Alright, folks. Summer is just around the corner. The sun is out, the grass is green, and the summer vibes are warming up. There’s so many reasons to love summer, but we at Aras believe the best part of the summer season are the barbecues. What’s not to love about a good ol’ fashioned BBQ? It’s the perfect way to spend time with friends and family during the hot summer days. 

The best part about BBQs in the summer is that there are no right or wrong reasons to have one. It’s common to have a BBQ on holidays like Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Juneteenth and July 4th, as those are days a lot of people get off work. But they’re also the perfect event for birthdays, graduation celebrations or even anniversaries! So if you feel like grillin’, why not throw a BBQ that will leave a lasting impression on your friends and family? If you’ve never thrown any sort of event before, and you’re looking to throw an amazing barbecue this summer, you’ve come to the right place!

It may not seem like it, but a lot of effort and planning can go into a barbecue. From creating your guest list, making and sending the invites, curating a perfect summer menu and prepping the event space with decorations can be overwhelming if you’ve never thrown a BBQ or an event like this before, which is why we’ve created a guide that has the basic information you’ll need when planning to have a barbecue or outdoor event. 

And just as a heads up, there’s a lot to cover for this topic, so this will be a four-part series. In this first part, we’re going to focus on the first three essential steps in planning a BBQ: picking a date and location, creating a guest list and pushing out the invitations. 

Note: the following information can be applied for any event, not just a barbecue. So if you’re looking to plan any event at all this summer (or any season, for that matter) that doesn’t quite classify as a barbecue, this guide is still perfect for you! 

Planning Your BBQ

Planning, for any event, is the most important part. Without proper planning, an event such as a BBQ can be chaotic and unorganized, which can lead to your guests not having a good time. We obviously don’t want that. Our goal here is to throw a memorable BBQ that has your guests asking when the next one is as they leave at the end of the night. To help achieve this goal, here are a few crucial steps you should not skip in the planning stage:

Picking a Date & Location

Let’s start with the first thing you’re probably going to want to do: picking a date and location.

If you’re throwing your BBQ on or around a holiday, it’s important to note that while most government employees and those that work in corporate offices have the day off for holidays such as Memorial Day and July 4th, this unfortunately does not apply to those who work in medicine, retail or the food industry, or any industry that is considered essential. So if you want a majority of people on your guest list to be able to make it, it would make perfect sense to have the BBQ the weekend before or after. Choose a date that works for you and a majority of the people you’re inviting. 

As for the location, if you’ve got a backyard, the space to accommodate people and the energy to put into making this event amazing, then throw it at your place! However, we understand that not everyone might check all of these boxes. If you want to throw a BBQ but don’t necessarily have the space for it, find a park near you that allows BBQs/parties! Make sure to check their rules regarding large gatherings and create a list of all the supplies you’re going to need to bring to the park on the day of.

Now that we’ve got our date and location settled, let’s move on to the second most important step: the guest list. 

Making a Guest List

For some people, this step may not seem necessary. While you may not necessarily need a concrete list of guests, it is good to have a solid estimate of how many people will attend. This rings true for any and all events – especially when food will be served. The guest list is not only for you to know who to expect to be there, but also how much and what food to prepare. Don’t worry – we will delve into the specifics regarding the menu later. For now, we want to focus on getting an estimate for the number of people that will attend. This will give you a solid idea on how much food to buy and prepare, as well as how much supplies you need to purchase.

It’s also important to note that you should not overdo it or overwhelm yourself. If you don’t think you can accommodate 50-100 people, whether it be due to space restrictions or the cost of food, don’t be afraid to keep the guest list small! Remember, this is your party, you have control! 

Okay! We’re making great progress here. Now that we’ve got our date and location picked out, and our guest list created, what’s next? Next is where you can choose to show off your impeccable Canva skills – the invites. This step might seem a bit self-explanatory for those who are experienced in event planning, so if you feel confident in your invite-making skills, feel free to skip! If not, read on and take notes!

Making Your Invites

There are a few ways you can go about doing the invitations. For those of you wanting to keep your BBQ casual, it’s perfectly fine to send a mass text or email to the people on your guest list with the basic information regarding the event, which we discuss below. 

On the other hand, if you’re a bit over-the-top and want to go the extra mile, you can design a beautiful invitation using any design program you’d like. We love to use Canva for this because of how easy it is to use for those of us who aren’t necessarily well-versed in graphic design, or for those of us who simply can’t be bothered! Canva has tons of pre-made evite designs to choose from, and you can decide to edit the color scheme to fit your vibe, or just edit the text and keep it pushing! It’s totally up to you – there’s no shame in keeping it simple!

Note: We’ve included some examples of electronic invites from Canva. Visit Canva to see the wide array of premade designs they have! 

CREDIT TO CANVA.COM

If you don’t want to use Canva, you could also use Evite! It’s the same idea as Canva, but it’s specifically geared for electronic invitations, and might be a tad bit easier to use in regards to sending them out to your guests. Evite also lets you track who has RSVP’d and who has yet to respond, which can be very helpful!

 

 

Regardless of how you choose to invite your guests, every invitation – simple or extravagant – should include the following:

  • When & Where
    • Pretty self explanatory. If you’re having your event/BBQ at a public park, be sure to include details of where to find you, e.g., “underneath the large oak tree,” or “near parking lot A,” as some public parks might have multiple events going on at once.
  • What Should (or Shouldn’t) Your Guests Bring?
    • This is a good thing to include so that you don’t end up with a surplus of anything (although no one will complain about extra food, we’re sure), or worse, end up with a shortage of something.
    • This could also include guests. Are you okay with your guests bringing someone you’re not familiar with? Let your guests know in the invitation!
  • Inquire About Dietary Restrictions
    • This is especially important as it will come in handy when it comes time to curate the menu, as well as when it’s time to buy and prep the food. For example, if you have a guest with gluten intolerance, you have to be very careful when prepping the gluten free foods so as to not cross-contaminate things. When preparing food options for those with gluten intolerance, it is good practice to prepare the gluten free food first. If you prepare food that contains gluten first, be sure to clean ALL utensils, pans, pots, etc., before using them to prepare gluten free foods to avoid cross contamination. We will discuss this a bit more in the next blog post, but in the meantime here is an article from BeyondCeliac.org on how to entertain gluten-free guests at your function. Remember, your goal is to ensure that everyone has a good time, and this includes making sure everyone at your event is included!

Whew, that was a lot to cover. That concludes the first part of planning. You’ve got all the information you need to start planning your party! We still have a lot to cover, so in our next blog post, we will be focusing on the best part of any event: the food. We’ll discuss everything from curating the perfect menu to prepping the food for your guests. Stay tuned and happy planning, Aras fam!