10 Top Tips for a Stress Free BBQ!

One of the best ways to enjoy the hazy, lazy days of summer is to invite friends over for an alfresco feast. If you want to ensure your barbecue goes off without a hitch, take a look at these tips to plan ahead and keep the party going when night falls...
1) Test your equipment
Before you send out the invites, check your barbecue is up to the job. It may sound obvious, but if it’s gas make sure it’s working. And the size of your grill should determine how many people you invite, as the last thing you want is people waiting for their food when you run out of room. 

If you’re planning to entertain often or are a serious cook, it might be worth investing in a larger barbecue with a prep area.

2) Consider your seating
Guests will need a comfortable place to sit and eat, so think about seating. In a compact space like this one, consider bench seating so everyone can squeeze in. Of course, you may not have this kind of built-in option, and so having a stash of collapsable chairs or a fashionable and also foldable bierkeller bench could be good standbys, too. 

Think about practicalities, too: some people are happy to eat on their laps, but others prefer will a surface. A mix of both is a good idea. Employ trays as makeshift table tops, or a suitable piece of wood. 

3) Be prepared
Behind every laid-back barbecue there’s a deceptively high amount of planning time! Ensure yours goes smoothly with plenty of prep. As soon as you know who is coming, ask all confirmed guests for any dietary requirements and write up your shopping list accordingly. The day before your barbecue, take time to marinate any meat, and prepare salads and accompaniments.

4) Put away breakables
Avoid broken glass and plate mishaps by swapping ‘indoor’ tableware for brightly coloured ‘outdoor’ tableware. There are some super-stylish melamine plates, cups and bowls available. You could opt for a mix of bright colours or choose blue and white or a monochrome set for a pared-back look.

5) Get the drinks ready
If you’re planning to mix up some cocktails, how about using a drinks trolley as a fun and portable bar? You’ll also need plenty of water and soft drinks, some bottles of squash for the kids and perhaps even a fruit punch for the adults. Ice buckets or cool boxes are a great idea for keeping drinks cold and can be left in the shade for easy access.

6) Create a kids’ area
It’s a good idea to give children a designated seating spot of their own. It will keep them safely out of the way of the barbecue and free up seats for the grown-ups. A form of picnic tent / den area is perfect as a shaded location and can be set up easily with a gazebo, cushions, rugs and blankets.

7) Make simple and fun desserts
Give yourself plenty of time to socialise with your guests by not adding extra work. Keep desserts fuss-free and make them ahead of time if you can. Some easy jam tarts like these ones are a good choice, and easy to eat without plates. Alternatively, set up an ice-cream bar, with a selection of flavours and different toppings, for guests to help themselves.

8) Don’t let the rain stop you
At least one of the summer’s barbecues is bound to be accompanied by a downpour. Plan for all eventualities with a temporary gazebo, or go for a fairly simple garden sail like this one. For an even easier solution, you could keep a garden parasol (or two) in the sidelines to bring out when the heavens open.

9) Light up the space
Hopefully your barbecue will go swimmingly and carry on into the evening. Make sure you have plenty of lighting so that you’re not plunged into darkness when the sun goes down. Dot some solar-powered lamps around the flowerbeds to give a glow to your greenery, string up fairy lights and add even more atmosphere with some candles.
Susie Watson Designs

10) Stay warm
If the party does continue when night falls, be ready with plenty of blankets and throws. To add even more warmth, invest in a fire pit. For a cost-effective solution opt for a brazier-style pit, which can be used as both a barbecue (if guests get hungry again) and a heat source!

Via Houzz.co.uk