11 Backyard Barbecue Party Tips to Impress Your Guests without Stress

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As a self-proclaimed grill master, summer is one of my favorite times of the year. It means I get to roll out my grill and use it pretty much every night of the week. But, as much as I enjoy grilling up a few juicy ribeyes for my family, it’s even more fun to invite friends over for a backyard barbecue. Here are 11 of my tried and true backyard barbecue party tips to impress your guests without stress.

backyard barbecue party

How to host a backyard barbecue party with less stress (Photo credit: photographee.eu, Depositphotos.com)

1. Prep food before your guests arrive.

As you’ll discover, most of these backyard barbecue party tips come from mistakes that I’ve made in the past when hosting friends and family. This first tip – prep before your guests arrive – is one that I still fail to do frequently. But, when I do prepare as much as possible beforehand, it makes a world of difference in the enjoyment of the cookout for both my family and our guests.

Make sure all the food is ready to go on the grill when the guests arrive and that any side dishes are assembled, cooked as needed and out on display. You don’t want guests to arrive while you’re still forming burger patties and chopping lettuce and tomatoes.

Prep things like hamburger toppings before your guests arrive (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

Prep things like hamburger toppings before your guests arrive (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

2. Make sure you have enough propane or charcoal.

Can I raise my hand as guilty again? Triple check to make sure you have enough gas in the propane tank or enough charcoal to cook dinner! I’ve made more runs than I’d like to admit to the gas station as my half-cooked burgers sat waiting on a cold grill for me to return with propane. When I finally do return to cook them, the burgers taste lifeless and rubbery.

Always check your propane or charcoal levels before hosting a barbecue (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

Always check your propane or charcoal levels before hosting a backyard barbecue party (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

3. Ask guests to bring side dishes.

This tip especially comes in handy when it comes to large barbecues. And, in our family, the more the merrier. Ask your guests to bring side dishes and desserts. I tend to avoid asking them to bring snacks and appetizers for reasons mentioned later in this article. Don’t feel like asking for side dishes is a burden. People love to show off their prized dish. Besides, you don’t want to be whipping up five pounds of baked beans, ten pounds of potato salad, and four dozen deviled eggs while you’re getting the house and backyard ready.

Ask guest to bring a side dish to share ~ Tips for a Backyard Barbecue Party

Ask guest to bring a side dish to share (Photo credit: belchonock, Depositphotos.com)

4. Put up decorative outside lights.

It will get dark outside. Be ready with tiki torches or other decorative backyard lights. We love our outdoor solar powered string lights! They have an automatic timer so they kick on when the sun drops. That way, we aren’t scrambling to turn on lights. They look so good, that we keep them up all summer long and plan family barbecues with just the three of us.

Decorative lights add to the festivity of a backyard barbecue party

Decorative lights add to the festivity of a backyard barbecue party (Photo credit: ronstik, Depositphotos.com)

5. Serve snacks away from the cooking.

As a frequent dinner party and backyard barbecue party host, nothing annoys me more than people congregating in the kitchen or around the grill – even if most of the work is prepped beforehand. (This cook needs his space!) Thus, we set up a snack table AWAY from the kitchen and grill. We bought a compact folding table to set up that easily stores in our garage when we don’t need it.

Set up a snack table in the dining room or on a picnic table far from the kitchen or grill at our backyard barbecue party

We always set up a snack table in the dining room or on a picnic table far from the kitchen or grill (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

6. Encourage guests to help themselves to both kid-friendly and adult drinks.

As part of the pre-party prep, be sure to stock a cooler with ice, bottled waters, juice boxes and other kid-friendly drinks. Set up another tub filled with beer, wine, and other adult beverages. To spruce up the drink station, use these steel tubs instead of the weathered Igloo cooler. If you want to offer fun summer cocktails, go for it! I suggest pre-mixing them, though, so you’re not constantly measuring, pouring, and stirring.

Offer guests their first beverage, and then encourage them to help themselves after that. That way, you can greet new guests as they arrive and finish any last-minute cooking obligations.

Beverage tubs are much more decorative than dirty, old coolers (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

Beverage tubs are much more decorative than dirty, old coolers (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

7. Set up some yard games to keep the kids occupied.

It’s summer and the kids are restless to get outside and play. Arrange any outdoor games like cornhole, horseshoes, or Twister before the party starts. This way, the kids can go straight to playing and the adults can begin their drinking…ahem…socializing.

Set up yard games for kids to play at your backyard barbecue party

Set up yard games for kids to play (Photo from Amazon – click the photo to buy this all-American corhnole game)

8. Mix up your grilling game.

Don’t bore your guests with plain old hamburgers and hotdogs. Chances are, they went to a barbecue last night and ate the same thing. Mix it up with fun and adventurous burger toppings or outfit your backyard with a Traeger electric smoker and smoke some pork or brisket!

Mix it up by adding a Traeger to your backyard barbecue game (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

Mix it up by adding a Traeger to your backyard barbecue game (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

9. Skip the dessert and make s’mores.

Nothing says summertime more than s’mores made over an open fire. The best part is you don’t have to cook them. All you need are some marshmallows, chocolate bars, graham crackers, and marshmallow sticks. You don’t need to build an elaborate fire pit to have a backyard fire either. There are plenty of steel fire pits available for any size or budget.

