How to host a BBQ in your garden
Does anything say British summertime more than a barbecue? The sights, the smells — the food. And, of course, the chance to gather loved ones together and enjoy all these things in the comfort of your own garden. Now that we can socialise outside a little more freely (though restrictions still apply), a barbecue is the perfect way to catch up with friends and family.
Create a BBQ menu
When it comes to hosting a barbecue, food is a central part of the whole affair! And whether you keep it simple with burgers and buns or get a bit more experimental, creating a BBQ menu can be a fun part of the prep and keep all your hungry guests happy.
Perhaps you fancy a traditional menu, with burgers and sausages to serve with bread rolls, ketchup and mustard.
Feeling creative? You could always come up with a themed menu. Perhaps a ‘beachside’ theme with tropical or surf ‘n’ turf dishes — think seafood and steak skewers followed by grilled fruit for dessert.
Alternatively, how about a Mexican fiesta barbecue? Alongside spicy ribs, bean burgers, and grilled veggies for burritos, you could serve tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole.
If you’ve got vegetarian or vegan guests or those with food allergies, it can be a good idea to set up multiple separate grills to avoid cross-contamination.
Whatever kind of menu you decide on, it’s always helpful to prepare food ahead. Rustle up any salads and sauces the night before, so you have them ready to go when guests arrive. Marinades are a great way to add flavour to your food, so why not soak your meat or alternatives overnight to take your BBQ game to the next level?
Drink-wise, you could make up a big batch of summer punch (alcoholic or soft) to serve in large kilner jars. Store it in the fridge then add ice and garnishes on the day of your party.
It’s a good idea also to have a variety of dishes your guests can help themselves to alongside the grilled offerings. For example, you could set up a buffet table filled with nibbles to keep people going while the big stuff cooks! And remember, you can always ask your guests to each bring a side dish or drink.
Think about your space
Throwing a barbecue can be a great excuse to tidy the garden and give everything a good spruce! You can get the lawnmower out, clear any clutter, and decide where you want to set up your grill and food station.
Depending on how many people you have joining you and the size of your garden, the way you set out the space will vary. Would you like a large central table for everyone to sit at or multiple smaller areas for pairs and small groups?
And what if it rains? Let’s face it, the British summertime isn’t always totally reliable! Having a contingency plan for less-than-scorching temperatures can help your garden BBQ run smoothly. You might want to set up an awning or canopy for guests to sit under if the weather turns. On the other hand, a canopy or parasol can also provide shade if the sun gets too intense.
As COVID restrictions relax, you may also be able to shelter your friends in your conservatory or orangery. With plenty of big windows to let natural light in, these glass structures are a great way to bring your house and garden together.
Getting ideal garden furniture
Alongside investing in an awning to keep your guests dry, making sure you have suitable garden furniture will keep everyone comfortable.
Choose chairs and tables that will stay stable if you’re setting them out on grass or uneven paving. If you don’t want to risk damaging indoor seating, you could invest in designated outdoor furniture. You could go for bistro seating and tables, outdoor sofa sets or larger outside dining tables.
It can also be a nice idea to set out picnic blankets and cushions for a more relaxed event, especially if you have children attending.
Remember your decorations
Make your garden BBQ extra special with decorations. If you’re going for a themed event, then you can decorate around this. Otherwise, bunting or streamers can add a nice touch to any outdoor event. If you feel crafty (or want to get the kids involved), why not make some paper lanterns or stick homemade decorations on your windows or conservatory so guests can see from outside?
Lighting can make all the difference, too. Not only is it practical for when the sun sets, but it can also add a cosy and magical atmosphere. Solar lights and tiki lamps are lovely to stick out in the grass. You could also add outdoor fairy lights to your trees and fences or place them in your windows to create a beautiful glowing reflection.
It might not be the most glamorous thing to think about, but ensuring there are bins dotted around your garden can keep everything clean and tidy throughout the event! Setting out general waste and recycling points will give you one less thing to think about during the cleanup.
And what about entertainment? Perhaps you could set out garden games for your guests. Boules, giant snakes and ladders, or a homemade coconut shy can keep both kids and grown-ups occupied between burgers!
Background music can change the ambience of your barbecue. Setting up some speakers and a chilled but upbeat playlist can really add to the atmosphere. Just make sure the volume isn’t too quiet or loud!
As well as flames on the barbecue grill, a fire pit makes a wonderful central point for when it gets dark and the temperature drops. Consider setting up a cosy area where your friends can warm up or even toast marshmallows.
As well as entertaining guests, it’s important to put on a party that you’ll enjoy. Try not to get too bogged down with getting things ‘right’, and just have fun! Barbecues are generally more relaxed events, but if you fancy hosting a gathering with a bit more of a formal vibe, why not read our guide on throwing a garden party?