When planning a BBQ party for more than just a few people there can be lots of stress involved. You don’t want to build up your guests’ expectations to then greet them with a few charred sausages and warm lemonade. To help out we’ve come up with some top tips for hosting a great BBQ party!
BBQ Party Plan
If you want to go beyond the basics your concept is the very first thing to consider when you are preparing your big BBQ Party. It is what your guests will first hear about, what will dictate the type of food you will buy, and what decorations you put up. It is no exaggeration to call it the most important part of the entire preparation of the party and where you can pull together all your BBQ party ideas.
There are many different types of BBQ, and each has its own defining style. There are a few important factors to consider when choosing your concept:
Will the guests enjoy your idea?
You have to make sure the concept is enjoyable for everyone; for example, a football night BBQ may not be the best idea for the local women’s institute. For them, it won’t be an amazing BBQ party but you never know; they may have their own 5-a-side Saturday team.
Is the concept within your budget?
This is one of the more important tips for a BBQ. A bit of planning and a calculator are a must. The costs can accumulate as you wander down the supermarket aisles, trying to ensure you’ll have enough for everyone.
Tip: you will have more than enough; they won’t all want a bit of everything.
Consider how much an average person will eat, on average being 3-5lbs of food a day. Of course, we don’t mean 4lbs of food for dinner. 4lbs for 3 people is a good ratio for an evening BBQ dinner. Then multiply 4lbs by your number of guests + 50%. If it’s a boozy party, +100% It’s easy to get carried away with BBQs, but a good rule of thumb is ‘the more the merrier!’ it’s better to go a little overboard than to have a bit too little in the end!
(you can always have leftovers for breakfast 😉 )
Do you have the required space for your concept?
Will the Spanish-themed flamenco dancers fit on your patio alongside the table, BBQ and Frank, who could do with losing a few pounds? Use all the available space you have and use it wisely. Each person needs around 1.5 m2 to feel comfortable. This is easier to do when hosting an outdoor BBQ but can get trickier if you move it indoors due to the challenges of British weather.
What will you do for BBQ food and drink? Will that be part of your concept?
It is possible to separate out the theme from the food, but then it wouldn’t be a BBQ Party; it would be a party with a BBQ. A different thing entirely, and you can find a blog about that here.
Only kidding; this is the Great British BBQ site, and we’ll have none of this half-hearted, ‘almost a BBQ event’.
BBQ Party Ideas
There are loads of BBQ themes to choose from out there. But don’t stop there, your own personalised themes can make for incredible experiences! Below are a few of our favourite BBQ party ideas:
The Great British BBQ – What could be better for a warm summer’s evening than a Classic British BBQ? It’s become much more popular in recent years, and a perfect excuse to haul that old bbq set we bought years ago without purpose. This theme is the most common, and sometimes simplest to do. The perfect, impromptu event for anyone to host on a calm summer’s evening, it is guaranteed to gain interest from all your friends, and with a plentiful helping of sausages, burgers, wings, or anything you want to throw on the BBQ, leave your party feeling happy and full. It is always a great themed BBQ to host, especially when bringing out the British bunting and cooking the British classics, it is a great way to begin your love of BBQing!
By The Sea Party – A BBQ party in the summer doesn’t have to be limited to beef and chicken. With a ‘By The Sea’ barbecue gathering, make use of your seafood resources with grilled shrimp, scallops, salmon, seafood skewers, and kabobs, as well as grilled halibut. You can also grill corn and prepare a variety of pasta to match your off-the-grid motif, surprising your guests with dishes like seafood skewers or seafood linguine. This theme is ideal for those who want to add some beach flair to their yard. Add sand and seashells to your bar area, then use lots of sea blue décor to create an airy and breezy setting. Play island-inspired music and make a Mai Tai cool off the guests. With a lovely blue party invitation, provide visitors with a sneak peek of what’s in store.
Read more about hosting an awesome beach BBQ.
Backyard BBQ Dinner Party – If you want to provide your visitors with a nice and cosy environment, a delightful backyard dinner party in the early evening might be ideal! You could create your entire celebration using the colour palette from your invitation and send out elegant dinner party invites. For a little BBQ dinner party, stick to just two or three meats on the barbecue, such as salmon and steak. The tablescape and outside bbq party decorations are usually the primary focuses (foci?) of an outdoor dinner party. A lovely table setting populated with stylish decorations that complement one another will impress your guests.
Read more about our Backyard BBQ Party
Classic Western BBQ Party – Plan a classic Western barbecue party to liven things up and let your guests know what they’ve been missing out on. Because this theme is based on Texas BBQ, you can practise your slow-cooked meats like brisket. Add some flavour to your grill with hickory or apple BBQ smoking chips to give your burgers and hot dogs a unique flair. After you’ve chosen a cuisine, you can make a distinct table full of various BBQ sauces to spice up your meals.