S'mores make a fun and tasty way to top off a backyard barbecue party

S’mores make a fun and tasty way to top off a backyard barbecue party (Photo credit: bhofack2)

10. Put safety first.

Lastly, always remember to put safety first. Burgers, sausages, and even bone in chicken quarters and breasts have a lot of fat that can cause flare ups. Flame broiled doesn’t mean opening your grill to find everything in flames. Make sure you have a spray bottle at the ready for small flare ups and a fire extinguisher just in case. Yes, I’ve used mine.

The result of a good backyard barbecue - happy guests and hosts (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

The result of a good backyard barbecue – happy (and safe!) guests (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

11. Have fun!

You are now well equipped for the ultimate backyard barbecue party. Just remember the most important tip – have fun. That’s the point of hosting a barbecue. When the host is relaxed and having fun, so will your guests. Besides, you deserve it!

Don't forget to have fun when hosting a backyard barbecue party

The grill master deserves to have fun, especially at his own backyard barbecue party (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

Save these BBQ party tips

Considering hosting a backyard barbecue party? Be sure to save these tips. Simply pin the image below to Pinterest. We hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

11 Tips for Hosting a Backyard Barbecue that Impresses Guests without Stress

If you liked this story, then I bet you’ll love my tips for visiting a brewery with kids!

What barbecue party tips can you add to this list? Do you have any questions about upping your barbecue game? Let us know in the comments below.

About Bryan Richards, The Hungry Travel Daddy

Bryan M. Richards began his blog, TheWanderingGourmand.com, to document his culinary adventures with his wife around the world (and around the kitchen). During the first eight years of their marriage, they followed their taste buds across five continents, 20 countries, and 71 cities and drank plenty of beer along the way. Then Deacon was born, and they’re learning how to incorporate their son into their culinary adventures. Currently, Bryan balances his role as stay-at-home dad to his young son with his novel writing and freelance gigs covering craft beer, food, and travel. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Follow his adventures on Facebook and Instagram as @BRichWrites.

  1. Ellen Lanin says

    I think you covered everything!

  2. All the tips are awesome but I liked the decoration point the most. It gives the complete feel of party.

  3. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    Asking guests to bring side dishes is a great idea. We love to do that. We turn our backyard barbecues into pot lucks!

  4. I LOVE have a BBQ parties! We try to do a few a year! I love the idea of making S’mores! That is genius!

  5. Gingermommy says

    These are great tips for BBQ parties. In fact, I love the idea of making S’mores. It really is a blast to have a great BBQ party.

  6. Nancy at Whispered Inspirations says

    There really is nothing better than a good old BBQ party. They are really a great way to connect with friends and have fun eating great good. I love the idea of getting the guests to bring the side dishes!

  7. These are great reminders. I think we’ll be having plenty of tailgates and barbecues this fall! There are so many fun ways to change it up each time.

  8. Desiree Lopez says

    Your BBQ’s sound like a lot of fun! I’m anything but a grill master however grilling simple foods like burgers and hot dogs is something I seem to manage okay. I like the idea of asking guests to bring a side dish. That cuts down on the stress of preparation.

  9. Dawn Lopez says

    You seem to throw some epic Barbecues! I like so many of the tips you have here but the one thing I know we’ll try next time is making S’mores for dessert. I never thought about that before.

  10. Brilliant tips that can transfer for the most part to any party. The most important one being have fun. Often time we forget that in trying to throw the “perfect” party.

  11. Elizabeth Lampman says

    We love to have BBQ’s with our friends. We always do a potluck style dinner. It is a great idea to do as much prep as you can the night before.

  12. Claudia Krusch says

    BBQ season is my favorite time of the year. I like to do as much as I can before hand so I can spend more time with my guests.

  13. These are all great tips. I love having backyard bbq’s. They’re so much fun when you have everyone get together.

  14. Amy Desrosiers says

    Having guests bring sides is a huge help to any backyard barbecue. I used to be embarrassed to ask, but not anymore!

  15. We haven’t made any Labor Day plans yet. Normally the last minute BBQ would stress me out, but you make it all sound so easy!

  16. Love the tips, specially the ones leading towards having fun! Sometimes less prep, less stress makes for the best times!

  17. These are all great tips. There’s nothing worse than running out of propane in the middle of grilling.

  18. I’m glad that you talked about how important it is to prepare the food and have it ready to go on the grill before all our relatives arrived. It is my husband’s 45th birthday this weekend and I would like to celebrate it with our close family members. I’ll be sure to prepare everything and buy BBQ meat rubs in advance so we can all enjoy this fun event in our own backyard.

  19. I really liked the tips they were amazing especially asking guests to bring side dishes and snacks part so they don’t bother the cook also serves another important purpose it keeps the guests away from eating out from the pot as its being cooked.

  20. Adventure HQ says

    great BBQ tips, thanks for sharing

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