8 Backyard BBQ Ideas to Take Your Party to the Next Level
Barbeques are synonymous with a good time. Though simple in concept, preparation is necessary when hosting. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you prepare a fun, memorable, and low-stress backyard barbecue. Before you send out BBQ invites, be sure you have not only the space and the supplies but also your party hat on!
Why Everyone Loves a BBQ Party
Hosting a barbeque party is fun for folks of all backgrounds. From the Southern comfort of tomato-based, to the tang of vinegar, to the subtle heat of mustard, every region has a slightly different flair to their barbeque.
A backyard barbecue is an opportunity to bring family, coworkers, friends, neighbors, or any group together over some good food. It’s a chance to enjoy the outdoors in a laid-back setting and an event that’s easy to clean up. Make a mess? No worries: a squirrel somewhere thanks you.
Barbeques are great for football season or a summer evening, and a bbq birthday is a crowd-pleaser for any age. Bring the kids, the pets, and the grandparents. If you’re lucky enough to attend without hosting responsibilities, the bbq ideas for partygoers below will let you know what to expect and how to contribute.
But first, here is a backyard BBQ checklist for hosts:
The BBQ Party Checklist
Whether you are hosting a potluck, getting some catered help, or doing it all yourself, here are the essential supplies, equipment, and foods for your BBQ:
- Grill(s), and perhaps a side burner.
- Picnic table, or separate table and enough chairs for everyone.
- Alternatively: a picnic blanket.
- Utensils, napkins, cups, plates, and bowls.
- Serving spoons and tongs.
- A cooler full of cold beverages.
- Appetizers or snacks, such as chips, potato salad, or fruit salad.
- Dishes, bowls, or aluminum containers for buffet-style dining.
- Your bbq party food list should include: the main course (presumably barbequed meat), sauces and seasonings, side dishes, dessert, and beverages (both kid-friendly and alcoholic).
- A fold-up buffet table to serve the food.
- Bonus: Even if there is enough outdoor counter space to serve the food, a fold-up table encourages guests to congregate away from the heat and smoke of the grills.
- If needed: sunscreen and bug repellent candles.
- Unless you want ants, wasps, and mosquitos, ensure your yard is sprayed for insects beforehand.
8 Fun Backyard BBQ Ideas
Here are eight bbq party ideas that are fun for you and your guests:
1. Celebrate a Milestone with Fun Drinks and Desserts
A barbeque can celebrate milestones like a graduation, baby shower, engagement party, or birthday. Fill piñatas with candy for kids in attendance or with themed goodies that relate to your adult milestone.
When it comes to BBQ birthday party ideas for adults, you should have plenty of ice-cold beer or cocktails. Of course, always have nonalcoholic beverage options, even at all-adult gatherings. Make refreshing lavender lemonade by mixing lavender syrup with regular lemonade.
Don’t forget dessert! Hot weather calls for ice pops or ice cream, but keep it in the freezer until the last minute so it won’t melt. If you have a neighborhood ice cream truck, even better: schedule your party when you know its route will coincide with your party. Otherwise, cookies and brownies are easy-to-eat finger food for any celebration.
2. Gather Around the Firepit
Keep the party going after the sun goes down with a firepit! Use it for light, warmth, roasting hot dogs, and melting s’mores. Gather around it with individual chairs or even logs for a rustic barbeque atmosphere. Whip out the guitar, banjo, or ukulele for an impromptu singalong. Once completely dark, light sparklers or gaze at the stars. Show a scary movie on a projector as you stay cozy with blankets and a warm beverage.
3. Vegan or Vegetarian Barbeque
Yes: meatless and eco-friendly barbeques are both possible and super fun. Show off your best plant-based recipes while using reusable dishware. Plastic-free supplies include glass cups, stainless steel utensils, cloth napkins, and compostable takeaway containers to share leftovers. Regarding drinks, water with cucumber, local beer, limeade – whatever suits your fancy. Guests will love homegrown strawberries, tomatoes, and herbs if you have a garden.
You could even combine this sustainable barbeque with a seed swap or vegan recipe swap.
4. Tailgate Extravaganza
A tailgate-style barbeque has sliders, cupcakes frosted in the team colors, napkins decorated with the team logo, and of course, an outdoor TV with the game on. Whether it’s the pros, college, or the hometown team, a barbeque is a perfect way to cheer on athletes – win or lose. Set up cornhole and other backyard games. Have sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and jump ropes available for the kids to let off some steam.
5. Neighborhood Potluck
When it comes to successful bbq party ideas, food sign-up sheets are necessary for big neighborhood potlucks. You don’t wind up with five trays of baked beans and no main dish! Online signup means you have a headcount and help, and you won’t accidentally make the wrong amount of food for the guests.
The host will typically provide the grills and the primary meat. (But if you’re holding the barbeque in a public setting, like a park or a pool, you might not have that responsibility.) Provide activities for kids, like sprinklers or a water balloon toss. Perhaps encourage neighbors to bring traditional family recipes; you just might get introduced to some new cultural favorites.
A potluck is a win-win: it shares the work involved in cooking and treats everyone to new recipes (which you can swap). It’s a chance to get out of your stale dinner routine and get to know your neighbors. You don’t need a reason to throw a neighborhood barbeque potluck. Even if you don’t live in a traditional neighborhood, people always want excuses to get together.
6. Red, White, and Blue Holiday
Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are prime backyard barbeque occasions. Get with the spirit and hang flags, twinkle lights, and loads of red, white, and blue décor. Go traditional with burgers, corn on the cob, and hot dogs, or mix it up with a dish you’ve never tried before. Make the most of the long weekends in warm weather!
7. Back to School Send-Off
Throw a back-to-school send-off barbeque to reunite the kids after a summer apart. Have a photo frame prop with the year noted so that attendees will have a memento of their kiddo as they begin a new school year. Or host a back-to-school barbecue, especially for teachers. A back-to-school barbeque is a great way to kick off the new school year, from Pre-K to Ph.D.
As apples will be in season in September in most places in the U.S., why not have an apple theme? Applewood smoked meat, apple pie, apple cider, and apples dipped in caramel… the possibilities are endless.
If you know multiple barbeque masters with a competitive spirit, have a backyard cook-off! Attendees will love judging the best homemade barbeque sauce or barbequed meat. The winner can get bragging rights or a gift card to the local gourmet foods store. All cooks must wear chef hats, of course!
Or, if the competition element isn’t your style, you can skip the contest and just have multiple cooks at work. Having numerous cooks in the kitchen isn’t necessarily a bad idea when you’re outside; it’s fun and manageable and means more food for everyone.
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Grillscapes has all the smokers, patio furniture, grills large and small, firepits, and more to help make your backyard bbq ideas a reality. Whether you’re looking for compact or sprawling patio setups or electric or gas grills, like one of our premium stainless steel Lynx Grills, let us help you bring your dream outdoor kitchen to life.