Fiesta Friday - Summer Backyard Barbecues

summer bbq collageHot BBQ + cold drinks = a good time! For laid-back, no-fuss entertaining, it's hard to beat a backyard barbecue. With easy, fun dishes and activities for both kids and adults, your party is destined to become and instant classic.

Get The Party Started
Have the kids cut Popsicle shapes from colored construction paper, then glue the cutouts to Popsicle sticks after you've written in the barbecue details.

How about this perfect print-and-mail template from Real Simple, it even has a line for what guests can bring to round out the refreshments.

Cleverness at Maggie's Dinner Dates who used condiment bottles to invite friends to their bash.

Setting The Scene
Take a tip from Instructables and turn kettle grills into planters. Fill the grill to the top with soil, and add whichever flower or plant of your choice just as you would in a regular flower pot. Don't cover with the lid, instead prop it against the bottom of the grill.

Skip the cooler and fill a child's wagon with ice and stock it with sodas, beer, and bottled water. Plus, the wagon can be rolled around for a bit of curbside service!

Take another tip from the party planning gurus in the Gospel According to Real Simple:Celebrations; set out utensils and napkins in rinsed Campbell's soup cans, keeping everything orderly and adding a little more color to your spread. Just make sure that the rims don't have any jagged edges.

Bypass the checkered tablecloth and paper plates. A long sheet of white butcher paper is the ultimate table covering. Set out cups of crayons like they do at the restaurants and let guests add to the decor. These retro serving baskets lined with parchment paper make fun and reusable serving plates. I've purchased mine at our local Party City. If you insist on paper plates, nestle them into an upturned Frisbee for a sturdier surface and a fun take-home favor.

This hourglass beverage jar from Sur La Table has a 2-gallon capacity that is perfect for lemonade, sangria and more.

What To Do
Sorry, y'all, not everyone wants to just sit around, especially with kids involved. Another great idea outlined in Real Simple: Celebrations, keep the kids occupied by setting up a lemonade stand. Place a few dishes of quarters around so adults can patronize the stand as often as they like.

The classics never go out of style. Set up lawn games like croquet and badminton, and nothing beats water balloons and sidewalk chalk.

The Munchies
Yes, hot dogs and hamburgers are a given, but take standard fare to another level. Set up a flavored butter bar for your corn on the cob. Check out BHG's slide show of exotic ways to jazz up your ears with blends like curry powder and nuts.

I love food stations; less work for me and another way to keep guests engaged. Have a fruit kabob station; guarantee kids will eat their fruit. Use Popsicle sticks for little ones, older kids and adults can use regular skewers.

Have a S'more station with a twist; indulge in toppings that allow guest to top off with one more goody. Before sandwiching with the second graham-cracker square, Sunset.com recommends to try sliced strawberries, bananas, peanut butter, and even caramel.

Send Them Home With A Smile
Back at Maggie's Dinner Dates, she bought BBQ oven mitts(a score at Michael's), rolled them up tightly and tied with a thick ribbon. Placed in the tin buckets on the table they make perfect centerpieces.

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