There’s nothing better during the summer than hosting a cookout for friends or family. Full bellies, friendly conversation, fun games and cool drinks can make for a memorable get-together! But we’re in the dog days of summer now, and the heat and humidity are hitting many of us full blast. Don’t put away your grill yet, though — it might be miserably muggy outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it spoil your love for outdoor entertaining! If you’re hosting a cookout (or would like to), here’s how to make it a success even when the scorching temperatures threaten your plans.
Set up a Refreshing Drink Station
Sunshine brings out smiles, but too much heat can zap energy and leave you feeling sticky and gross. Keep your guests cool and hydrated with an easily accessible and fully stocked drink station. A large pitcher or cooler of ice water will make it easy for everyone to stay cool and hydrated. If that sounds a bit boring for a party, up the fancy factor by setting out an essence bar. Offer fun paper straws, little umbrellas, and bowls of fruit that guests can add to their water for some refreshing flavor. Strawberries, kiwis, lemon, cucumber, and watermelon are popular choices; just be sure to keep them on ice and covered to keep pests away.
For those who can partake in adult beverages, a homemade summer shandy can really hit the spot on a sunny afternoon. Simply mix equal parts of a light, refreshing beer of your choice (wheat ales are the best option for this) with lemonade. Serve in frosty mugs or keep it in a chilled container, because no one likes warm beer!
Repel Buzzy Insects
When hosting a cookout, it’s inevitable you’ll be dealing with insects. To keep an otherwise fantastic outdoor party from being ruined by nagging pests like flies and mosquitos, bring plenty of bug spray for your guests. Remember though, not everyone may want to use the typical chemical spray, especially if they bring young children, so be sure to throw an all-natural option in the mix.
If using bug spray at all isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there are still a number of tools to help keep bugs at bay that don’t require topical application. Add a few drops of citronella essential oil to your tiki torch fuel to create a bug-resistant perimeter. Some plants can also help, although it may take some planning ahead; citronella grass is one of the most popular plants to repel mosquitos, but plants like lavender or rosemary have also been said to be effective. Any of these can be placed around the yard in planters or clippings can be used in centerpieces.
If you’re in an absolute pinch, raid your medicine cabinet for some 3% hydrogen peroxide. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water, and spray it on your patio and hard surfaces where guests will be sitting. (Just don’t spray it on or near the food!)
There’s nothing worse than having a great time at a party, then someone gets a bee sting or starts to get a sunburn. Keep a first aid kit close by, along with sunscreen just in case. If you know someone in attendance carries an Epi-Pen, make sure someone knows where it is and how it’s used in case it’s needed. If you’re cooking over an open flame outdoors, be sure you have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher close by to douse any unexpected flare ups or ensure the fire is completely out at the end of the party.
Finally, don’t forget about the pets! If you’ve got pets attending your soiree, make sure there’s a name and phone number of an emergency vet close by; usually the refrigerator door is where people look when needed, but if you’re at the beach or park or elsewhere from home, have this info written down and stored with the rest of the emergency supplies.
Provide Plenty of Shade
If you’re planning to entertain your guests outdoors, make sure there’s plenty of shade for them to get a break from the sun. Patio and beach umbrellas or large tent canopies are great options for this, as they can be moved around the yard as the sun moves overhead. For something more permanent, a retractable awning can be an excellent addition that can be used year round.
If you absolutely don’t have any shade options available, try securing one side of a lightweight blanket, towel, or even a shower curtain to an elevated surface; it could be a fence or a pole or even your gutters. Secure the other end on whatever you can find — a tall chair, for example. Whatever you’ve got to work with, don’t be afraid to get creative as long as you do it safely. It might look funny, but at least you’ll be shaded!
Provide Less Intense Activities for Everyone
If you’re hosting a cookout for a wide range of guest ages, keep everyone entertained (and cool!) with outdoor lawn games that don’t require a great deal of physical involvement. A beanbag, sidewalk chalk or ring toss game can be a great way to keep kids active without overheating, but water balloons or sprinkler can also be a fun way for them to stay cool. For the adults, giant Jenga or cornhole can get everyone socializing and having a great time without getting drenched in sweat!
If you have older or less mobile guests who need less physical activities, board games like chess, checkers and Connect Four are great options because they don’t require cards that could blow away in a breeze. Set them up under shaded areas to keep them comfortable!
Entertaining Tips and Tricks
We LOVE to entertain here at Homes.com, and believe it’s one of the simple joys that make a house a home. If hosting a cookout or any other home entertaining is on your radar, keep checking our blog for all the best tips, tricks and advice for the perfect party.