It’s been planned out for some time now. You wake up excited for what the day will bring. You inch closer to your phone-eager to find out if the weather is going to hold out. It looks promising! Seventy-five degrees and cloudy. You can work with that! Everyone will be over to the house at 1. So much to do and so little time, but the overall anticipation is worth it. It's time to list out all the food that needs to be made, and those last few dishes aren’t going to wash themselves.
It’s ok. It’s worth it because there is nothing quite like a backyard barbeque.
While the memories made make it worth it, the prep time is a hassle. Lists help. Let’s make more lists. Jenny likes veggie trays, but your husband wants so many dips that you’ll have no room for a veggie tray.
It’s no problem. You’ll make it work.
There’s that extra table sitting in the dining room. You can make room there, but it doesn’t work with the traffic flow. There’s a chair in the corner. That can go in the living area. Problem solved!
Let’s take a second, plop down on the couch and do some last-minute planning. Cheetos... Cheetos are great brain food with little to no mess. You have done a year’s worth of cleaning. This week. You can eat real food later. Although, they do give you weird dreams. Anyway, it’s fine. How can one food be so delicious? Their cheesiness combined with their crispy crunch make them impossible to stop eating. Get a bowl. If they are in the bowl, it will stop you from eating the whole bag. Mmmmm... so good. Ok, just a few more. Time to sit back down- pen in one hand and orange residue on the other. This lists spews on the page like barbeque glides across those ribs everyone asked for. It’s great. It’s going to be perfect.
Ah, man! The Cheetos are GONE! Never mind. It’s going on the list. M O R E C H E E T O S ... This barbeque isn’t going to plan itself.
STEP 1: Set Up.
The overall setup for your backyard barbeque is an important place to start. If it doesn’t flow well, the traffic in the house will be horrendous. There needs to be enough space between Aunt Sue and Lisa. We can’t have another Uncle Ray’s backyard barbeque dispute, not at your house. There was more barbeque on the walls than on guests’ plates, and still, no one has found Uncle Hue’s shoe.
FOOD- food is what is on everyone’s minds, but if you don’t know where to put it, what’s the point in overcooking? Consider the space you have to work with. Traffic is going to be CRAZY at the grill and in the kitchen. Kids and pets are designated to the porch for eating. Can’t have everyone tripping over the twins or Lisa’s poodle named Bear.
Food setup will be displayed on the porch, but the sweet treats will be banished to the dining room- out of the way of insects and little curious hands. Snacks should be spread out accordingly. “Is the food ready yet,” must be avoided at all costs. If not, a few choice words will be said, and you’ll never host another backyard barbeque again. No matter where your guests are, they can grab a snack and go. This keeps the kitchen and grill’s pathway open for trips in and out. The cooking zone is OFF limits unless you are cooking or hosting. Period. That should be a sign... It’s going on the list.
You need to clear space by the grill because you know Ray says he’ll do it but never will. If you don’t do it, you’ll be running in and out of the house transferring hamburgers and hotdogs. It’s the last thing you’ll have time to do. The condiments go out at the VERY last minute. Can’t have them lukewarm. Lisa won’t let you live it down!
Back to layout. Once the layout for the food is set, consider where to put the games. Corn hole, jumbo Jenga and the annual family football game are musts to consider. There has to be enough room among the three, so feuding family members can rant amongst themselves. Clear space accordingly. There needs to be plenty of fold up chairs available for the people still suffering from their barbeque food coma. Picnic blankets can be set aside for the nappers. As for the kids, cartoons will be playing in the living area, in your sight, out of the way of Lisa. Lisa doesn’t do young kids.
BYO lawn chairs for the win! Other parents understand the pressure of setting up for a party. Odds are they will already have several fold-up chairs in the back of their SUV from soccer practice. You're not stereotyping- just stating facts. Their chairs are taken care of, the games are out, and there is enough space cleared off to feed an army. Although, feeding an army may be easier. Now off to food prep...
STEP 2: Feed an Army.
Savory and sweet, easy to make and grab and go- the best foods for barbeques are the ones that even picky eaters love, and junk food is a must. If the food at a backyard barbeque isn’t finger-lickin' good, you are doing it wrong. A barbeque is an ideal potluck. Everyone brings a covered dish. Send out a group text to confirm what everyone is bringing. If someone cancels, make a list for those missing dishes, so you can do a quick grocery run.
If you are unsure of what to make for a backyard barbeque, ask your guests for their one major request. This will help give you an idea on barbeque favorites. Having everyone bring a covered dish and/or sweet treats or asking ahead of time helps limit guessing. Nobody has time for guessing.
Hosting a backyard barbeque has nearly as much pressure as any other family get-together. Good food and good times- there is something extra special about connecting with the people you care about in the fresh air surrounded by good food. Barbeque does sound good right about now... Nope. Never mind. No time to eat. Time to PLAN.
STEP 3: Get to Barbequing.
Sizzle and flip- the patty makes air. One, two, three... The race is on to make the center perfectly juicy and the outside charred to perfection. Caramelization and rejuvenation are what is on the menu for the family barbeque. Dry and wet ribs are ready to fill the stomachs of your hangry group flooding your home. Diced onions, relish and chili are displayed like prizes for those hot-dog-lovin' guests.
Cut tomatoes and onions, but don’t cut corners. You'll be running them in and out of the kitchen like a conveyor belt runs across a fully functioning workshop. Main course. Cleanup. Second plates. Cleanup. Deserts. Cleanup. Drinks upon drinks upon drinks. Cleanup. When is it going to stop? Then it happens. It all slows down. Everyone lays out, holding their stomachs, ready to pass out. The party isn’t over. It has just begun. You jump into the center, challenging Uncle Hue to a game of football. The games get started, and you sneak away for more cleanup. Thank God you went with plastic EVERYTHING! It is the key to an “easy” and "painless” barbeque.
Down to the very last guest that’s chit chatting with your husband. You are cleaning- hoping they notice the nonverbal conversation you are having with them in your head. It’s late. We have to cleanup. PLEASE... please go home. You hope the mumble isn’t released from behind your teeth as you smile and wave. All the sudden. She inches closer to the door. You silently wish that your husband would stop talking, so the guest leaves. He does. Now to get everything cleaned up. The preparation went so smoothly that it doesn’t seem real. You finally get to indulge in the goodies from the barbeque. How’d you forget to eat? I mean... barbeque prep isn’t for the faint of heart. You lean back in the recliner and shut your eyes- just for a moment.
The ringing in your ear is undeniable. A sudden rush of anxiety fills your body...head-to-toe. Why is the alarm going off? It’s Sunday. Your hand reaches out. With one eye open, you check the time. You gasp for air. It’s not Sunday. It’s Saturday.
That can’t be right. You check again- both eyes open this time. The barbeque is TODAY? No way it was a dream! It seemed so real. You have been planning on how to prep for the barbeque all week. It’s seventy-five and cloudy- cloudy with a chance of desperation... At least you made a list. But wait... why is there an empty Cheetos bag on the couch? Your husband walks in... asking what time everyone is coming over. “Is that Cheetos?” he says. You sit there, still, mentally preparing yourself for this freaky Friday moment.
Is it a bad time to say our florists at 1-800-Flowers Clark in Clark, NJ, are here to help with all your floral needs, or is it too soon? Too soon... Happy barbecuing!