After a few soft openings in April, the grand opening and official start to BBQ season came on Memorial Day. A glorious peak came in the form of Independence Day, the World Series of BBQ holidays. Now, summer is coming to an end: the kids are going back to school, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are slowly beginning to drop. It was a good run. Stop for a moment and say a few words for the end of a glorious, wonderful BBQing season—then go out with a bang and host a killer party. Use these end-of-summer BBQ ideas to have your guests talking about your party at Thanksgiving dinner.
Try Something Different
It goes without saying that the grill will be cooking up exquisite fare all day. Fire and coals will be at the ready to deliver the heat. Your heat-resistant gloves for cooking won’t have a break all day as you constantly flip, turn, and check meat for doneness. If you’re more of a traditionalist and aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, embrace it. It’s okay to stick to basics such as burgers, hot dogs, and chicken legs. Going next-level, though, will make your party legendary. Some small touches here and there will make all the difference. Start by grilling the bread. Grill your hot dog and hamburger buns. Slice a loaf of French bread and grill it for a light bruschetta, or spread on some butter and garlic for garlic bread.
When cooking meat, instead of grilling your standard boneless chicken breasts, chop them into chunks and make shish kebabs with some onion, green pepper, and tomato. These are fun for everyone to eat, and kids will love pulling the food off the skewers and eating with their hands. When it comes time for dessert, cut the rind off a pineapple and cook it on the grill rotisserie-style or in slices. The sweet and savory combination is so great—the dessert won’t last long.
Keep the Bugs Away
Nothing can ruin a great party like uninvited guests. Everyone is eating, laughing, and having a good time—and then some jerk is buzzing in your ear and distracting you from the party. If you have a preferred pest control service, have them come out a couple days prior to the party and spray for bugs. Doing this ahead of time will give the spray time to take effect, and any lingering smell will have time to dissipate. For the day of the party, spread some citronella candles around the main area in which people will be gathering. The classic blue-light bug zappers are also still effective at pest control. If you want something more stylish, invest in some tiki torches. Get enough of them to set up a perimeter defense around your party space. They look much better than the alternatives and will keep the bugs away.
Play Some Tunes
Picking out the best soundtrack for a party depends on a lot of factors. If you were planning a rave, then you would obviously pick music suitable for that kind of scene. An end-of-summer party is no different. The music should set the tone and mood of that day. The perfect music is entirely up to you; just think about what you and your guests are into. Chances are that your friends have similar taste in music, so creating a playlist shouldn’t be too difficult. If there are going to be kids around, keep that in mind. Parents might not want their kids listening to music filled with profanity and suggestive lyrics.
You could also find a playlist from Pandora or Spotify and let the Internet choose the music for you. That way, you can tend to your guests instead of playing DJ all afternoon. Most streaming services have playlists loaded and ready to go for all occasions and for every musical style: someone out there is bound to like the same music as you and has already made a playlist, so go find it and have a good time.
Play Some Games
Sitting around the table and talking, drinking, and eating is fun, but it can run its course after a while. You should take every chance you can get to enjoy some outdoor activities while it’s still nice enough to play outside. Give your guests some fun games to play so that they can work off some of the calories from lunch. Bags, cornhole, or bean bag toss—whatever you call it—has become wildly popular over the years. You can even play it with one hand, so you won’t have to set down your beer or hot dog while playing. Each player gets four bean bags and takes turns throwing them at a large board with a hole cut in it. Landing the bag on the board is worth one point, and a bag in the hole earns three points. Points cancel each other out, so if both players put one in the hole, nobody gets any points.
Beersbee has several names, too, but the gameplay is the same. Teams of two take turns trying to knock a bottle off a perch with a frisbee. The opposing team tries to catch the frisbee and the bottle before they hit the ground. It’s harder than it looks. For a lot of people, simply throwing the frisbee in a straight line is challenging enough. Don’t rule out classic games such as horseshoes, croquet, and bocce ball, too.
Transition into Night
As day turns into night, be ready with some comforts. If you have the space, a campfire will be perfect for keeping warm as the temperature drops and for roasting marshmallows for s’mores. The kids in attendance will have a blast, and the big kids will, too. The fire will help keep mosquitos away, too. Have some sparklers on hand for the kids to run around with while the adults circle the fire. Watching a movie outside is also always a treat. Set up a TV or a projector and snuggle up with some popcorn and a blanket. Put on a pot of coffee and make some cocoa for the kids to sip on while they watch the movie.