or mocktail. Jon is whipping up this delicious drink, and since I got to taste test on Sunday, I can confirm it is the BEST I’ve sampled this summer. Plus, look at those ingredients, it’s practically a smoothie, so, cheers to health!:

  • Blend together 1 cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1 can of light coconut milk, juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp. honey, vodka and ice. Optional: add a handful of dark chocolate chips to the blender!
  • Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a strawberry on top.

To serve, these freezable wine glasses are the true MVP of summer.

And the hobnail trend isn’t going away anytime soon if this look is more your jam (lots of colors to choose from):

I’m also loving these containers for fresh squeezed lemonade, or water that you can fancy up with some lemon and lime ice cubes!

Snack Stations.

Especially if you’re serving cocktails, you’re outside in the hot summer sun, or you have kiddos at the gathering; snack stations are a must. I love a good cheeseboard or an easy dip you can serve alongside crudité and chips, as long as they’re inside where it’s cool. If you’re planning on being outside, it’s a great touch to place the dip above a bowl of ice, and have a covering so you don’t have the dreaded fly landing smack dab in the middle, when suddenly, no one is hungry.

Another favorite find, these individual trays for people to bring wherever they’re sitting and eat from. Especially when it’s a casual gathering, this is the perfect solution to not having an outdoor dining table, (or even the occasional weeknight when your family wants to eat on the couch). Pro tip: use a dry erase marker to write names on the side.

If you’ve been with us for a bit, you know what big fans we are of Ain’t Too Proud to Meg. She has the most creative, edible cheese boards we’ve seen. Plus, they are easier than you’d imagine to put together. I had most of these ingredients in our pantry, and am working on something similar to this one for the bbq:

Simplicity Wins.

When it comes to the main dish, we like to keep it as basic as possible, and make something we’ve perfected a million times over. This weekend Jon is cooking his famous coal-fired pizzas (but I will have the corner pizza joint on speed dial just in case 😳😆). As for the sides, we’re putting together two easy salads. This caprese salad is simple, vibrant, and usually a crowd pleaser!

I live for a crisp caesar salad in the summertime. All year round, really. Here’s the second salad we’re working on, along with our homemade recipe for the dressing (and I bet you have all the ingredients on hand!). Whisk all together and adjust as needed:

  • 1 c. mayo
  • 1/2 c. of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 T. mustard (I like spicy!)
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • tiny splash of half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sweets to go!

Have you ever been at a party ready to say goodbye and the host says, but wait! We still have to cut the cake! Oof. We like to have something easy, or already wrapped up for guests to take home. These chocolate chip cookies are to. die. for. and if you haven’t tried this hyped up recipe, the time is now.

And because the heat index will be well over 100 degrees, these Oreosicles will be made ahead of time, and waiting for us in the freezer if they aren’t flying out the door.

Speaking of ahead of time, that's really the key to successful entertaining, isn't it? Having all of your cleaning, as much cooking as possible, and little details taken care of gives you a sense of calm before guests arrive. Then you can focus on being present in conversations, and not worry about putting food out on time, or if the music is too loud, or the deck furniture is still soggy. Chances are, even if everything goes south, it will still be a memorable time because when was the last time you got to see people?! You'll be magnanimous. Your food will be delicious. The cocktails will be delightful and refreshing. Cheers to you!

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