Image: Maya Visnyei | Stylist: Melissa DiRenzo
Yes, you can host a backyard get-together with little lead-time and still have it be a total success. Here’s how.
You know what summer is supposed to be all about — easy breezy living and going with the flow. So, if your friends surprise you with a pop-in, or the clouds suddenly clear and the beaming sun makes an appearance, take advantage of the opportunity and celebrate the glories of the season by throwing a last-minute barbecue party.
While the grilled goodies won’t take much time to get on the buns, the snacks, bevvies, décor and everything that adds to the fun and ambiance of the evening require a little more fuss. And so, we’ve put together a list of steps and tips that’ll help you throw a spontaneous backyard bash. Follow them to ensure the prep work is minimal and you aren’t playing hostess all night, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the evening with your guests.
1. Hit the grocery store.
Chances are you won’t have everything you need pre-stocked in your kitchen, so a trip to the grocery store is nonnegotiable. Don’t waste your time walking up and down the aisles or filling your cart with non-essentials. Here’s all you need:
- The BBQ essentials: burgers (see the ingredients for our Togarashi Beef Burgers and our Sweet Potato Falafel Burgers) and buns
- The burger toppings: lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes and condiments
- The side dishes: Pre-made salads (or if you have a little more time, see the ingredients for our Asparagus Spring Salad, Swiss Chard, Strawberry and Feta Salad, and Beet Risotto)
- The snacks: Fresh veggies and Sabra caramelized onion hummus, grilled pita bread with olive oil and Sabra roasted garlic hummus, cheese and crackers, and potato chips (or if you want to make your own apps, try our Guacamole, Creamy Pea Crostini or one of our nacho toppings)
- The dessert: Mini sundaes — brownie bites, ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate syrup (or if you want to make a homemade treat, try our Grilled Pineapple With Rum Sauce, Lemon Thyme Strawberry Crumble or Mini S’Mores Trifles)
- The beverages: Soda, wine, beer and ice (or try our Maple Whisky Lemonade)
2. Stock up the cooler.
As soon as you get home, throw the ice and beverages into the cooler so they’re cold by the time the guests arrive. Left with extras that won’t fit in the cooler? Chill them in the fridge for back-ups.
3. Prep the food.
Now’s the time to whip up any homemade treats, organize the snacks, arrange the toppings platter and prep the meat for the barbecue. Don’t be overly ambitious and try to pull everything together yourself — remember this is the time for easy-breezy living! Call in the troops for assistance and have all the food and drinks ready to go in a fraction of the time so more time can be spent relaxing on the patio.
3. Style the tablescape.
The table doesn’t need much. Cover it with a tablecloth or lay out a few placemats and set each place setting. Grab a few bud vases, spread them across the length of the table, and pluck some blooms from your garden to add to each vase.
4. Find a playlist.
There’s probably no time to make your own playlist, but that’s okay! Browse your go-to music app for some pre-made summer-ready playlists that feature songs from your and your guests’ favourite artists, genres and decades.
5. Fire up the barbie.
It’s time to work on the main attraction: the grilled goods. Don’t spend too much time prepping the meat —when forming the patties, handle them as little as possible, as touching them too much will make the meat tough. When grilling, be sure not to flatten them with the spatula or they’ll lose their juice. For more grilling tips, check out our grill guide.
The most important factor to remember when hosting a barbecue bash is to relax! A last-minute party is all about making do with what’s available to you at the time and not over-thinking or stressing about throwing the perfect fete. Concentrate on enjoying the beautiful weather and catching up with your nearest and dearest and the evening is sure to be a success.
Don’t have time to whip up anything homemade? No worries! Pick up pre-made side dishes from the prepared section of your local store, grab an easy dessert such as ice cream and cones, and rely on fail-proof snacks, like various chips and a crudité platter with Sabra hummus. Learn more about Sabra hummus and see the tasty versions it comes in at Sabra.com/ca.