Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer. But before you start fretting about cooler weather, go out with a bang and invite your friends and family to one last barbecue.
Inviting a huge group over? Don’t stress. Organizing resource Major Mom has some tips to ensure your barbecue is well planned, stress-free and fun.
To start, make sure your invites go out about a week in advance via email, mail or phone calls. This way, you’ll have a few days to declutter all areas your guests will see. If you feel this is not going to be possible, hire a professional organizer immediately.
Here is a quick planning checklist:
Trying to impress is so 1950s. Create an atmosphere where everyone feels “at home” by setting up the entire barbecue with easy self-serve stations.
Fancy decorations are not required for picnics. If you really want to decorate, try patriotic colors: red, white and blue.
Make sure there will be enough seating for everyone. It is very hard to eat standing up. Rent tables and chairs from a rental place if needed to avoid lots of people eating in your house and in your formal dining area. You can also borrow tables and chairs. If you call now, you can probably arrange to have the tables and chairs delivered. Have all the tables setup the day before or morning of the event.
Make it easy on yourself just this once with disposable tableware. Go with sturdy paper plates — not flimsy ones — high-quality napkins, white or black cutlery and plastic cups.
Use four separate coolers that are clearly marked: water, kids, sodas and adults only. You can also rent or borrow if needed. Make sure the adult-only cooler is NOT easily accessible by the children. Set up a drink station with cups/glasses, ice, pitchers, beer/wine opener and beverage napkins. Label beverages in glass pitchers with dry-erase markers.
Have numerous activities set up for everyone so they can entertain themselves as they wish: sack races, horseshoes, a football and a soccer ball. Or try these favorite backyard games.
The most important element of any party is the food. High-quality, good food is always remembered and appreciated. Serve everything possible buffet-style on two to three separate tables: appetizers, desserts, side dishes and main course and condiments.
If you choose to grill for your guests — versus using a caterer — purchase everything you will need several days before: BBQ tools, hot mitts, trays, charcoal or propane tank, lighters, etc. Always test your grill before the party starts.
Kids need to be entertained so adults can enjoy their time too! Hire a babysitter for the event that is responsible for entertaining the kids and watching them if they want to play in front. Have a self-serve station for kids with veggie trays and individual packets of snacks. Put the food out on easy-to-reach trays to keep hands out of the chip bowl and prevent spills from higher counters. Set out kid-friendly games, including, hula hoops, bubbles, balls, pogo sticks and sidewalk chalk.
Make sure the main floor bathroom is clutter-free, clean and has a plentiful supply of convenient soap and towels (think pump soap and disposable towels). You can tear apart 100 sheets of paper towels and lay them in a nice basket near the sink or just place the paper towel roll in the bathroom.
Use directional signs. Informational placards are so helpful, and will keep you from answering lots of phone calls or questions from your guests. The more signs you have, the fewer questions you’ll have to answer.
Sign on gate: “This Way to the Barbecue!"
Signs on coolers: “Adults Only!” or “Water & Sodas"
Sign on Basement Door: “This way to the Pool Table & Foosball Table!"
Major Mom is an organizing resource for families to take control of their households. They can help you by setting up customized systems based on your needs, either in home or online through e-books and workshops. Visit majormom.biz or how-to-organize.co for locations and more information.