No matter the season or the shindig, there are certain elements you need in order to have a quality backyard gathering.
Optimal seating, a brand new grill, the perfect burger-dressing station, and some ice cold drinks may set the stage for some while a healthy game of volleyball, some homemade tequila pops, and a cushy spot in the shade make it for others.
Check out our nine top recommendations below to make sure your next soiree gets 5 stars:
Perfect pellet grill
Every modern backyard barbecue needs a pellet grill and the good news is there are many excellent choices available. However, the best ones utilize a Green Mountain Davy Crockett Grill, in our opinion, as it’s highly portable for placing exactly where you wish in the yard — or even taking it with you to a friend’s barbecue, setting up at a campsite, or tailgating at the game.
It also features a thermal sensor called ‘Sense-Mate’, which monitors your grill temperature for you at all times. Additionally, it has a meat probe to ensure your meat is cooked thoroughly, and a handy convenience tray for the next batch to go on.
Another must-have for a festive feast is a cushy seating area. Make sure it’s easy enough to keep clean with a soapy sponge and warm water, and take good care of it by bringing soft cushions in before rain storms and during the winter.
Adirondack-style wooden seating is always a win, as are quality picnic tables, wicker chairs, and even lawn chairs with a variety of easy-to-assemble tables. If you really want to go all-out, get a set of patio furniture with lounge cushions like a porch swing, chaise, and loveseat set, etc. Number 11 of this series is a perfect example, we think!
Cold drinks and/or a dispenser with hibiscus blooms
Whether you make a mean batch of sangrias, or just want to sit out some fresh fruit-infused water, a nice beverage dispenser or two should do the trick. Guests can refill their glasses as they wish, and at the bottom of each pretty glass can be a beautiful and unique blooming hibiscus flower. They’re sold in affordable 8 oz. boxes.
Aside from the sangria in the dispenser, you may want to offer a few different kinds of bottled drinks. Ice cold bottles of beer, some kombucha, tasty canned cocktails, and maybe some root beer or hard cider would be an ideal selection. If there are kids at the party, of course, there should be something kid-friendly like apple juice or kiddie cocktails as well.
Fully-stocked condiment station
Separate from the actual table and the extended grill area should be an impressively stocked Condiment Station. Otherwise called a Burger Station, Dressing Station, Taco Creation Station, etc., this space should be set up to make the perfect burger at the best backyard barbecue parties.
Every condiment from ketchup to hot sauce should be available, as well as cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, and more. Anything you can imagine your guests might like on their burger should be in plentiful supply here — as well as plenty of clean, reusable silverware, cloth napkins (if you can do it, it’s better than wasting paper napkins), and compostable plates. Be creative!
Let there be no doubt what belongs in those containers. Take large prepared buckets, pails, boxes, or other sturdy containers and place identifying stickers like this across their centers. If you prefer, you could also place lettering like this on the containers to spell out the words instead. Either way, this should slow down the overflowing of the garbage bins and the amount of waste accumulating during the party.
If you have room, games like volleyball, flag football, or badminton are always a blast. But for the smaller-yarded, a little more creativity is in order. Whether it’s Oversized Scrabble, Cornhole, Bocce ball, or a nice limbo line, have some games ready while guests are waiting to eat, or for after the food is gone.
Other options include outdoor yard twister, Giant Jenga, a water balloon toss, beer pong, ring toss or horseshoes, a hula hoop competition, or playing with a giant bubble wand. Is your crowd a little more relaxed? Set up an outdoor movie theater and play a favorite film when it gets dark, complete with homemade popcorn and pop for everyone!
Citronella tiki torches or other mosquito repellent
If you like the smell of citronella, put out several tiki torches to help repel the evening’s biting creatures — but keep in mind inhaling large amounts of citronella isn’t good, and they also only repel the pests in their close vicinity. So you may want to set out an alternative like DEET-free BugBand as well. You can apply some as a lotion or wear it as a wristband.
A way to stay cool
If there’s no pool available and the shady trees are sparse, see if you can hook up an outdoor misting fan or two. Many are highly effective if placed correctly. You can also set up your own homemade shade with shade sails or similar shady strategies like these. Homemade boozy popsicles or natural fruity pops can also help to keep folks cool in a pinch.
Consider the perfect playlist for the vibe and the age group/s you’ve got gathered. Is it Earth, Wind and Fire, the Commodores, and Stevie Wonder for your tribe? Or maybe it’s more Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and Billie Eilish? Whatever the tunes, make sure you’ve got enough to last the length of your party without repeating. You may actually want to have 2 or 3 playlists for different times, i.e. something subtle like jazz or other instrumental tunes for when you’re eating, and dance music for later in the evening.
So there ya have it — our nine top things you need to have in your backyard before your next barbecue takes place. What are your thoughts? Do you have them all? Do you have other items you feel are more important for your gatherings? Share your ideas in the comments with us, and happy grilling!