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June 25th, 2012
5 Things Every Great Summer BBQ Must Have

If you're planning on throwing a backyard get together for you and your pals, there are a few guidelines every good BBQ host should follow in order to make sure his guests have a great time.

1. Serve Food Everyone Likes

Burgers are always a hit, and the good news is that they're hard to screw up. Slap some patties together and toss them on the grill, flip once, and serve. If insist on getting fancy, you can try stuffing the hamburger meat with onions beforehand. If anyone at your gathering likes their burgers deliciously rare, a neat trick you can try out is to put a small ice cube in the center of a patty just before you put it on the grill. This allows you to cook the burger long enough to develop a nice char around the outside, without making the inside dry.

Hot dogs. Easy, kids and adults love them, and they're dirt cheap. But don't cheap out too far and get those tiny little links, be a man and go for those plump ballpark franks.

If you want to do more than burgers, hot dogs or chicken wings, steaks are always a great option, but be aware that the price for your cookout will go up dramatically – and we both know that your friends aren't going to help pay for anything!

2. Beer & Beverages

If you want to avoid people constantly going in and out of your kitchen to dig around in your refrigerator for another can of stumble juice, get a decently sized cooler and load it up with ice. If you place it near the grill, it can conveniently double as a storage bin for the various meat products you've yet to put on the flames, as well as any vegetables or heat-sensitive condiments like mayonnaise.

Other than beer (yes, there are other things to drink, I was surprised too), consider having a reasonable stock of soda pop available for designated drivers, “recovering alcoholics” and other squares in attendance. If anyone is bringing their kids, a few juice boxes can go a long way to impress those desperate single mothers.

3. Plenty of Extras

This is a pretty basic idea, but failing to have all the necessary extras can ruin a barbecue. Double check that you have plenty of mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and whatever other condiments you might need. Prepare sliced tomatoes and lettuce beforehand and store them in the fridge until burgers are ready, and you'll find yourself saving a lot of time. And, perhaps the best piece of advice, get a ton of paper plates, Styrofoam cups, and plastic cutlery. Nothing will be at risk of getting broken and you won't have to spend four hours doing dishes. Smart.

4. Music & Entertainment

Unless you want the only sounds to be the flare of the grill and the sounds of sweaty men grunting at one another about sports or politics, you'll probably want to liven the mood with some tunes. You don't have to have a state of the art sound system. Keep the volume low enough for people to still be able to hear one another talking, since you're the host of a barbecue, not a struggling DJ at a sketchy night club.

Television for the most part should be avoided if your goal is to keep most of your guests outside, but if you don't mind everyone piling into your living room, sports are generally the go-to programming for backyard cookouts. Whatever you do, don't put on a movie – everyone will get sucked into it and simply wait for you to serve them. You're having a barbecue, not putting on dinner and a show.

5. Activities While Waiting For the Meat

We're not talking about foreplay here, we're talking about things that are actually fun. If you're lucky enough to have a swimming pool, that's pretty much the gold standard for a successful summer barbecue.

Consider simulating a bar environment and putting up a dart board somewhere in your back yard. Step it up a notch and get a little blackboard with chalk to hang next to it so that people can keep score. Nothing like combining drunk, hungry people with sharp projectiles.  If you want to kick it old school and introduce a game that most of your guests probably haven't played, horseshoe can be set up last minute .


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