At last, summer has arrived! With longer days and school holidays comes the urge for home-grilled food. Here are some ideas for organizing a BBQ that the whole family can enjoy.

Preparation

When catering for adults and children at the same event, it is best to pick an afternoon or early evening, at the weekend or during a school holiday. Holding a barbeque too late in the day will lead to tired or impatiently hungry children. Look for a location with plenty of space – perhaps there’s a suitable area in your local park for setting up a portable grill.

After sending out the initial invitations try to have a rough idea of how many people you will be catering for a few days before the event – informally ask invitees either in person, or by making a quick phone call. This way you can estimate how much food to prepare, without creating excess, or failing to account for unexpected guests.

Depending on how well you know your invitees, suggest they assist with setting up the barbecue. You might ask close family friends to bring along barbecue essentials of their own – spare fuel, cutlery or plates – to spread the responsibilities.  Fellow parents might also be willing to help with some aspect of the barbecue itself, like looking after the children, tidying up or taking care of drinks. If you aren’t as close to the families you are inviting, you could suggest they bring a couple of dishes or drinks to share. That way, each family ensures there will be something they like to eat at your BBQ.

On the Day

As the organiser, a few items you should be responsible for are: blankets and chairs, sun screen (in case of very sunny weather), bags for rubbish to go into, matches to light the grill and some antibacterial hand-gel (particularly useful if the children are getting their hands dirty before they eat!).

At a family barbecue you should make sure there are predominantly soft-drink options. For food – in addition to burgers, kebabs and chicken for the grill – set out plenty of salads, cold snacks and naan bread. After all, the grill might take some time to heat up, and it could be a while before everyone is served a hot dish. Leftover snacks will then serve to keep up the children’s energy while they play, giving the adults some lengthy peace and quiet!

Think about bringing a CD player or some loudspeakers to set the atmosphere.

Provide a few simple items to help to keep children of all ages amused: balls, cricket bats, skipping ropes and markers for a “goal” are probably all that’s needed. Surf Excel has lots more tips for outdoor games for kids! And if you’re planning to provide games or activities, be sure to warn the other parents in advance: the children’s clothes may need to be slung in the washing machine that evening – it’s best if they don’t turn up wearing their very ‘best’.

Organising a barbecue that everyone will enjoy sounds like a daunting task; but a bit of forward planning and careful catering will result in a lovely event that perfectly complements the wonderful summer weather.