It takes more than a GrillMaster and a great potato salad recipe to have a winning summer barbecue. You have to trim the grass, choose and set out the games, and create the perfect atmosphere to encourage mingling. All that work takes planning. Fortunately, you can turn your backyard into a party yard through the cool fall months with these simple strategies.
Set Out Citronella Candles to Repel Mosquitoes
Image via Flickr by Brian Indrelunas
While your barbecue chicken recipe might encourage neighbors and friends to visit, you don't want to invite pests and bugs to enjoy the feast. Mosquitoes can put an end to the party and drive all your guests inside — or to their cars. Repel mosquitoes and other bugs by setting citronella candles around the tables and chairs where people relax. Your guests can rest easy knowing that they won't wake up covered in itchy red bumps the next day.
Mow the Lawn and Remove Major Rocks and Sticks
Lawn care is an important part of barbecue preparation, especially if you plan to organize games and invite kids. After you cut the grass, walk around the lawn and remove any rocks, glass, metal pieces, and branches that could trip someone. Kids love running around barefoot in the grass, and a misplaced nail could result in torn skin or even a trip to the emergency department.
While you're cleaning up the lawn, clear out your flower beds, shrubs, and garden to make them presentable. Grab a bucket and start pulling weeds, trimming down oversized branches, and clearing out dead plants. Your lawn will instantly look more appealing — without much effort on your part.
Set Up Games for the Kids (and the Adults)
Bean bag toss and giant Jenga games aren't just for kids. You might find that parents and other adults get just as competitive when you set up games for a barbecue. You can either create homemade games, like an obstacle course constructed from materials found inside your garage, or buy water balloons for a fight, giant ropes for tug-of-war, or backyard bowling sets. These games instantly add action to your party and will encourage people to interact and bond.
Break Out Your Christmas Lights to Set the Mood
There's good news if you haven't had time to put away your Christmas lights or want to pull them out early — you can still use them in the fall to create mood lighting for your parties and events. Find sets of lights at Christmas Lights Etc, then tuck the strings into Mason jars to make them look like fireflies. You can also wrap light strands around your trees.
Not only will these lights set the mood for your party, but they will also light up your backyard so that your guests can keep playing long after the sun goes down.
These four steps might seem small, but they're a great start and will set a welcoming mood for your next barbecue or get together. After this, it's all up to the chef to make sure that the burgers don't burn, that there are enough buns, and that the corn is fresh for a great meal.