How to Hold a Chilled Summer BBQ
The Great British barbecue always played a starring role in our summers, and this year our garden gatherings are set to be more special than ever. Forget burnt sausages and claggy supermarket coleslaw, here’s your license to grill in spectacular and stylish fashion…
The secret to a great barbecue is for everyone to kick back and relax – and that includes you! Even though you are hosting, make sure you don’t get stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is sunning themselves. To avoid this, prepare as much as you can in advance, from laying the tables to getting all the food and drink ready.
Luckily, lots of barbecue food can be prepped ahead of time and there are a multitude of easy barbecue recipes to pick from. If you are making burgers, do them the night before so they have time to firm up in the fridge. Go for a classic beef burger or mix things up with lamb and mint patties. You could also marinade chicken drumsticks on the eve of the barbecue (think ketchup, maple syrup and chipotle chilli flakes for something sweet and smokey). Ratatouille veggie skewers can easily be assembled 24 hours in advance. Just douse a mixture of chopped peppers, onions, tomatoes and courgettes in olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and chopped basil, and put them on skewers.
Top tip: A good time - and effort-saving hack if you are cooking joints of meat, chicken on the bone or anything else that needs a decent amount of cooking is to start it off in a hot oven and then char it up on the barbecue to finish. To get your grill ship-shape before cooking, you can heat it slightly then clean with a cut-up lemon dipped in rock salt.
Of course, one element of your summer barbecue that will definitely need to be done in advance is the decorations. If you are a keen gardener, then most likely there’ll be bright blooms providing a stunning backdrop to your gathering. Whether you do have this kind of natural floral scene or not, adding balloons, garlands and bunting will add fresh sparkle to a familiar outdoor space. Our Summer Collections is perfect for every celebration!
Top tip: If your barbecue is an evening affair, place these gorgeous solar globe lanterns and cork bottle lights around the garden to bring that magical atmosphere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to your party.
Put plenty of thought into your party table to make sure it is a pretty focal point for your barbecue. We always think you can’t go wrong with keeping things simple. A rose gold runner adorned with small vases holding wild flowers such as daisies and bluebells, plus one of our botanical eucalyptus garlands will look absolutely beautiful.
Top tip: Remember, the garland is reusable so can be brought out for many a barbecue. And when it comes to the tableware, make sure you go for stuff you can also use time and time again. It’s a summer for celebrations, after all! A peach serving plate, melamine plates and embossed jug will all bring joy to your life in the months ahead.
What’s a summer barbecue party without your favourite tunes blasting out for everyone to enjoy? Go simple and put together a barbecue playlist of summer hits – and ask your guests to request their own favourites. If you really want to bring a festival vibe to your garden and you know a friend who could oblige, get him or her to DJ or play some songs on the guitar.
Don’t shuttle forward and back to the fridge to fetch drinks, fill one of these palm tree coolers (or a paddling pool), with ice and water to keep canned and bottle drinks cool and conveniently to-hand while you eat. If you’re drinking cocktails or cordials, this Kilner drinks dispenser holds up to five litres, and looks pretty filled with pastel punches, ice and sliced citrus fruit.
Top tip: We love a themed summer party – and a tropical celebration is one that’s a no-brainer for when the sun is shining. Our blog on throwing a Hawaiian-themed bash is packed with great ideas and tips, including on setting up your own tiki bar and the cocktails that you need to serve up from it.
Are you the kind of person that needs organised fun in their life and at their parties? If you do then you will want some communal games on offer for everyone to play once drinks and food have been consumed. What you set up for people to play will depend on how much space you have. Setting up boules or a game of bat and ball means people can start games under their own speed, or play ‘winner stays on’ to make it competitive. If you want everyone to get involved and have the room, rounders is the one to go for.
Top tip: If it’s a particularly hot day and your guests are up for a laugh – and don’t mind getting a bit wet, then play the water balloon dash game. Put people in pairs and get them to stand back-to-back with their arms interlocked. Then place a water balloons in-between their backs and when everyone is ready start the race. The pairs must get to the finish line without their balloon bursting – if it does they must head back to starting line and get a new balloon put down their backs! For more water party game ideas, go here.
A fuss-free but super-fun pudding for a summer barbecue is that old favourite, toasted marshmallows. Why not also try adding summer fruits such as pineapple and peach? Chop up your chosen fruits and set up ahead of time in these scalloped jars with pink scoops, so that all that’s left to do is for each person to assemble their own skewer and get grilling.
Top tip: Soak wooden skewers in water beforehand to stop them from burning, or buy metal ones so that they can be re-used.