Everything You Need to Host a Summer BBQ


Hosting a summer BBQ this weekend? We have you covered. You need the menu, shopping list, decor, and drinks to make it memorable!

We love to entertain all year round but the summer months are my favorite. Our backyard offers several different places to hang out with friends and family. We specifically designed each space for different moments. 

The garden and patio fire pit is for morning coffee and after-dinner drinks. 

The main sitting area is for appetizers, pre-dinner cocktails and watching momma hawks teaching babies to fly or hot air balloons take flight. 

The bar area is for gathering and loudly sharing stories while JJ grills. Often the same ones over and over. They never get old with family and good friends.

It doesn’t take much to create different spaces. A fire pit, built-in or above ground, a few chairs and some good friends and family create the perfect place for pre and post dinner gatherings.

How to Host A Summer BBQ

It’s finally summer and that means planning summer BBQs with good friends and family!

how to host a summer bbq

Organize Your Summer Party by Creating Lists

  • Create an Equipment List
    • Tables
    • Chairs
    • Coolers and Drink Tubs
    • Serving Dishes
    • Chargers, Placemats, Tablecloths
    • Plates, Napkins, Flatware
    • Glasses
    • Table Centerpieces
    • Decor
  • Create a Food Menu
    • Appetizers/Snacks
    • Dinner
    • Sides
    • Dessert
  • Create a Drink Menu
    • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Non-Alcoholic Drinks
  • Create a Grocery List
    • Organize your list by grocery sections. Dairy, Meats, Produce, Bakery, Drinks & Mixers, Miscellaneous Aisles
  • Create a To-Do List
    • Organize by day. (What can you do 3 days before, 2 days before, the day before … )
    • Plan the outside area including lawn, pruning, cleaning, watering one or two days in advance.
    • Assign tasks to others so you can enjoy the process, not resent it.

Shop My Favorite Summer BBQ Must Haves

Shop all my favorite summer party decor, games, fire pits, chairs, lanterns and more!

My Biggest Summer Hosting Tip

The single most important thing you can do to ensure a successful summer party? D-E-L-E-G-A-T-E. Assign projects to others. Kids, husbands, wives, friends, family members. Whomever. If you don’t, you will resent everyone around you and be in a foul mood before your party even begins. 

Be specific! Don’t say, “I could really use your help today.” I have a husband and I’ve raised three boys and I can tell you what that kind of vague planning gets you. Annoyed. 

Make a list of everything that needs to be done for the party to be a success. Leave nothing out. Even the smallest details should be added. (Peel carrots for veggie tray, get coolers out of the garage and hose them down, hang decor). Create a list that can be checked off and put a name next to every item on the list.

It’s tempting to do it all yourself so you can rake in all the credit but it isn’t worth it. Share in the responsibility and share in the accolades. It’s way more fun! Trust me, I’ve tried it both ways.

Must Haves for Hosting a Summer BBQ

1. After Sunset, Ambiance Lighting

Lighting is everything after the sun sets. It invites your guests to stay awhile and continue the fun. My favorite way to light our backyard or really anyone’s, are with overhead string lights or flickering candles in pretty lanterns. Make sure your outdoor entertaining area is well lit so people stay and play.

2. An Outdoor Fire for Gathering

My second most favorite way to light up the evening? An outdoor fire. To be fair, it’s actually tied for first with overhead lighting. Not only does it create a cozy and warm place to sit, but it’s loaded with nostalgic memories of campfires from nearly everyone’s youth. It’s the perfect place to relax and share stories.

3. Buckets of Bug Spray

If you live anywhere outside of the west coast, this is an absolute must if you plan to be outside your screened-in porch. Place a small container in your party area filled with bottles of bug spray to keep your guests from itching the night away.

4. Drinks on Ice

Whatever fills your bucket. For me, it’s chardonnay. For JJ, it’s beer. I love these big beverage tubs filled with ice and drinks. They look nice and they display the drinks in a way that’s easy to see and get to. 

Summer Party Drink Tubs

While I love a good drink bucket, if it’s too hot, the ice will all melt, and condensation will cause puddles and hot beverages. Nobody wants that! Get yourself a nice-looking cooler for those super-steamy summer days when you entertain.

5. Great Music for Every Hour

A good party ALWAYS has good music. I like to start with some country music, or something a little more mellow and slowly ramp up as the night progresses. The hope is always a little dancing when the sun goes down, and the cocktails have kicked in. You can check out some of our favorite party playlists on Spotify. JS Feelin’ Country, JS Country Feeling 2022, JS Summer BBQ, or Colton’s Playlist Bumps, which mixes the old with the new in the most fabulous way (Rated Explicit).

If you don’t have an outside sound system, you can get a good portable speaker that will do the trick. We’ve tried several, and this one by Bose is our favorite.

6. Fun Outdoor Games

When we gather with friends and family there are always games. In the summer it’s all about the outdoor fun. Cornhole, bocce ball, croquet and our new favorite bucket golf. It’s easier to make small talk while distracted by some good old fashioned fun.

7. Good Food for Good People

The best summer BBQs are where your guests return for seconds and ask for recipes. I’ve got you covered! Check out my favorite Summer BBQ menu and recipes!

Summer BBQ Recipes & Side Dishes

That’s everything you need to host a fabulous summer BBQ! Remember, a great party is in the smallest details that evoke emotion without anyone even realizing what is happening. Good lighting, great music, delicious food and drinks, and a campfire at the end of the night will leave your guests talking about your party for months to come.

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