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Now that the warm weather has finally arrived, it’s time to fire up the grill and get the gang together.  Whether you’re entertaining 10 guests or 20, you want to make sure everyone has a great time.  Here are our tips for giving your guests an unforgettable experience.

Choose a theme

Spice up your next BBQ by incorporating a festive theme.  Fun ideas include a Hawaiian luau, Mexican fiesta or something time-based like an 80’s throwback affair.  Decorate your yard with colorful centerpieces, tablecloths and any other props that fit your theme.  Let your guests know what you have in mind and ask them to dress the part.  It will be fun to see what they come up with.

Buy enough food

This is a no-brainer but make sure you have enough food to feed all your guests.  It’s better to send them home with a to-go plate than an empty stomach.  Create a list of expected guests and plan your menu accordingly.  Traditional BBQ staples such as hamburgers, hot dogs and kabobs cook quickly and are an inexpensive way to feed a crowd.  Alternatively, you can purchase cheaper cuts of meat such as chicken legs and thighs, pork shoulders or chuck steak which are all perfect for grilling.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up a pack of veggie burgers for your vegan friends.

Start prepping the night before

One of the most stressful parts of hosting an event is trying to get everything done before your guests arrive.  Keep your anxiety in check by starting your to-do list the night before.  Season your meat, prepare your side dishes and bake any desserts you plan to serve at the BBQ.  The only thing you want to save for the day of is the actual grilling.

Frozen fruit ice cubes

Forget using boring ice cubes to cool down your drinks, jazz things up by freezing pieces of fruit inside for a healthy, sweet treat.  Simply place your favorite fruits in an ice tray, fill it with water and stick it in the freezer.  When your guests are ready for an ice-cold beverage just pop them out of the tray and into a cup.

Pick a signature drink

What’s a party without a signature cocktail?  Pitcher drinks are easy to make and can serve a large group without the help of a bartender.  Party favorites include mojitos, margaritas and sangria but go with whatever tickles your fancy.  For extra style points, you can pick up a box of cocktail umbrellas from your local party store.

Keep your side dishes cold

Nobody wants to eat potato salad that’s been sitting in the hot sun all day.  Keep your side dishes and condiments cold by filling a kiddie pool with ice and packing the items inside.  You can purchase a hard plastic one for under 20 bucks at Toys “R” Us.  This will give you more space to lay out your goodies than if you used a regular cooler.  Just be sure to place the pool on top of a table so no one accidentally steps in it.

Provide entertainment

Music is a great way to keep your guests entertained while they’re waiting for their food to be ready.  Get them on the dance floor by hiring a DJ or creating your own music playlist.  Depending on the size of your yard, you can also setup a few games.  Pinterest is full of outdoor games you can DIY including giant Jenga, lawn Twister and backyard bowling.  For those short on space, set out a deck of cards or dominoes and let the games begin.

Keep the mosquitoes away

There’s nothing more annoying than swatting away bugs every two seconds.  Since mosquitoes like to breed in standing water, eliminate their chance to do so by emptying any areas where water accumulates.  This includes trash cans, pool covers, flowerpots, etc.  Less chances to breed means less mosquitoes in your area.  Mosquitoes also tend to be more active between dusk and dawn so schedule your BBQ during the day.  As a final layer of protection, you can provide a few bottles of bug repellent for your guests.

Say cheese!

Photo booths are a fun addition to any party but can be a little pricey to rent.  Luckily, it doesn’t cost much to create your own.  The main things you need are a device with a camera, photo booth software like dslrBooth or Sparkbooth and of course, props.  Amazon is full of creative, budget-friendly options such as emojis, mustaches, glasses, etc.  Chances are these pictures will end up online so don’t forget to create a special hashtag for your event.  This will make it easier to see what your guests were up to and relive the memories.