Updated: Dec 29, 2022
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, I don’t mean holiday time. I mean summer! The season of outdoor parties and what seems like endless barbecues. And if you plan on hosting one (or more) this season, I’m here to show you how a little BBQ organization will help you out.
While hosting a barbecue might seem simple enough, it actually requires a bit of planning. And those plans can make having one go a whole lot smoother. The best part? Once you plan one barbecue, you’ll be in a better position to host more.
So let’s see why a little BBQ organization can go a long way
#1 — Pick a date and a rain date
One of the first things you want to do to get your BBQ organization underway is to pick a date. Then pick a rain date.
Sit down with your calendar and look ahead. Don’t pick a date that’s so close that you give yourself no time to prepare. Pick a date that’s at least three to four weeks away. Then, if possible, choose the following weekend as your rain date.
Summer weather can be pretty unpredictable. Humid days can spark sporadic thunderstorms. And so you want to ensure you have a backup plan.
Once you have the dates set, send out your invites. Don’t think you need to go super fancy unless it’s a graduation party or something like that. A generic email or text invite will suffice. Simply let friends and family know the date and the rain date.
#2 — Figure out your menu
While you wait for RSVPs to trickle in, start planning your menu. This part of BBQ organization is often overlooked and done a few days before. But if you want to reduce stress, planning your menu weeks in advance will help.
Consider the essentials like hot dogs, hamburgers, and buns. Write down how many you might need. Then think about other dishes. You could make chicken, sausage and peppers… and how about salads? How many appetizers do you want?
Don’t go overboard. Too long of a menu and you run the risk of being left with too many leftovers. Instead, limit your menu to six to seven options. And certainly no more than ten.
This is a good time to think about your guest list. Does anyone have any allergies or special dietary needs? Any vegetarians in the group? Try and offer at least one or two options for those who may not eat the usual barbecue food.
#3 — Budget and buy supplies
People who host barbecues don’t realize how expensive everything can be. That’s why making your menu is a key first step. Why? Because you’re then able to budget and figure out how much everything will cost.
BBQ organization requires a little financial planning as well. Once you write down everything you need, consider your budget. Is there anything you can ask other people to bring? Can your mother-in-law make a salad or two? Could you ask people to bring desserts? A little delegation never hurt anyone.
If you do plan on asking people to bring certain items, let them know as soon as possible. Keep track of who's bringing what. This way if someone can’t make it, you know what you need to replace.
Then go out and buy your supplies! You may want to save certain foods for later, but buy what you know will last. Condiments, decorations, plates, and drinks are some common things you can buy early.
Make sure you plan when you’re going to buy the food. Mark it down on your calendar!
#4 — Prep as much as you can
Once you have all your supplies, prep as much as you can. This can include salads or desserts you plan to make. For this kind of stuff, prep it two or three days before and store it in your fridge. If you’re low on space, plan to make it the day before.
Another option during this step is to figure out where everything is going to go. If you’ve hosted barbecues before, you might have a setup already created. But if this is your first one, take some time and draw a map of where you want tables to go.
Literally, draw a map. Decide where food will go, drinks, a play area for kids, and more. When you have a physical map in hand it will make set-up a breeze.
The day before the barbecue, get all the supplies together in one spot. If you have to mound your dining room table, do it. Put all the dishes, utensils, napkins, and decorations side by side. This way when you begin setting up you won’t have to hunt things down. It will all be right there, ready to grab when needed.
BBQ organization is all about preparation. The more you can prep ahead of time, the better position you’ll be in on the day of!
#5 — Make it a BYOB
I mentioned before that barbecues require some financial planning. With inflation, common supplies are more expensive. But you don’t have to front the bill for everything. If you plan on providing all the food —- from the salads to the desserts —- ask guests to bring their own beer.
Alcohol is expensive enough. And while you may have some extra stored in your house, everyone has their own preference. For you to buy eight different types of beer is not necessary. If guests have specific tastes, encourage them to bring their own.
You’ll be surprised how many people do this naturally. Most of us were raised to never show up empty-handed and most will bring beer as it’s the easiest. And they’ll usually bring one they enjoy.
So don’t be afraid to add a little BYOB to your invite. Not only will it save you money, but it will also save you from buying beer no one likes.
#6 — Get any last-minute details sorted
You have your map of where everything is going to go. You prepped everything you could. The party is in two days. If you think now is the time to relax, I’m sorry to say it’s not. The final days before the barbecue are when you should get any last-minute details sorted.
This can include getting any supplies left on your list. These supplies tend to be ones you borrow like tables or chairs. Coordinate with friends or family members you’re borrowing them from. Plan to get them a day or two before the party.
Don’t save this for the day of! You’ll be focused on setting everything up so take the time to get the borrowed supplies. This way you know they’re there and ready to go.
#7 — Set up early and enjoy
The day of the barbecue is here and you’re ready! But there’s one more thing to do: set everything up.
If you told people to arrive at 2:00 pm, don’t wait until 1:00 pm to start setting up. Plan to do so early. Get the tables in their designated areas. Pop up any tents and get chairs sorted. You don’t have to bring out any food or supplies yet. Just focus on getting things in their designated areas.
Depending on the weather, this can be a laborious activity so leave yourself time to freshen up. Then an hour or two beforehand, start bringing out plates, utensils, decorations, and drinks. You can bring out some food so long as it’s something that won’t spoil, however, it's best to leave this inside until guests arrive.
So on the day of the barbecue, schedule to wake up early and get things set up. This way you know it’s done, it’s ready to go, and you can then focus on the most important part of all: enjoying the day!
BBQ organization doesn’t have to be complicated. You might be a Pro hoster, but you still need a little organization. It goes a long way toward making sure you have everything you need. This way once things get underway, all you need to do is to make sure the food is out and that guests are having a good time.
So the next time you plan on hosting a barbecue, give these steps a try and see how they work out for you. Then share them with friends and family to help ease the stress of them planning the next one.
Looking for some more summer tips? Check out my other blog posts about summer and ways you can make it the best season ever.
Now I’d love to know what your favorite thing about summer is. Comment below and share what you love most about the season. Is it barbecues, pool parties, vacations…? Let me know.