If there's one thing I know how to do well, its how to throw a great summer BBQ party. Whether its a party for two with me and my hubby or if we've got our family and friends over, its always sure to be a great night.
Today I'm going to share with you my top 5 tips for throwing the best bbq party this summer.
The most important thing to take care of first is the food. This ultimately depends on how many people you're having over.
1. Think ahead when buying meat!
If you know you're going to be having a BBQ tomorrow, buy your meat today. Don't leave it to chance. I like to recommend shopping local and supporting local butchers but most aren't open on a Sunday and if you end up needing to go to a supermarket, if its a hot day, the chances are the rest of your town will also be there stocking up on their sausages for a BBQ of their own.
If its a small get together or you don't have a lot of time, then I'd suggest heading to Marks and Spencer, purely for ease. Their BBQ meat is absolutely fantastic and we buy it so often during the summer months. They're usually on 3 for £10 and you can get everything from steak and venison burgers to shish kebabs, salmon and beef brisket. They have cheese toppers for the burgers, dedicated bread to suit the meat you're cooking and lots of sauces and accompaniments. If you're cooking for a small number of people, opting for this range can save you so much time because its already marinated, you just need to cook it however for a more cost effective option, I'd suggest visiting your local butcher which is what we like to do where possible.
|Image belongs to Stirks Butchers. You can find it here.|
So many butchers these days are doing meat packs, especially for BBQs. If you're from the North East, then I'd really recommend Stirks Butchers in Sunderland as they do a fantastic BBQ meat pack where you get 46 items for only £20. This great value pack includes beef burgers, chicken steaks (marinated and plain), sausages (speciality- get the Irn Bru if you can and plain), pork steaks and beef steaks. You can cook the meat as it is or marinate first but either way, you're guaranteed incredible quality and a great taste, especially if you buy from Stirks.
We've been shopping there for well over a year now, including for our Christmas Turkey, and have always been impressed with the quality of the meat, especially for such a reasonable cost. Even if you're not doing a BBQ for a lot of people, you could always opt for a meat pack, cook what you need and freeze what you don't. The sausages are lovely in a casserole and I love making a curry with the plump chicken breasts!
You can keep up to date with Stirks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out about their latest offers and great value meat packs.
2. Prep in advance
When you're having a BBQ, the best thing to do is to get everything prepared before your guests arrive. That includes the bits that you think will be quick and easy to do like slicing burger buns, chopping veg etc. Get it all prepped and in serving dishes with cling film or tin foil over the top so that its ready to go once the coals are hot and the meat is on the barbie. You've invited your guests over to spend time with them, not to spend all of your time stick in the kitchen!
3. Make sharing drinks for your guests
Summer BBQs are the perfect opportunity to put your cocktail making skills to the test. For those who drink alcohol, make a big bowl of punch or a cocktail (I find that Sex On The Beach tends to go down a treat) and fill with ice and chopped up fruit (or tinned if you're pushed for time!) or even just mix Passoa with Lemonade in a huge jug for a sweet drink that doesn't taste like you're drinking alcohol. Again, you can buy these pre mixed if you prefer; I reviewed the cocktail mix above in this post. Either way, sharing drinks are great as your guests can simply serve themselves.
For those who don't drink alcohol for whatever reason, infused waters are a great way to go. You can google lots of different combinations but essentially you're combining chopped fruit with water in a jug. I make a citrus water with orange and lemon sliced with still water and ice and I also love making a one with sparkling water with chopped up strawberries, mint leaves and plenty of ice in it too. These also look so pretty and Instagramable!
Another great idea is to fill a huge bucket (or childrens toy bin, etc) with ice and slot bottles of beer and cans of pop in it to chill and then your guests can help themselves. This is a good idea for if those who you're inviting are likely to bring a bottle to contribute.
4. Have plenty of distractions on hand
While the meat is cooking, distract your guests with your witty banter by having plenty of conversation topics up your sleeve. People tend to love talking about themselves so asking them plenty of questions and engaging in conversation should help them to feel at ease and take their mind off waiting for the main event; the food!
Garden games are so handy too whether they're for the kids or adults. These can be bought cheaply from supermarkets and shops like Argos. Working up an appetite with a swing ball or garden croquet can provide lots of laughs while the food is cooking.
Another way to distract your guests while the meat is on the barbecue is to provide lots of snacks and nibbles. My favourite are crudités and dips.
5. Save on the washing up
My last tip for throwing a summer BBQ party is to save on washing up by using disposable catering supplies. Lets face it, there are very few people in this world who enjoy washing up. There are even less who enjoy washing up after having lots of people over for a BBQ. Its all well having a dishwasher but even that requires plates to be rinsed before hand and it'll only hold so much.
Save all of that by purchasing cutlery, plates, cups and serving dishes, etc that you can simply chuck out when you're finished with them. This way, you're not having to worry about your glasses getting broken, plates getting smashed, someone stepping on a shard or having to clean it up. Disposable catering supplies are quick, easy and hassle free.
Now that you know my top tips on how to throw a summer BBQ party, I'd love to know yours! Let me know in the comments!