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October 6, 2007

How To Throw The Perfect Barbecue

By Joanne Redder

You’ve decided to invite over all your friends over for an outdoor barbecue in your massive backyard or on the rooftop of your building. The thing is, you want to make certain that everyone has a good time and a full stomach, but you’re not absolutely certain about how to go about accomplishing that.

Well, with the right food, drinks and entertainment, your guests will be talking about your perfect barbecue for the rest of the summer.

Here’s what you’ll need to get and what you’ll need to do.

Own the perfect barbecue grill
Before you even bother inviting anyone, you need to get yourself the perfect barbecue grill. There’s much debate over whether charcoal or gas is best – charcoal gives food that great smoky flavor, but gas is easier to deal with and you can add smoky wood chips to enhance the flavor of food.

No matter which one you select, make sure it’s big enough to put a lot of food on simultaneously.

Buy enough food
Not only do you need to buy food, but you need to buy a whole lot of it. You also have to keep in mind that everyone has different tastes and while a perfect barbecue is, by definition, a meat eater’s thing, there are other foodstuffs that you should include.

Here’s what you may want to add to your shopping list:

-Hot dogs and buns
-Sausages and some sort of exotic bread (walnut, olive, jalapeno corn, etc.)
-Seafood (shrimp, scallops, salmon)
-Hamburgers and buns
-Vegetables for grilling (peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, corn on the cob)
-Condiments (ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, relish, mayonnaise, pickles)
-Seasonings and marinades (optional)
-Chips and dip
-Trail mix
-Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, nuts)
-Fruits (pineapples, peaches, mangos, berries, cherries, oranges, melons)

It is best to buy most of this food the day before your get together to ensure freshness and enough time to complete everything. The day of the party, remove the meat from the fridge an hour beforehand and let it rest on your kitchen counter.

As well, don’t think you’re limited to grilling just vegetables and meat at your perfect barbecue; throw some pineapple, peaches, melon, and mango onto the grill for some great treats.

And if you have a boatload of food leftover, give everyone a parting platter to take home. That way, you don’t end up with weeks of leftovers nor do you have to throw anything away.

Plenty of drinks
As with the food, all these different palates gathering in your backyard will also want different drinks to quench their thirst. But one common factor for all these perfect barbecue drinks is that they need to be cold.

Here’s what you may want to add to your shopping list:

-Variety of beer (domestic and foreign)
-Sodas (regular, diet)
-Juices (fruit and iced tea)
-Bottled water (spring and mineral)
-Mixed alcoholic drinks (Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade)
-Wine (red, white and rose)
-Daiquiri and margarita mix
-Plenty of ice

Other perfect barbecue necessities
Your party would be a bust if everyone was forced to eat with their hands and then throw everything on the floor. So although the food and drink is important, without the little necessities, you would have quite the mess on your hands.

Here’s what you may want to add to your shopping list:

-Garbage bags (place some all over the place)
-Plastic plates, utensils and cups (you don’t want to spend all night cleaning)
-Grilling tools (tongs, spatula, fork, grilling grid)
-Napkins and paper weights (place some napkins everywhere)
-Tiki torches and citronella candles (if the party goes on well into the evening)

Your guests may end up chatting the night away, but it’s a great idea to plan for some entertainment and give yourself some insurance that everyone will have a good time.

Music – It’s a great idea to have music playing in the background continuously. Make sure to instill a variety of songs so that everyone ends up bobbing their head to the music at some point. Hook your iPod up to the speakers and let the music play amid your perfect barbecue.

Games – From darts and badminton to “what if...” (a game in which you present guests with hypothetical situations), games will help guests become more comfortable with each other and allow for a better rapport.

Outdoor equipment
Your backyard (or rooftop) should contain items that ensure guests’ comfort and satisfaction, and the best way to prepare for your perfect barbecue is by hanging out in your backyard a few days before the event to see what goes on back there.

And, if necessary, get the following items:

-Chairs (place bunches of chairs in strategic places so that people can wander around and join circles and discussions)
-Tables (big ones to place the food on and small ones for guests to place their plates and drinks on)
-Overhead coverage - if the sun beats down on your backyard or the weather ends up being disagreeable, it’s a great idea to provide shaded areas or overhead coverage.

The perfect barbecue

It looks like you’ll have everything covered at your get together. Now all you need is a beautiful day and some awesome bug repellant.

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