That’s me in the middle flanked by my cousins at my grandparents’ annual, epic Memorial Day party in 1971![/caption] The official “kick-off to summer” weekend is upon us and many of us will be hosting backyard parties. As fun as these shindigs are; hosting one is A LOT of work, so let’s take a look at some tips to make it a little easier and fun for you.

  1. Rally the potluck! The vast majority of your guests want to help and bring something but may not want to ask or know what to bring, so make it easy and send out the invitation asking that each guest bring a side dish, appetizer or dessert! Tell them what you will be providing (grills, main dish, tables/chairs, water, ice, dinnerware, etc.) and then ask that everyone feel free to bring their favorite party dish.¬† Sure you may end up with three potato salads, but in my experience, no one makes potato salad the same way so there will be variety! And by the way, I make one of the BEST onion dips on the planet…so you can invite me to your party and that’s what I will bring (it’s life-changing).
  2. Limit the booze. No this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have alcohol at your party, just that you shouldn’t be expected to provide a full bar for your guests. In the invitation let your guests know what you will provide for drinks. This can be as simple as water, iced tea/lemonade, lots of ice and soda. Or you could include that there will be a signature drink (Sangria, rum punch, etc) or a keg. Then ask that if people want something particular they may BYOB. Have a few tubs of ice available for your guests to chill their¬†beverage of choice.
  3. Get creative with your food offerings. If you have decided on burgers, dogs, and chicken there is no reason that you can’t spice things up a little. Sure the kids may want to stick to a standard burger, but your adult guests may love a little twist on the tradition. Try a jazzed up turkey burger that includes garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Frank’s Red Hot, salt and pepper (my own recipe). [caption id="attachment_964" align="aligncenter" width="370"]meatballsongrill Who said meatballs aren’t a barbecue food?![/caption]
  4. Amp up the condiments. A little flair with the condiments can jazz up even the simplest of burgers and it’s relatively easy to create.
    1. Ketchup and mustard are a given, but you may want to offer a few types of each.
    2. Offer a few flavors of hummus, it makes a great sandwich spread.
    3. Guacamole and salsa will turn a burger into a fiesta!
    4. Barbecue sauce and steak sauce.
    5. A few different types of cheese.
    6. Lettuce, tomato, onion are the mainstays, but consider adding pickles, sweet or hot peppers, cucumbers.
    7. When laying out the lettuce, consider keeping a plate of large pieces that people can use as a “bun”.
  5. Game on! Parties are a time to let our hair down and have a blast, one way to do that is to bring out all those lawn games of our youth! Nothing funnier than seeing a group of adults getting into a game of tetherball or lawn twister. Remeber how much fun a water balloon fight was, it still is! Bocce, corn hole, volleyball, Kan-Jam, horseshoes, etc. My favorite is watching a group of young kids and older adults have a blast together playing these games.
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Yard games can be more fun if you mix up the rules of two games!

One more recommendation with regard to alcohol at your party, make sure it is served out in the open. It may be more convenient to have the bar set up in your basement or garage, but this provides a greater opportunity for those adventurous teens to nip a few beers or bottles. Never underestimate the curiosity and daring of a group of teens seemingly unsupervised around alcohol.]]>

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