How to Plan Your Labor-Day BBQ

By Mac McCarthy, Zenergo

Throwing a BBQ this holiday weekend? It’s the end of summer, a perfect time to celebrate, reminisce, spend time with friends while the weather is still great.

If you invite more than a handful of people, a bit of planning and organizing can be a big help in guaranteeing your BBQ will turn out great. Let me recommend a social manager site like Zenergo.com as a good way to organize: You can send invites, and you and your guests post pictures after the BBQ for all to enjoy.

Here are a few tips to ensure a great, well-run event:

* Send invites right away! The RSVPs will tell you how much food and drink you’ll need to get. Even if you plan to handle RSVPs personally or by phone, at least you’ll get on their calendars.

* Decide on the menu, and let your guests know. It can be simple and straightforward — “Meat, all kinds, on the barbie! And drinks!” Or you can get fancy, interesting, inventive – maybe have a theme — “Goodbye Summer, We’ll Miss You!”

* Let guests know what they can bring or contribute. Many people enjoy it more if they can help out in some way.

* Where? Your back yard? The local park? (Does the local park make you sign up for a space, or is it first-come first-serve, in which case send the kids over early to hold a good spot.)

* Hours? All day and well into the evening? Lunch only? Mid-afternoon to early evening? Let people know what to expect.

* Gather your gear: BBQ, instruments, tables, chairs enough for everyone, condiments, utensils, plates and glasses, beverages for all (remember the kids). Have reserves because you’ll run out of *something,* you can be sure!

* Plan the area layout: Where goes the BBQ? Closer to the house/kitchen to make it easy to carry food and utensils out and dirty dishes back; but not too close so you don’t fill the house with smoke (or flames!). Where to put the Tables? Make sure at last some tables and chairs are in the shade, please! Put the kids farther away from the grill and the food table, for safety’s sake. Think about the flow — people come here to pick up plates, there to get the cooked food, here for condiments, there for appetizers, and over there for tables and chairs, and where are the drinks?

* Prep the area: Does the grass need mowing? The yard need cleanup? (That’s what kids are made for!) Do your guests need signs posted pointing to the party location?

* Things to Do: Games for the kids, lawn games, party games. What about the adults? Do they like an active party, with lots of things to do? Or do they prefer to sit around, drink, eat, chat, and enjoy the peace and quiet?

* Practice: The day of BBQ isn’t the time to start learning how your brand-new rocket-science cooking system works – or how to BBQ if you’ve never done it before! If you need practice — then practice! Throw a small BBQ event for yourself and your family first, work the kinks out….!

* Weather: Will it be an issue? If so, have a Plan B. If it’s hot and sunny, is there enough shade?, consider a pop-up shade tent or canopy.

* Decorations, or no? Lots of ways to go here: Bright table cloths, balloons, hanging decorations from the trees, stapling them to the house — even wearing decorative hats, and aprons with funny sayings.

* Music? A CD player can add nice background ambience, as long as it’s not too loud — nor too experimental!

* Leftovers! Remember to have containers you guests can take home….!

* Here’s an example of a BBQ event created on Zenergo. You can put as many details as you like, including a map of the location if needed. It’s free, it’s easy, give it a try!

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