10 tips for planning a successful spring barbecue

You can take the Brit out of the UK, but you can’t take the UK out of the Brit. Especially when it comes to one nice day of sunshine and the subsequent barbecue planning frenzy!

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This is definitely one area of my life where English and American are two very different languages. Us Brits go to a barbecue and cook on the barbeque. We also barbecue as in to barbecue. We may sometimes Oz it up and shorten it to barbie or BBQ when writing but the equipment, the event and the adjective are one and the same. So simple.

My American friends and family utilise a completely different vernacular. And I still haven’t got my head around it because it also depends on where in the U.S. they’re from. Cookout or grillout are the two main players. And they grill on the grill. Or cook on the grill.

Barbecue is something completely different; cooking long, low and slow like pulled pork or brisket. Rather than super hot and fast. Most British barbecues that I’ve been to (especially when our Dad’s been cooking) have been slow so there can be similarities!

So in planning mode, I came to think of what I needed to do to make the event a success, and as a result, my top tips was born.

1. Check that you’ve got enough charcoal, firelighters and matches. Or that the propane tank is sufficiently full. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to fire it up and nada. Nothing. Not a sausage happening. Literally

2. Real china crockery and glass glasses are nice but paper plates and napkins, plastic cutlery and cups are where it’s at if you have more than six people coming. I absolutely hate eating from paper plates and plastic cups are just gross. But, I hate washing up even more

3. A huge rubbish bin or bin bag outside. Ready and waiting to dump everything into so it’s cleaned up before it even has a chance to decorate the kitchen worktops

4. Music. I already know that we’ll be listening to a hilarious 80s mix on Spotify as James’ll be DJing. If you’re of normal music-loving stock, then perhaps download something slightly cooler and make sure your iPhone dock or speakers are fully batteried/charged up

5. Ice. Buy a couple of huge bags. Nothing says lame-host more than serving warm Pimms.

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6. And whilst we’re talking about Pimms, have one good drink/cocktail to serve along with the usual beer and wine.  A few slightly more interesting non-alcoholic interesting options always go down a treat too

7. Stock up on the condiments. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, mustard, mayo and relishes

8. Prepare the barbecue station. I know, with utmost certainty, that whilst I’m in the middle of something important, like talking to people, I’ll get interrupted with “where are the tongs? I need scissors. Pass me the kitchen roll. Get me a plate”. Anticipation and prior delivery is key here

9. Keep it fairly simple. Easy to serve nibbles (appetizers for the American folk), a few salads and side dishes, and a couple of uncomplicated, but delicious puddings (desserts). If people offer to bring something, take them up on it and make a suggestion rather than ending up with 3 pavlovas. A pavlova-off might be fun but it’s bound to hurt someone’s feelings!

10. Set up a drinks table so people can help themselves. Being the hostess with the mostess is tiring even without being the drink waitress too!

And lastly have fun! Do you have any tips that I’ve missed?

Lucy

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