Labor Day is right around the corner: if you haven’t started planning the perfect barbecue for your day off, then here’s your reminder to start!
Luckily, there’s still plenty of time to prepare for the 125th anniversary of this important holiday. Since the government first allowed this holiday in 1894, Americans have celebrated the labor we perform with parades, barbecues, and more than a few friends.
From party prep to outdoor games, here are the three ingredients you need to throw the backyard barbecue your friends and family will never forget.
1. Prep Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces
The first step to preparing for the ultimate party is maintaining your space. This includes mowing the lawn, setting up seating, and supplying areas of shade to protect your food.
If you plan on treating your lawn with fertilizer to make it lush and green for the event, be sure to limit the amount of nitrogen in the mix. After all, your fertilizer shouldn’t exceed four pounds of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. By finding just the right balance of water and fertilizer, you can be sure to have a rich lawn before Labor Day arrives. This can be tough to learn, but you’ll get the hang of it. You can always rely on online courses or resources to teach you more about lawn care for future parties. Just be sure to avoid harsh chemicals that might induce allergies in your guests!
Amidst all the fun you’ll have at your backyard bash, Labor Day is notorious for bad sunburns and heat exhaustion. Even if you supply bottles of sunscreen on every table, there’s no guarantee that your guests can stay outside all day. When you’re planning the perfect party, you need to ensure your home offers a reprieve from the sunshine. The last thing you want to deal with on this fun holiday is a trip to the hospital.
If you’re one of the many people who want to keep a good party contained, however, it’s worth extending your party indoors by designating a single room of your home as the party spot. Craft a cute sign with glitter glue or section off the rest of the home with decorations to keep the party rolling. For example, many homeowners usher guests into their refinished basement. Not only is this area of the house cooler, but it’s typically not used as much as the other areas of your home. Plus, a simple basement waterproofing job can offer you a 30% ROI for your home, making a finished basement a great investment for the frequent host. All you need is a comfy couch, some decorations, party games, and plenty of bottles of water to keep your guests cool and comfortable. And if you’re one of the many art collectors investing in the almost $6.4 billion market, make sure your favorite seasonal pieces are on display for your shindig.
2. Craft the Perfect Menu
No backyard barbecue is complete without a delectable menu. Whether you’re cooking indoors or firing up the grill, serving a crowd-pleasing, delicious menu is a necessity.
A great rule of thumb is to supply your guests with more cold foods than hot foods. In fact, Food stylist Denise Vivaldo recommends serving 80% cold foods and only 20% hot foods.
“This keeps you from a lot of last minute cooking when you should be mingling with your guests,” Vivaldo explains. Rely on easy-to-eat items like finger foods and snack plates will also ensure you’re able to mingle with your guests instead of slaving over cutlery. If you’re stuck trying to make up a cold menu that appeals to everyone, rely on these items:
- A delicious mango or peach salsa: Homemade salsas offer a dash of love that store-bought brands cannot hope to mimic. When you’re looking for a crowd please for children and adults alike, these fruit-forward options are a hit. Simply cube some tomatoes, mango, peaches, and peppers in a ratio that works for your tastes! Serve with your favorite tortilla chip for easy snacking the whole day through.
- Salads: Putting together a large bowl of salad is one of the easiest appetizers around. All you need to do is chop some lettuce to your desired side and load it up with tomatoes, mushrooms, cubed avocado, shredded carrot, hard-boiled eggs, and plenty of your favorite cheese. Toss this mixture before setting it out with a variety of dressings to choose from. Some of the biggest summer hits include balsamic vinaigrette, light Italian dressing, ranch, and olive oil.
- Hummus: Hummus has taken the western world by storm, mostly because of its diversity in flavor and ease of preparation. You only need chickpeas and some of your favorite spices to create the perfect bowl of hummus for any occasion. Blend your chickpeas with spices (especially garlic) and any other additions you’d like before serving them with bread, crackers, and veggies for a bit of variety.
But cold items shouldn’t be the only thing on your menu. After all, a barbecue is only a barbecue if you fire up the grill. Load up on steaks, salmon, chicken, pork, and hamburgers when you’re ready to show off in front of your guests. It might seem strange to serve fish or pork, but this pleasant change from the usual hot dogs and hamburgers will be a welcome surprise.
If you truly want to make a difference, don’t forget the spices! While you can’t go wrong with a well-grilled burger, you can take this simple option to the next level with a little sauce, a dash of spice, and plenty of fresh toppings. You’d be surprised to find that cider vinegar and Worcestershire can be put on virtually anything for a punchy flavor your guests will love.
For the vegetarians at your party, you should provide meat-alternatives. Be sure to offer veggie burgers, portobello mushroom burgers, and plenty of zucchini and squash to throw on the grill in their stead.
You should also provide a variety of beverage options. Did you know that almost 80% of the tea consumed in the U.S. is black tea? When you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser, serve some iced black tea with lemons for an added “punch.” In fact, iced teas are also a great base for your favorite punch!
3. Don’t forget the games
Even if you have a great menu and a beautiful space, you can’t neglect the entertainment. Luckily, there are plenty of party games that can be played by children and adults alike! Here are some of the simplest games you can play with a large crowd.
- Drop a Hint: This is one of the easiest games you can play since it only requires paper, a pen, and your own creativity. The idea of this game is to get your teammates to guess the word that’s been written on a piece of paper that you draw randomly from a bowl. You can even switch it up by having special categories! Guessing celebrities is one of the most popular options, but you can make it movies, songs, or any other category that strikes your fancy.
- Never have I ever: This game is typically touted as a naughty drinking game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Never have I ever is a simple game where people list things that they haven’t done. If the other players have done the activity you mentioned, then they put one finger down. If you want to make it particularly interesting, you can create a penalty or punishment for the player who loses first.
- DIY bowling: If you’re in the mood for a new lawn game, DIY bowling is great fun for the whole family. After all, adults who get more than seven hours of activity each week are said to have a longer life expectancy! Simply take some pool noodles and use sturdy toothpicks to fashion a lane on a flat surface. Fill old coke bottles with sand so they’re harder to knock down and get your favorite ball for a game everyone will enjoy.
Are you ready for Labor Day? If you’re one of the many last-minute planners out there, rely on these tips to impress your family and friends for years to come — or at least until next year!