Planning on throwing a BBQ this Summer to relax and with friends and family? The 4th of July might be the perfect time for you to do so! Planning a BBQ can get a little stressful, so here are some tips to help you get started:

Stick to a theme

Use a theme for decorating and for planning some of the dishes that you’re going to serve. Since it is the 4th of July, just stick with red, white, and blue if you want to keep it simple. Another fun theme to consider since it’s the summer season is a pool party with a patriotic theme. Simple and cheap American flag decorations such as balloons, streamers, and tablecloths can be found at your local party supply store or dollar store. 

Pick your menu

Plan ahead so that you know what kind of menu you want for your party and how many people you plan to invite so that you can prepare accordingly. Start planning your party by deciding on what kind of entrees to serve. While most BBQs feature hamburgers and hot dogs, you might want to offer a few more options because of the holiday. A fun idea would be to make a hot dog or a hamburger bar so that guests can customize their food to their liking. Ribs are a good option as well, but if you plan on serving meat that’s more expensive than hamburgers or hot dogs, then consider asking guests to help with other items. More often than not, your guests will be happy to help by bringing side dishes, utensils, drinks, or desserts. If you have guests that request low-carb keto diets, be sure to accommodate their requests by preparing healthy sides that can accompany hamburgers and hot dogs. Also, it is possible that you might have guests that are classified as either vegetarians or vegans, which is why having plant-based meals and sides can make your party more inclusive.

An option available if you don’t want to prepare all of the food on your own would be to contact a catering company who can bring in a customized BBQ selection. A local catering company can alleviate the stress of setting up your BBQ and allow you to relax and enjoy the party rather than be sweating over the grill. Foodini’s, located at the Jersey Shore, even offers tents, chairs, and table rentals.

Patriotic drinks

Get creative with some festive drinks to WOW your guests. Slushies and smoothies are a great way to cool down in the heat, and super easy to make fit your theme with some fruit or food dye. If you have kids, then consider using a small inflatable pool that’s filled with ice and drinks that you put on a table. Once the drinks are gone, you can then add more water so that children can play in the pool while the adults talk or play games. 

The icing on the cake

Desserts are another easy way to tie in your theme. Fresh berries work well if you want to maintain a healthy component. A patriotic fruit display of blueberries, strawberries, and bananas arranged to look like the flag will surely be Instagram ready. You can also set up dessert pizzas made with yogurt as the sauce. Everyone can add their own fresh fruit ingredients along with a few fun toppings, such as sprinkles or candies. 

BBQs are meant to be fun for guests and hosts alike, so don’t try to take on more than you can handle! Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or family for help, or contact a catering company who has done this a million times before.

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- Chef John Deatcher

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