There’s nothing quite like a festive backyard grill session with family and friends over the summer months. If you’re looking for a fresh way to add some excitement to your cookout, we’ve gathered a selection of intriguing ideas for you to try. These themed menus and family-friendly activities provide an abundance of options for changing things up with your next outdoor event. Pick just one idea or mix and match several for a party that’s sure to make for a memorable summer evening.
Have a Themed Menu
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Change up your traditional summer cookout by offering a menu that goes beyond hot dogs and hamburgers by trying some of these more distinctive options:
- Hawaiian BBQ: Grill a tangy Hawaiian chicken with soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, and cider vinegar, or give your burgers a Hawaiian twist with a similar sauce and pineapple rings on top. Serve a tropical-fruit salad, steamed rice, or pineapple coleslaw on the side.
- Mexican BBQ: Turn your cookout into a fiesta with fajita chicken, margarita shrimp, carne asada, or chile salmon on the grill. Include grilled corn, refried beans, and Mexican rice on the side.
- Seafood BBQ: Evoke the feeling of a seaside summer festival with grilled scallops, crab, fish, or lobster tails. Coleslaw, potatoes, and grilled corn are easy sides for a seafood feast.
- Grilled pizza: Set up a pizza bar and serve personal pies off the grill. Let your guests pick their toppings and enjoy an original take on the traditional pizza night menu. Serve a big salad on the side with the freshest farmer’s market finds.
Create a Kebab Bar
If you’re catering to guests with a wide range of taste preferences, you can offer a little of everything with a kebab bar. This is a fun way to let your guests get in on the food preparation while customizing each person’s menu. Offer a variety of meats and vegetables in bite-size pieces. Add flavor by marinating some of your proteins ahead of time. Consider options like Thai pork, steakhouse tri-tip, chili beef, jerk chicken, dill salmon, sesame shrimp, or rosemary lamb.
Soak wooden skewers in water before grilling for perfectly finished kebabs. You can even offer dessert kebabs with grilled fruit and cake. Drizzle in chocolate or caramel when done for added decadence.
Take Dessert to the Next Level
If you want to keep dinner simple, consider taking your backyard barbecue to the next level with a special dessert offering. Elevate your s’mores experience with toppings like candied bacon, Nutella, almond butter, toasted coconut, roasted berries, candy bites, or salted caramel in the middle. Replace your graham crackers with cookies or other treats. Set up a s’mores bar with a variety of options and let your guests make their own unique creations.
On a hot summer day, it’s hard to beat ice cream as a chilly treat. If you’re up for an adventure, try making the ice cream yourself. Set up an ice cream bar with a variety of toppings so party-goers can put together their own one-of-a-kind desserts. Include toppings like crushed cookies, sprinkles, fruit, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, and caramel. Include cones, waffle bowls, and traditional bowls to serve up this dessert in a variety of ways.
Host a Backyard Carnival
Turn your backyard BBQ into a playful carnival for your guests. Offer a variety of games like corn hole, horseshoes, jumbo Jenga, and balloon darts. Let kids play with face painting or offer props like hula hoops, scarves, and costumes so little ones can organize a show for the adults. Popcorn, hot dogs, and cotton candy will set the perfect tone for this type of event. A homemade photo booth with some dress-up props adds a little extra fun. Include balloons, colorful lights, and bright pennants as decorations to complete your family-friendly night.
Show an Outdoor Movie
With a projector and a flat white surface, you can easily set up an outdoor movie for your guests after it gets dark. This is a great way to enhance your backyard cookout experience and keep the excitement going well into the evening. Encourage guests to bring blankets, pillows, chairs, or even inflatable mattresses to create comfy seating areas across the lawn. Kids might enjoy sitting in cardboard boxes decorated like cars to simulate the drive-in experience.
Serve bags of popcorn and boxed movie candy for the film. Consider dressing up your popcorn with a variety of spices or toppings. Set out shakers of popcorn flavoring or offer some options from your spice shelf like paprika, garlic salt, dill, chili powder, or ranch powder.
Organize a Beer or Wine Tasting
For an adult-oriented BBQ, consider organizing a beer or wine tasting to go with dinner. Ask each guest to bring a favorite beverage to share. Offer everyone a small glass of each selection so you can sample new finds and explore each other’s distinctive discoveries. Alternatively, you might challenge your guests to bring something they’ve never tried that looks intriguing. This is a fun way to explore local wines or craft brews without having to invest in several drinks.
Make Your Own Soda Floats
Treat your guests to the beloved flavor of a soda float for BBQ beverages that double as dessert. Fill balloons with water and freeze for a fun cooler feature around your ice cream pints. Include a variety of flavors both for the ice cream and the soda so your guests can get creative with their pairings.
While a classic root beer and vanilla ice cream is hard to beat, kids might also enjoy orange sherbet in orange soda, or cherry ice cream on top of a Coke. The options are endless, and everyone will enjoy this playful addition to your backyard event.
Do you have more ideas for a memorable backyard cookout? Contact our team at Huffines CJDR Plano and let us know so we can update our listing. We love having creative ideas for our customers to try when they get home from visiting our friendly car lot.