How to throw an epic Memorial Day BBQ party.


If you’re thinking about hosting a BBQ this weekend, get your backyard ready by completing a few easy steps. Use these expert tips to prepare the yard for your next outdoor gathering.

Preparing and setting up your BBQ.

When hosting a BBQ, you should always take stock of the supplies and BBQ equipment you’ll need, including:

  • A grill
  • A grill table
  • Propane 
  • Charcoal
  • A basting brush
  • A wire grill brush
  • A stainless steel grilling fork
  • Several spatulas
  • A few tongs
  • Foil
  • Plates and cups
  • 1-3 coolers
  • Napkins or paper towels
  • Eating utensils (spoons, forks, etc.)

Your grill is the heart of any BBQ party. If you have a gas grill, check if you have enough propane a few days before the celebration. If you don't have a gas grill, ensure that you have all of the charcoal supplies you’ll need for the day.

It’s also always advisable to test your grill to see if it’s working properly. If it’s broken and you can’t fix it, you can always hire a grill repair service. If your grill needs to be cleaned, do so with a wire grill brush. You should also set up an area next to your grill where everything you’ll need is easily reachable. For example, a grill table is ideal for placing your food, seasoning and utensils as you cook.

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Cleaning your outdoor area.

An uncut lawn and untrimmed hedges can be an eyesore at a backyard party. Mow your lawn beforehand to give your yard a fresh look. If you’re pressed for time or don’t have a lawnmower, hire a lawn care professional.

Don’t forget to throw away debris and rake old leaves away from your garden and flower beds. Remove broken tree branches, too. You should also give your backyard a good sweep, and throw away any litter, like candy wrappers.

Pressure washing has a revitalizing effect on any backyard. It can make your concrete hardscapes, patio furniture, deck and patio look brand new. It’s always best to hire a professional to do this task — especially if you don’t know how to safely operate a pressure washer.

Finally, if you have a pool, clean it before the BBQ. You can do this yourself by using a pool vacuum or by skimming the surface with a net and pole. If you don’t have the time, or if your swimming pool is in bad shape, hire a pool cleaning service near you.

Tip: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a few guidelines for hosting large or small gatherings during the COVID pandemic. For example, consider providing masks, hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations for your guests. Always adhere to your local and state rules and regulations for at-home gatherings. 

BBQ food, dessert and drink ideas.

chicken kabobs BBQIs it really a BBQ if you don’t serve, well, BBQ food? If you and your party guests prefer traditional fare, buy enough hamburgers, hot dogs, kabobs, chicken, ribs, hot links and/or juicy steaks. Pair your main courses with potato salad, pasta salad or some chips. Coleslaw, baked beans and black bean burgers are popular vegetarian-friendly meals for guests who will appreciate meatless options.

Nothing tops a delicious BBQ meal like a patriotically themed dessert. You could opt for donuts and decorate them with red, white or blue sparkles. Or, enjoy s’mores, a strawberry shortcake or raspberry pie. For the 21-and-over crowd wanting to cool off with an alcoholic drink afterward, offer them a glass of sangria with some berry-flavored vodka and moscato wine.

Want to really impress everyone at your BBQ? Treat your guests to a truly unique culinary experience by getting your BBQ catered. Or, splurge on a personal chef to do all of the cooking for you. You can also look into booking a food truck that specializes in BBQ food and other types of cuisines. 

Lastly, get enough treats and drinks for the kids. Load up on water, juice boxes, soda and other refreshments. Popsicles are always a solid go-to when the weather is hot and the kids are begging for something sweet to eat. 

Tip: Don’t forget about your guests who might have food allergies, sensitivities or preferences. If you want to be a superstar host or hostess, take note of which guests prefer vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, nut-free and even keto-friendly options.

Some backyard decorating tips.

