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Festive BBQ parties are among the great joys of summer. So how can you host a winner? Planning ahead is key, so on party day, you’re simply assembling the components─and grilling of course! These tips can help ensure a smashing success:
Set the stage
While BBQ parties are typically casual, you’ll still want to spruce up your garden, then sort out comfortable seating for your guests─away from the grill. Scatter card tables around so friends can mingle, with enough chairs for everyone. Small, potted herbs or flowers make nice centerpieces, and Citronella candles help keep bugs at bay.
Setting up designated areas for food and beverages will help things flow smoothly. Simply arrange a table or countertop with glasses and pitchers of drinks, an ice bucket, cocktail fixings, a punch bowl, etc., and another area for plates, cutlery, condiments, and food. Guests will enjoy serving themselves, and gathering as they like for casual dining.
Get creative with beverages
Summer evenings call for alcohol-free quenchers as well as adult libations. Instead of sodas, why not set up pitchers of water, lemonade, iced tea, and sparkling juice? Along with cold beer, adults may enjoy Mango-Peach Sangria, Pomegranate Daiquiris, Berry Mojitos, Orange-Ginger Margaritas, or Island Limeade, among other fun cocktails found here: www.delish.com
Prepare an array of entrées
The key to a lavish BBQ spread is variety. Mix it up with turkey burgers, chicken breasts, scallop kabobs, soy hot dogs, black bean burgers, and/or jumbo Portobello mushrooms. This array will please carnivores, kids, and vegetarians alike! Just be sure the Q-Master is aware of varying cooking times, so no one item is overdone.
Marinate in advance
Overnight marinating makes for very tasty food! How do Spiced-Yogurt, Mediterranean, Pomegranate, or Lemon-Rosemary Marinades sound? Find these and more here: www.delish.com As for BBQ sauce, think outside the bottle with Sweet, Spicy, Sticky BBQ Sauce, Island BBQ Sauce, Slam Dunk Sauce, or Trail Blazer Barbecue Sauce, among other fun options: allrecipes.com
Have fun with sides
Expand beyond potato salad with innovative sides like Cucumber-Jicama Slaw, Tomato, Corn, and Avocado Salad, Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Scallions, Two-Bean Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Bacon, Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream-Dill Dressing, Minestrone Salad, Israeli Couscous with Mint and Lemon, or Grilled Garden Salad. Find these and more here: www.marthastewart.com
After a substantial meal, light, refreshing desserts are ideal. Offer vanilla ice cream and let guests top it with ripe berries, nuts, chocolate sauce, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, or even coffee for a frosty latté. Or consider fresh fruit tarts and sorbet. You could also emulate the French with a fruit, cheese, and nut platter.
Ideally, these tips will help you host your perfect summer BBQ. The recipe is a cup of stress-free planning, a tablespoon of creativity, a mixing bowl of amigos, and a lavish portion of fun!