Perhaps you've just moved into a new place with space and are about to host your first backyard barbecue. Or maybe you've thrown a lot of backyard barbecues this summer. Maybe you always do. You have the setup and the space, and it just makes sense when it's your time to host to opt for a barbecue.
But this time, you have a different set of people coming over. It could be a boss or some friends or family members you would really like to impress. You might even be hosting a wedding reception or some other special occasion. You are definitely doing a barbecue, but sometimes those kinds of parties can get a little messy. Is there a way to wow your guests in spite of the BBQ's typically casual nature? Let's look at some ideas for how to elevate your upcoming backyard barbecue party.
You decide your menu. While burgers and hot dogs are always crowd-pleasers, they are relatively informal foods. If you spend a little more on your burgers and introduce something interesting, like barbecued fish, you can create that elevated atmosphere you were going for. Another idea is to skip the burgers and go for a more specialized fare like brisket, chicken, or tri-tip. Even grilling a pizza would subvert expectations and make an occasion feel special. Some gorgeous kabobs made of lovely meat and vegetable combinations can also change things up and take your barbecue to the next level. If you are really confident, you might consider going for lamb or goat meat.
Remember, all of these new meats take practice and probably also require some marinating preparation. Always make sure you know what you are doing before you offer something new at a party.
Paper plates and disposable eating utensils have a clearly casual mood. Plus, if you overdo a sauce or leave the coleslaw for too long, you may end up finding your plate compromised and your food leeching through onto the table. Not very elegant. On the other hand, if you go for your nicer dishes, you automatically change the spirit of your party. You can use better-made disposable plates and utensils if you only need a little boost. If you need more, sauces in glass or crystal with serving spoons and ceramic plates or china with patterned napkins or even cloth napkins will definitely create a very different mood from that of paper plates, plastic forks, and regular napkins. Set out what you can and use cute mesh food covers to protect your display if you are worried about the outdoors getting into your meal.
Instead of no table cloth or a plastic table cloth, put a real tablecloth made of a cotton blend or linen on your table. A table runner with some garlands could be a nice touch. Floral centerpieces are also very classy and can take up less space than a runner in case your gathering is more intimate. If there isn't really shade and it will be a burning hot summer day, look into renting a pavilion canopy. If it is autumn for you and the evening might get a little cooler, look for heaters or nice throw blankets to keep your guests warm.
As far as light goes, candles can light up people's faces during the evening. You can also use strings of twinkle lights overhead if things still feel too dark. Tying ribbons around your centerpieces and around the candle stands or having ribbon strands hanging from your lights might help make things a bit more stylish as well. Use nice outdoor furniture that is comfortable or use those throw blankets or throw pillows to make whatever you have as comfortable as possible.
Setting out glass pitchers with different kinds of punch and lemonade?—maybe add some ice cream!?—or even a cider as we get into fall gives your guests some interesting drink choices. Additionally, having a few different kinds of salad available in nice dishes lets your guests sample different things and combine different flavors. Don't forget dessert! Offer warm desserts for cooler nights or no-bake and cold desserts for hotter nights. Chilled cheesecakes and creamy fruit ensembles present delicious opportunities to delight your guests and finish your barbecue strong! All of these options will impress your guests and give them the chance to choose the combinations that please their palettes, leading to a gastro-satisfaction that will definitely make your party successful.
Now that you have some suggestions bouncing around in your head, do your own brainstorming and see what you can do to elevate your backyard barbecue into a stylish special occasion that everyone will remember.