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Planning the Best Backyard BBQ Bash or Event

Outdoor BBQBackyard barbecuing is one the most distinctly cherished American activities around, and it is a fun and great way to spend a beautiful day with friends and family. Planning a backyard gathering can be a challenging task, especially if you are expecting a large number of guests. Big events, like Fourth of July celebrations and Super Bowl parties can prove to be epic challenges for their hosts.

If you are thinking of holding a backyard BBQ or gathering, keep in mind that good planning is the key to making the whole experience enjoyable and as hassle free as possible. Being prepared is the number one priority when hosting these large events.


Invitations are a great way to extend a warm and personal welcome, and to also have individuals rsvp to get a head count for supplies. If you’ve created invitations, send them off as early as possible. A week in advanced is a good rule of thumb. This way you allow ample time for responses and for attendees to make plans.  Make sure that you include clear directions to your place, and a map if possible. An effective and free way to send out invitations is through e-vites, which emails all your guests and allows them to respond instantly.  Also, provide any special instructions, like what they should wear or bring, for example attire/items for themed parties. It also customary if required to notify guests whether or not they should b.y.o.b (bring your own beverage/beer etc).

Always Plan for Rain

No one wants to create fancy invitations and make elaborate plans for a backyard party only to have it ruined by unexpected rain. Invest in a few pop-up canopies. They can be pricey, but they’ll save you a lot of pain and can save your event in the long run. Check the weather forecasts a couple of days ahead of time, so that you have a clear idea of how weather-proof the party will be, and announce that the party will be held “rain or shine” on your invitations.

A good back-up party space in the event of rain is the garage. So prior to the party, clean out the garage and maybe setup some decorations and chairs in there. Even if it doesn’t rain, it will provide guests with a nice extra space in which to mingle.

Get the Headcount Right

Or as accurate as you can. Once you’ve sent out your invitations, follow up with phone calls or emails to find out approximately how many guests you should expect at the gathering. It’s never fun when you spend large sums of money expecting a large number of guests and then have only a quarter of these supposed guests show up.

Since most of the time, the headcount will be up in the air, it’s good to plan for both outcomes. For part of the menu, buy food and beverages that could be saved for later use if not consumed during the party. Serve fresh food and also have back-up frozen food. If more people show up than expected, you’ll be covered.  This way if not as many people show up as expected, you won’t have wasted anything.

Getting Drunk at Your Own Party

Never do this, it’s bad practice, and leaves a bad impression on your guests. Getting completely wasted at your own backyard party is one of the best ways to ensure wasted food, unhappy and/or confused guests, damaged equipment and difficulty performing basic party hosting tasks.

bbq foodBuying Food

To estimate how much food to buy, think of the largest meal you can eat in one sitting, which is about 1.5 lbs, and multiply it by the approximate head count you came up with after following up on your invitations. That’ll tell you how many pounds of food to buy for one meal. Adjust for the number of meals you expect to serve. Also, adjust for the number of expected kids, who usually eat about half as much.  One tip is if you are not anticipating a sit down mean, then to have a variety of snacks, appetizers, and inexpensive BBQ items such as wings, hot dogs or grilled veggies.


If grilled meat is the bread of a classic backyard BBQ, beer is definitely the butter. Make sure to have plenty of back-up packs of beer so that no one has to leave on a run to buy more. As a host, you could be liable for any drunk-related accidents that might occur during mid-night beer runs. Also, have some extra fridge space or coolers with plenty of ice so that people who bring warm/room-temperature beer can have a place to store it.  It’s also customary to take into account non alcoholic drinkers by providing alternative beverages.

And at the end of the party, don’t let anyone drive home drunk. Set up couches, pillows and blankets for people to crash if they need to, arrange for someone (possibly you) to give drunk guests rides home, or set some money aside for complimentary cabs.

Label Things

Label coolers and other food containers with tags telling people what’s inside, i.e. “Beer”, “water,” “burger meat patties”, “soda” etc. Such a simple task can help save a lot of time and trouble. It’ll help keep things organized and your event much more enjoyable.

Make the House Kid-Proof

If you plan on having guests with children over, it’s a good idea to plan and prepare your place.

Remove any breakable objects from the coffee tables, fence off areas that you don’t want kids to go on, and otherwise set up the house so that it is as kid-friendly/kid-proof as possible. If you care about your rugs and carpets, cover them up or store them in the closet for the time being. Kids, and even adults, running from the yard into the house can track in a lot of dirt and debris that could be a hassle cleaning up after.  Don’t hesitate to ask guests to remove their shoes before entering, and providing slippers can help reduce the clean up afterwards.


If you are expecting a really large number of people at your backyard gathering, it might be a good idea to rent a couple of port-o-johns. These will be used mostly by the men, and thus leave the indoor bathrooms available for the women.  Even if you are only entertaining a few guests, prepare your bathroom with extra hand towels, soap and toilet paper.

Things to do Ahead of Time

  1. Clean the house. Make it as presentable as you want it to be, and if possible, empty out the garage to provide extra party space.
  2. Buy extra rolls of toilet paper, set up fresh towels and soap.
  3. Restock paper towels, napkins and tissues.
  4. Empty trash containers and replace garbage liners. Set up a few extra trash cans out in the yard.
  5. Mow the lawn and clean up the walk ways, patio furniture, and decks.
  6. Make sure the stereo system works and is ready to go.
  7. Set up chairs, tables and patio furniture before hand, and have some extra furniture readily available.
  8. Replace broken light bulbs with new working ones.
  9. Have ashtrays set up on every table.
  10. Make sure the grill works. Test it out and make any repairs at least a day in advanced. Test it before guests arrive also, to make sure everything is running smooth.

Remember to Relax

Finally, keep in mind that everything isn’t always going to go perfect or to plan, and that that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Don’t let the small things rain on your parade, like a sauce stain on a table cloth or a burnt hot dog. Keep your cool and enjoy yourself. If you made all of the above suggested preparations, this last bit of advice shouldn’t be very hard to follow.


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Wow! Great thinking!

Wow! Great thinking!

Thanks for reading! We hope

Thanks for reading! We hope you found this article helpful for future party planning. Cheers!

Great party advice! One of my

Great party advice! One of my clients (I'm a bartender for hire) had a big backyard luau with tikis and everything. I referenced your site for decor ideas, thanks!

Thank you for your comment!

Thank you for your comment! We are so glad that your found our site useful...that's what we're here for. Hopefully you continue to use us for inspiration in your bartending endeavors. We look forward to helping you and Good luck!

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