Perfecting the Summer Barbecue

We may not be blessed with the warmest, or sunniest climate here in the UK, but despite what the naysayers claim, we can enjoy some beautiful sunny days during the summer months. And with the sunshine inevitably comes a barbecue in the back garden (though try not to plan too far ahead as at least in my household any plans that rely on good weather are jinxed the moment the date has been set!) Here are some tips on hosting a successful, and thoroughly enjoyable family barbecue.

Prepare for any mid-barbecue weather changes
Weather changes during a barbecue are no fun if you are not prepared. Have some overhead protection ready for any sudden downpours, or perhaps to provide shade from the sun if someone just needs a little sun break. I’d avoid using an old parasol stuck into the lawn with the risk of it flying across the garden at a sudden gust of wind and striking an unsuspecting guest (yes, unfortunately I have witnessed this happen.
Instead, consider a couple of modern garden umbrellas, like those by Unopiu, which are the perfect alternative. Not only are they made of high quality fabrics, but also they generally look much more fancy and chic than an unsteady beach parasol.

Plan and label your meals
Planning your meals ahead of time will take off any stress for a barbecue. If you are preparing the food yourself, ask your invitees some food preferences, especially if there are any picky eaters or allergies, and then go from there. Get creative! Think outside the hamburger and hot dog classics and cook up your favourites. A potluck style is also a great option. Plan a variety of foods, from burgers, salads and fruits to drinks, snacks and desserts. You can find an endless amount of great barbecue dishes with a little online research.

Label what’s hot-off-the grill
Rare, medium-rare, well-done… be sure to ask the question before starting up the barbecue! Once the food comes off the grill, have labels so everyone can have their pick. Plus, you can use cute labels such as decorated lolly sticks to add a little decorative flare to your day. 

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Photo Credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5599/15480838329_a7767e97f8_b.jpg
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Use mason jars (for everything)
Mason jars are extremely popular right now, for good reason. You can use them to separate single servings of salad dressings, or simply just to keep any little bugs away. They can also be used as glasses to drink some barbecue punch, or even with tea lights as the sun begins to set and the party continues. They also add a sweet aesthetic to your barbecue.

Simple entertainment with lawn games
No matter how many people you have at your barbecue, nothing beats garden games. For the early arrivals and the kiddos that just need something to run around and do, they come in especially handy. The best part- simple clean up. You can stack Frisbees and badminton rackets together, set up a croquet set, or simply just have a couple footballs lying around. Want to get even more creative? You can DIY a couple games, such as over-sized Scrabble or Jenga. Just be sure you have enough space for a safe barbecue and a flying football as the two do not make the best combination.

Add some extra freshness with fresh flowers
Having fresh flowers really just brightens any day. You can use them simply as centrepieces or put them in small pots to clip onto the picnic table to hold it down. Remember the mason jar trick? They also make perfect casual flower vases.

Hang lights wherever you want and wherever you can
Having lights twinkling around sets a fun, relaxed and celebratory mood. You can use Christmas lights or simple string lights to dangle across outdoor space. They hang perfectly across a porch post or railing, or you can even DIY a post with rock-filled buckets and bamboo polls to dangle the lights across.

While the classic and simple summer barbecue is always a winner, adding a couple fun elements can really spice it up. Remember though, even if weather or food doesn’t turn out quite the way you hope, just enjoy the outdoors and relax! 

Guest Post by Mary D

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