Ideas for a Backyard BBQ

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Backyard barbecues provide opportunities to entertain friends and family in a casual, comfortable setting. Plan your barbecue to reflect your style and taste, along with adding elements that will make it memorable and pleasing for you and your guests. The small details can pull your entire barbecue together and make it seem like much more than an ordinary barbecue.

Themes

Plan your barbecue around a specific theme so that each detail complements your gathering. A western hoedown can include country music, square dancing, bales of hay and other western-themed decorations. Plan a luau if the tropics are more your style. Go traditional with a full roasted pig and hula dancing or scale it down with a tiki hut, grass skirts and a lei for each guest. Other theme ideas include a clambake, surf and turf, safari or a fiesta.

Decorations

Decorate your backyard to create the ambiance of your theme. Hang fishing nets from your porch or tree or lay them across your table for your clambake or surf and turf. Create centerpieces out of beach pails, sand, shells and starfish. Use red-and-white checkered table cloths and bales of hay with cushions for your seating at a western barbecue. Centerpieces could include cowboy boot-shaped vases or mason jars with wildflowers. Hang a row of sombreros from a clothesline or fill glass jars with chili peppers, jalapenos or salsa for fiesta centerpieces.

Food

Grill food that complements your barbecue theme. Introduce different styles of barbecue such as Memphis or Texas for a western-themed barbecue. Common meats include steak, ribs, chicken, hamburger and hot dogs. Include traditional western sides, such as barbecue beans, corn on the cob, potato or macaroni salad. Use skewers to make a shish kebab out of seafood, meats and tropical fruits for a luau or surf and turf. Side dishes for a luau might include exotic fruits, such as guava, pineapples and coconut, banana bread, poi and rice dishes. Grill carne asada or quesadillas, and serve with steamed rice, nachos and warm tortillas for a fiesta. Alternatives include a taco bar or pita pockets.

Entertainment

Clear a space in your backyard, preferably on a hard surface, such as cement. Designate this space for your guests to dance or play games. Play music that coordinates with your theme, such as Hawaiian music for a luau or ocean sounds for a surf and turf. Activities might include a dance contest, line dancing, limbo, salsa or hula dancing. Games can include leisure activities, such as horseshoes, badminton or croquet. Keep children entertained with a scavenger hunt or carnival-style games, such as a dunk tank or water balloon tosses.

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