Read more about our Classic American BBQ Party theme
Beer & BBQ Tasting – Beer and BBQ have always gone hand-in-hand, making a beer tasting party the ideal BBQ event. Stock up on plenty of your favourite brews or put together a selection of different craft beers to try during the celebration (plus don’t forget about the glassware). Include star ratings for guests to choose their favourite, as well as beer-friendly snacks to go with the drink selection. You’re sure to have plenty of drinks to match your BBQ menu packed with ribs, burgers, or skewers.
Read more about our BBQ and Beer Tasting Party
BBQ Themed Food
And now for the most important part of any BBQ, the food! You should consider what range of choices you are going to have, whether it’s the classic BBQ party food items like Burgers, Hotdogs and Chicken Wings, or more adventurous delicacies like Brisket Burnt Ends, special marinades to go with meats or special types of meat, like venison sausages, boar, and so on. There is no end to the variety of things you can BBQ, don’t be afraid to try new and exciting things!
It’s not a big leap from a burger to a set of Mexican-themed salsa fresh from the supermarket aisle. Put them together and <insert inappropriate racial stereotype here>
Wander through any supermarket and you’ll get a pile of ideas but, don’t get carried away. Just one theme at a time, no fusion cooking here.
The Great Outdoor Party Menace
British weather is uniquely random and can always surprise even us brits who are used to it. Make sure that, just in case the heavens open up, you are prepared to retreat inside for shelter. Alternatively, you could prepare ponchos or other items to protect your guests from the weather. This is the best way to survive a quick shower, but not a torrential downpour. With good planning, the weather won’t be a problem and after all it is great fun to BBQ in the Rain
The all-purpose BBQ Party food list:
This is where the fun begins! BBQing is a joy many people share, and now you have planned much of your BBQ party, we come to the food. The very first thing to consider is the dietary requirements of your guests. If there are any allergies that can be catered for, make sure you do. If there are any vegetarians or vegans, it’s easy to bring along options for both. Once this is done, you can prepare your food list.
If you have a concept that requires specific food, then get what you want for that. For a general pop-up BBQ, however, it’s important to bring the classic options catalogued in this BBQ Party food list:
- Burgers are the first on the list for a reason. Burgers, with condiments like fried onions, ketchup or BBQ sauce, are very varied. With other interesting meat patties, including mint and lamb, burgers are always a strong choice
- Hotdogs are as customisable as burgers. They are an excellent second classic option to complement Burgers!
- Home-made condiments are excellent to impress your friends and show off your BBQ skills. These could be marinades for your meats, especially good with ribs for example, or dipping sauces for other foods.
- Chicken is a classic meat. Everyone knows BBQ chicken wings for a reason. You can do it in many styles, on the grill, home fried, or even korean style if you feel adventurous.
- Fish is not always used in BBQs, but there are actually some really great recipes out there that can make fish the favourite at your BBQ party!
- Don’t miss out on the veggies! Corn on the cob is a must for any BBQ, but there are many other options of fried or grilled veggies that go great on a BBQ, after all, who doesn’t like skewers?
- Don’t forget the drinks! Wines, Beers and Spirits if you’re daring enough are all a great addition to the BBQ. You can even use some of those drinks in your recipes. Of course, always have soft drinks, squash or other light stuff for those who don’t want to, or can’t, drink.
There are always more things you can add to your list of food to bring, but don’t think all the burden is on you. Why not have guests bring their own favourite foodstuffs to grill or drinks to have?
Always remember that you don’t just need the food, but also the equipment. Make sure you have all the BBQ essentials, tools and equipment to be able to make use of the amazing food you want to cook!
The Last BBQ Essentials
Turn the Music Up!
Plan a great playlist to set the BBQ atmosphere we all know and love. Make sure you have a diverse selection of music to go over a long period of time. Nobody likes music playing on loop for 30 minutes. You should aim for a 5+ hour playlist (about 100 songs), it may be a good idea to delegate someone to make sure the music stays going. If your BBQ party is themed, try not to make the music too Cliché (well, maybe just a little).
If you’re strapped for music ideas, you can go onto youtube and search up terms like ‘bbq party playlist’ or just ‘party music’. You can find loads of great ideas from Bob Marley to Maroon 5, there is a treasure trove of great music to put on out there!
It’s important to check with any neighbours you have before having your BBQ, just to make sure they are ok with any loud noise. If you don’t plan on boosting the music that loud, then all should be fine. In the UK there are statutory nuisance noise laws that could get in the way of your BBQ party, but with a little forethought, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
You can see the government advisory page here for more details
There’s only a couple final tips to hosting an amazing BBQ party. Never be afraid to ask for help! BBQs are an amazing chance for kids to help out, and loads of people would be happy to bring sides, desserts, or beverages; don’t worry about delegating some roles, even if it is just decorating the garden or laying the table for example.
Last but not least, socialise! You may not be aware of it, but your visitors are there to see you, not just sample your culinary masterpieces! So don’t spend all night running around clearing up or serving food – just have fun, don’t stress and be present!
You should now have all the confidence and inspiration you need to host your own Amazing BBQ party, don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Twitter @greatbritbbq. Check out some more of our helpful blogs here, or why not check out our unique, tried and tested recipes here! Hopefully these tips for a BBQ should help you out!