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friends at the barbecue

Hosting a successful BBQ bash is easy when you are well-prepared. Let’s look at some ideas and tips for a fun barbecue summer party.

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If it’s not summer already in your part of the world, it will soon be. (Unless you live in Australia or New Zealand. In that case, keep this post for your Christmas BBQ!). And what’s more synonymous with summer than backyard BBQ parties? (Well, maybe ice cream. And swimming pools. But it’s pretty close.)

Backyard barbecues are part of my childhood. We’d have one at least once or twice every summer: on June 24th (Québec’s national holiday) and sometime in August, which usually comes in the form of a corn-shucking party. This particular gathering consists of buying an enormous pouch of corn, inviting family and friends to help shuck it, and eating it along with other BBQ goodies. It’s a particular Québecois tradition that I sadly find myself missing out here in BC, where corn doesn’t grow as abundantly, and where most people shuck their corn in the grocery store. Weird.

But just like any kind of big party or gathering, the summer BBQ bash needs a bit of preparation and thought to be a successful event. Have you considered these things as you choose the date(s) for your own backyard party(ies) this summer?

Beyond the burger

Good food can make the difference between a party to remember and a “just okay” gathering. Sure, the typical burgers and hot dogs can do the trick in a pinch, but with our access to plenty of gourmet items in even the most ordinary of grocery stores, you can do much, much better. All you need is a little forethought.

Try twists on traditional BBQ food: bison meat burgers in artisan buns, German sausages in pretzel hot dog buns, handmade ketchup and artisan mustard, a fresh quinoa salad or tabouleh; the possibilities are infinite. Just take a look at the meat section of your grocery store for ideas; even better, visit your local butcher.

Corny strategies for awesome barbecue fair

And, if you want to try the Québec way, when corn is in season, you can add shucking and boiling ears and eating them with butter and salt to your party. Try flavoured butters and gourmet salts to add a little variety and sophistication to this old New France summer tradition.

barbecued corn

Grape is great

A few bottles of wine to pair with the different meat and salad offerings will make your party even more successful. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but remember these basic principles: the stronger the flavour of the meal, the bolder the wine.

Red wine for burger and hot dog eaters; white wine for salads. If you decide to offer fish, white wine is also a good match. Your wine specialist at the liquor store can help you choose based on your menu.

Make your guests comfortable

Plenty of seating is essential for a successful BBQ bash. If you haven’t checked out our outdoor furniture ideas, take a moment. There is plenty of inspiration there to get you thinking about a fully decked-out deck. Pun intended.

But of course, you’ll need extra seating for all the guests. Pair the cheap and practical plastic patio chairs with some cushions for comfort and visual variety. Set them out in various little gatherings around the yard to invite conversations. Make sure there are a few tables for each little gathering space so people can set down their drinks and food.

monte carlo conversation set

Monte Carlo 6-piece conversation set from BuildDirect.

If children are coming, you’ll want to provide for them as well. Make sure there are some fun lawn games for them to play. Parents often have their own, but it’s good to have a few options just in case they forget. Clear your yard of potential hazards so children can play safely all day long.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Today’s good host is an eco-conscious host. Summer parties can involve lots of garbage in the form of plastic cups and cutlery and wasted food.

There are plenty of options for compostable plates and cutlery. (Napkins are paper–paper is usually compostable anyway.) If you don’t have a set of patio glassware, it might be time to invest in one. Those one-use plastic cups and wine glasses only clog up landfills. A good set of patio glassware is washable, reusable and will last you several seasons.

Make sure to have a compost bin for food waste and compostable items–and make sure that your guests know about it. It’s no use if everyone throws their stuff in the garbage!

Have fun!

Being a party host can be stressful, but you mustn’t forget to have fun. Gathering family and friends, no matter the occasion, is a time to reconnect and celebrate. Make time to sit down and enjoy the company, the food and the wine.

The last advice I have for you is to get good weather, but since nobody really has control over that, I only hope that you choose a good date for your party!

What summer barbecue party plans do you have for this summer? Are you hosting your family’s 4th of July party (or 1st of July in Canada)? Let us know about your ideas and tips for a successful BBQ bash!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.