When setting up the tables in your backyard, decorate them with a red tablecloth and drape a white runner over it. You can also add some tiny American flags to the table. Or, opt for decorations that are a tad more subtle. For instance, just add a few festive scatter cushions or throws to your outdoor seating. Or, decorate your table with red flowers and blue serviettes, and tie each guest’s cutlery together with red, white and blue ribbon. If you have a swimming pool, simply throw red, white and blue beach balls or inflatables into it. 

Keep in mind you’ll need lighting if your barbecue carries on into the night. Light up the area with a few lanterns, string lights or grill lights. If that’s not enough, hire a professional to install permanent outdoor lighting fixtures.

Backyard BBQ party activities for kids.

kids swimming in poolOf course, you’ll want to keep the adults entertained at your backyard BBQ, but make sure your party is memorable for the kids, too. Plus, children can get bored quickly, so come up with a few activities that will keep them occupied for a few hours (their parents will thank you). 

For example, set up an arts and crafts station with a table, chairs, paper, markers, crayons, coloring books, glue, stickers, glitter and more. Or, if the weather permits, provide a few water toys, water balloons, a water slide or bubble blowers. 

Another idea: bring out the kids’ competitive side by organizing some family-friendly games. For example, try these ideas: 

  • Yarn trail. Buy a few bales of colorful yarn. Then, create a ‘yarn trail’ that leads to a gift bag for each kid. Fill the bags with candies or little toys you know they’ll love.
  • Obstacle course. Create a makeshift obstacle course in your backyard by using your existing playground equipment, old moving boxes, pool noodles, hula hoops and jump ropes.
  • Races. Get the kids to participate in a classic race, such as an “egg-on-a-spoon” or a potato sack race.
  • Pool games. Throw some pool noodles, beach balls and inflatable games into the water, or put up a volleyball net or basketball hoop. Just remember to have an adult on duty at all times to watch out for the kids’ safety.
  • The classics. You could also entertain the kiddos with an array of board games or old-school games like musical chairs, hopscotch, flag football and capture the flag.

Cleaning up after your BBQ party.

Cleaning up after hosting a BBQ doesn’t have to be tedious. Follow these steps to ensure a quick and seamless cleanup:

  1. Start by cleaning your grill. Use a wire bottle brush with an elongated handle and some water mixed with grease removing dishwasher liquid. 
  2. Throw away trashdisposable plates and cups. Put recyclable items in the correct bins and cans. 
  3. Wash the outdoor surfaces thoroughly with soap and water or an antibacterial cleaning solution. Use a hose to wash decking, patios and walkways that endured food and drink spills.
  4. Clean your patio furniture. Wipe away dirt from your outdoor and patio furniture. Remember to use the appropriate cleaning agents for your furniture type. When in doubt, stick to gentle or mild cleaners, lukewarm water and soft cloths.
  5. Clear your lawn. Your guests may have spilled soda and leftovers on your freshly mowed grass. Pick up any and throw away food and trash to avoid attracting pests and other wildlife. 
  6. Place all the dishes in the dishwasher, and start a cycle before you go to bed.
  7. Throw dirty items in the washing machine. Place dirty tablecloths, cloth napkins and patio cushion covers in the laundry room so you don’t forget to wash them the next day. If the cushion covers are non-removable, clean them by hand.
  8. Clean the bathroom and entryway. In the bathroom, disinfect your counters, toilets, faucets, light switches and doorknobs. And if your guests walked through your home to get to your backyard, don’t forget to sweep your floors, tidy up the entryway and check your walls for dirty fingerprints and smudges left by small children.

Remember: you can always hire a professional cleaning service if you’re too tired or strapped for time.

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Use Thumbtack to throw an epic backyard BBQ.

Hosting a BBQ is fun but also time-consuming. Depending on how big the party is (and how elaborate you want to make it), you could get overwhelmed quickly. If that happens, don’t fret — Thumbtack can help you out. Just search for the service you need, and hire a professional to help with all of the cooking, cleaning and decorating this Memorial Day.

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