How to Have a Backyard Bash Without the Stress

Having a bunch of friends over to grill some hot dogs doesn’t have to be complicated. With these seven bits of advice, you can have a fun backyard BBQ without all the fuss.

[1] Invite your guests with an emailed invitation service online. It’s fast, you can send it out to everyone in minutes and they can respond immediately. They can leave a comment or see who else is coming. Another perk is that you can list any item that would be helpful for other people to bring and when they RSVP they can choose one or more. It doesn’t have to be just food either; it can be yard games (remember lawn darts?); extra chairs, special music on an ipod, or even paper plates.

[2] Don’t worry about making the house spotless. If you are able, lead people around to the backyard from the side of the house. Put up some twinkle lights and solar tiki torches for a fun pathway with atmosphere. If people have to come through the front door, throw everything messy into back bedrooms. Just clean the kitchen and wipe down the bathroom and put out some room fragrances that smell like the beach. Then dim the lights and turn on some battery-powered tea lights around the house, even in the bathroom.

[3] Pull out your inside comfort items to the outside. Blankets, pillows, even lamps with an extension cord. Add table cloths. Your deck or patio will instantly feel cozy. If you can do it easily without spending a lot of money, choose a theme.

[4] Purchase some food items pre-made, like potato salad or baked beans. Add your own ingredients, like add celery and boiled eggs, and sprinkle it with paprika to potato salad or add big chunks of bacon to your beans. When choosing what to grill, make it easy. Consider asking a spouse or friend to help. You may even want to grill some food in advance and then warm it in foil at the last minute. Or wrap up salmon with herbs and butter in foil and just steam it on the grill. Grill with smoking wooden chips and the scent will keep everyone eager to eat.

[5] Use paper plates and utensils. It’s pretty easy to find bright colored items at discount shops.

[6] Hire a teenager to entertain the children. Let her set up the kids table and plan activities. An ice cream maker with sundae toppings is a great project –and dessert! A fancy sprinkler or a craft like sand art can keep little hands busy. Or set up a treasure hunt in advance.

[7] Forgo fancy drinks that will keep you behind a blender all night. Instead, buy sodas, along with a few of the old-fashioned root beers and orange cream soda. Provide some sparkling water. Get the kids simple juice boxes. Put a large plastic table cloth in a wheel barrow or other big bucket, dump in the ice and arrange. Before guests arrive, make a large self-serving container of unsweetened ice tea. If you want to be fancy, pre-make some ice cubes with berries and mint leaves inside to float at the top.

And lastly, remember to have fun and actually have some conversations with people. Refuse to play the role of the hostess who never sits down. Instead, ask your friends for help getting things ready and then let everyone relax, yourself included. Leave the clean up until tomorrow.

Lisa Copen is the founder of Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week held annually in Sept and featuring a 5-day virtual conference w/ 20 seminars w/ 20 speakers. Follow Invisible Illness Week on Twitter for prizes and info. Blog about invisible illness on your site, be a featured guest blogger, meet others, read articles and lots more. Make a difference!