The 6 Best Tips for a Summer Cookout

By MariJo Kolze

Summer Party

 There's nothing better than a summer cookout - complete with a nice day outside, friends and family, and plenty of food. Yet, it can sometimes be challenging to host many guests and organize your BBQ or cookout. As planning a cookout can be stressful, we'd like to share a few tips and ideas that will help you prepare!

1. Prepare in Advance

You can save yourself a lot of time by preparing in advance. A great place to start is knowing what to cook, how many people will attend and how you want to set up the cookout. By knowing this in advance you’ll be able to know how much time you’ll need to set up and what you’ll need to purchase well in advance...

Depending on what you decide to cook at your gathering, some meals may take longer than others since they need to marinade or be seasoned. For instance, you may want to marinade your meat the day before, or slice your veggies in advance in order to make your party preparations easier the day of. Additionally, if you wanted to prepare your own dips and sauces, this might require some preparation. We recommend inviting some family and friends to help prepare for the party as it will save you time, and gives you a chance to catch up with one another! 

Having an idea of how many people will attend your cookout will help you figure out how much food and drinks you'll need. The best way to feed a large crowd is to prepare hamburgers, which are very affordable and serve several people. Alternatively, if you are entertaining a smaller group, you can spoil them with grass-fed steak or some BBQ ribs. 

It is not necessary to set up decorations for your cookout, but it can definitely add to the fun of the event! Getting your decorations ready a couple days before is a good idea if you decide to decorate. Decorating can be something as simple as arranging flowers on the tables, or it could be fun as setting up a photo booth. By preparing everything in advance, it will make set up easier on the day and prevent last-minute runs to the store. 

2. Keep The Main Dishes Simple

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

A summer cookout or BBQ for your guests isn't as complicated as you might think. There are plenty of easy dishes to make everyone happy. Hot dogs, burgers, and sausages are some classic BBQ foods that you can use as staples for your next party. These are all great options since they’re easy to grill and affordable. As there is no need to marinate beforehand, the preparation is very simple. You can still get a flavorful coating on the meat by adding spices and sauces during the cooking process.

 Even better, try setting up a condiment bar to complement your meals! These meat options are great and go well with many toppings and condiments. For instance, you could simply add pickles, tomatoes, and cheese to the condiment bar, while ketchup and mayo are served on the side. To make your guests even more impressed, you can grill mushrooms or vegetables and serve them with your favorite BBQ sauce as we recommend our Waterloo BBQ Sauce. We recommend these BBQ staples because they are simple and great for all ages, including kids! Ultimately, your guests just want to enjoy good food and good company.

3. Choose Tasty But Easy Side Dishes

Your meal will be just that much better when you select easy yet fun side dishes! For your cookout, there are plenty of easy but flavorful side dishes that you can prepare. We suggest preparing some type of salad such as a potato salad or even a pasta salad. Side dishes like these are great because they can be kept in the fridge and give a fresh and light taste. In addition, they make great leftovers throughout the week and are made to serve a large crowd! Even if you don't have much time, you can still prepare a nice meal by grilling some vegetables and baking a loaf of bread. This is a great way to complement the delicious meat that you grilled.

4. Have Snacks And Drinks Ready To Go!

Cookouts cannot be complete without delicious snacks and drinks to keep your guests entertained. Small snacks and beverages can be a great way to keep them happy! Easy snacks that are great and require little to no preparation are chips and a dip. You can either make your own special dip or buy a dip of your choice. Alternatively, if you wanted a healthier option, you could prepare a fruit platter or a vegetable platter with a favorite dip. You can offer your guests many tasty snacks that are suitable for all dietary needs.

Drink Cooler

During the party, you can serve your guests a wide variety of drinks to keep them refreshed. The key to keeping your drinks nice and cool is having a cooler filled with ice on hand. You can fill the cooler with many different types of drinks for both kids and adults. A pitcher of homemade punch or lemonade is a great option for kids. You can either prepare your own juice or simply buy little cans of juice at the store. As for adults, you can keep a variety of alcoholic beverages in the cooler to keep them cool and accessible. As far as everybody, make sure you have plenty of water available since summer cookouts can get hot! 

5. Add Some Festive Decorations

Make your cookout more than just food by incorporating decorations or creating a theme. Making those special memories more memorable can be done by creating a theme or simply by adding decorations. Arrange your next summer party around special occasions or holidays like Father’s Day or 4th of July. 

Father's Day is the perfect time to recognize and honor the special dads in our lives! You can decorate your cookout with Dad’s favorite colors, or even prepare some of his favorite BBQ dishes. To help you decide what to BBQ for Dad, look at these recipes

4th of July Flag

The 4th of July is also a fun holiday to decorate for as it celebrates America's independence. Add red, white, and blue decor to your cookout by decorating your tables, plates, and silverware. Check out these 4th of July Party Ideas for some great inspiration. When planning your next summer cookout, consider these great holiday ideas. Nonetheless, summer is the perfect season to throw any party!

6. Choose a Self-Serve Food Bar

Once the preparation and cooking is done, it is best to set up a self-serve food bar where your guests can feed themselves. You'll be able to display the snacks, meals and desserts you prepared throughout the day. Providing guests with this style of service is efficient because they can choose the amount and type of each dish they want to eat. We recommend this type of style of service as it allows your guests to interact with one another and creates a fun atmosphere. This way, your guests are sure not to go hungry!