How to Throw the Perfect Backyard Barbecue

When the weather’s warm and the days are long, nothing beats getting together with close friends and family for a backyard barbecue. A simple BBQ party seems straightforward, but there are definitely things that can go wrong. This ColourTree guide to backyard barbecues will cover the essentials for throwing the perfect outdoor party.

Backyard Barbecue Essentials

Lighting and Décor

If you’re planning an all-day BBQ that stretches into the evening, you’ll need outdoor lighting. Hand strung lights on a fence or the side of the house provide great ambiance and tiki torches or citronella candles help keep the bugs away. Some thoughtful decorations – color-coordinated tablecloths and napkins or a few banners – turns a group of people eating hot dogs in your backyard into a real party.


Ice is the second most important thing every backyard barbecue needs (the most important thing is next on the list!). Without ice, you risk having someone go inside the house to the fridge every time they want a drink. With a cooler full of ice, sodas, beers, water, juice – and any snacks that need to be chilled – are readily accessible for everyone at the BBQ.

The Grill

You can’t have an outdoor BBQ without a grill! Whether a high-tech propane-powered masterpiece or a classic charcoal grill, your guests will be expecting food cooked over a fire. And no matter which type you have, make sure your grill is big enough to accommodate all the food you plan to cook. And just as essential as the grill is the fuel – don’t forget the propane or charcoal! Ensure you have necessary items to get the fire started, too, if you’re using charcoal. Remember to practice good grill safety. Don’t let the flames on the grill get out of control. Keep a spray bottle with water ready to manage those flames.

food on the grill at a backyard bbq

Planning Your Food

To ensure everything is ready to eat at the right time, prepare your side dishes before everyone arrives. Or ask your guests to bring side dishes to save you some hassle. Plan out your grilling as well. Start with whatever takes the longest, like vegetables, and leave food with short cooking times until the end. Also, consider how you’ll set out the food. Try to keep the snacks and drinks away from the grilling area, so people don’t congregate near the grill master while they’re at work.

Games and Entertainment

The excitement with the grill, the food, and the drinks might not be enough to keep everyone busy all day, especially not for kids. Keep everyone entertained with inexpensive lawn games like bocce ball or cornhole. A Bluetooth speaker blasting some feel-good tunes wouldn’t hurt either.

Bug Repellent

Outdoor barbecues can go downhill fast if you have a bug problem. Sure, you accept the small unpleasantries that come with having a party outside, including bugs. But you’d rather not have them swarming constantly around your guests and your food if you can help it. So remind your guests to bring bug spray or make some available at the party.

Prepping Your Backyard for a BBQ

If you’re throwing a barbecue in your yard or garden, you want it to be party-ready. You’d be surprised how far some basic landscaping and cleaning up clutter can go. Use these tips to create the perfect outdoor atmosphere for your barbecue.

Provide enough seating

Most of the time, your yard or patio is just for you and your family, so you only need a few chairs and maybe a table. But with guests coming for your barbecue party, you’ll need more places to sit. Plan your seating in advance so you’re not scrambling at the last minute, pulling dining room chairs from inside. Benches are a good option because they’re inexpensive and you can place them on the end of a table if needed.

Basic landscaping

You don’t have to trim your hedges into wild shapes or install a koi pond in your backyard. But some simple cleanup is in order – mow the grass, pull the weeds, and trim any dangerously low branches. If you have any rough areas of your yard that you’d like to turn into entertaining space, you can always put down artificial turf. Turf is less maintenance than real grass and it instantly makes your outdoor space look presentable.?

Create plenty of shade

People love eating outside, but they don’t love the sun beating down on them. To keep your barbecue guests more comfortable and help prevent sunburns, put up a shade shelter in your backyard. Shade sails are great for backyard BBQ’s because they block the sun and don’t get in your guests’ way. Once a shade sail is set up, there’s no readjusting you have to do, nor will it blow over in the wind. You’ll want a shade near the eating area and perhaps in another spot in your yard, so your guests have more than one shady place to gather during the barbecue.

shade sails at a backyard bbq

Keep your barbecue private

Unless you’ve invited your neighbors to your barbecue, you don’t want them to be able to see the whole party. Your guests probably wouldn’t like being spied on either. If you want to keep your barbecue private, the best way is with a fence. But fences come in all shapes and sizes, or you might not have time to build one before the party. If you have a chain-link or wrought-iron fence, you can install a fence screen to create more privacy.

If you don’t have a fence and don’t want to build one, you can put up a privacy screen instead. One great privacy screen solution is a lattice or folding screen covered with artificial ivy. Not only does the ivy help block your neighbors from view, but it also ups the esthetic of your outdoor space.

artificial ivy rolls add ambiance to a backyard bbq

Throw the Perfect Outdoor Barbecue

With these essentials, tips, and outdoor BBQ décor ideas, you’re on your way to planning the perfect backyard party. Just remember the most important part of planning a barbecue – have fun!

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