Warm weather calls for eating and hanging out outside! Especially with the kids out of school, and everyone home. It’s the perfect time to get family and friends together for a summer BBQ.

Planning a cookout or BBQ is fairly simple—as long as you give guests enough advance notice, everyone shows up, eats, and spends time together. But what can you bring to your summer BBQ to really take it to the next level? Maybe guests have so much fun, it becomes a yearly tradition, or part of a holiday celebration.

Consider these four things your summer BBQ needs to draw a crowd, and make them keep coming every time you host.

1. Lots of Food

Summer BBQ Appetizer

Let’s face it, the purpose of a summer BBQ is to eat. The best part is that it doesn’t really matter what you’re eating, either. Every family has different tastes, and not all friends like the same food. And that’s okay! The most important thing is that there is food available for everyone to enjoy.

There are a few ways to make sure everyone’s taste buds are happy. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could make all the food at home—with the help of a friend or two. To do this, we recommend polling your guest list. Give them a few options and make the foods everyone will eat. If you really want to cater to your guests, leave a blank option for write-ins.

If that sounds like a lot of work—because, truthfully, it will be–host a potluck-style summer BBQ. Prepare a few main dishes yourself, and ask that every guest (or every family) bring a side dish. When guests bring their own food, they usually bring something they like eating. That way, they know there’s something they like at the BBQ. It’s a sure way to be certain everyone is satisfied!

No matter what you choose, do offer lots of finger foods and kebabs. Guests will likely have a drink in one hand, or want to play cornhole. So if foods are bite-sized, they’ll be able to juggle all their activities.

2. Plenty of Games

Summer BBQ Games

What will your guests be doing in between bites? They’ll spend time chatting and catching up, of course. But what can you offer them to have a little fun while they’re soaking up the summer sun?

You answer should be, “Backyards games to play!” If you choose the right selection of games for your house and yard, everyone can have fun. There’s no age limit on games like cornhole, and croquet is a winner for everyone, too. Make sure you offer a few different games, so groups can rotate or take turns playing. And it doesn’t matter what size backyard you have, either. There are plenty of games for any yard!

3. Good Music

Summer BBQ Music

Music certainly doesn’t need to be the focal point of your BBQ, but playing some in the background will help the mood immensely. Think about going shopping—you might not hear the music, but before you know it, you’re bopping your head to it, and feeling good. Music at your summer BBQ can have the same effect.

A good playlist will set the tone for the event. Guests will be able to tell whether the event is upbeat and lively, or calm and relaxing immediately. Plus, there isn’t going to be constant talking. Everyone will take breaks to eat, soak up the sun, and maybe walk around the yard and stretch. Background noise will keep the silences from being awkward, and make guests more likely to relax and stay a while.

Bonus Tip: For a fun musical experience, let guests control the music for an hour or two. It allows them to participate and enjoy their favorite tunes.

4. Trash Bags

Probably one of the least exciting items on our list, but definitely one of the most important! You’re going to have a lot of people at your house. For some of your guests, this might be their first time coming over. Everyone at your summer BBQ is going to throw something away—it could even be just a single napkin. The cardinal rule of hosting is: Don’t make your guests look for the trash!

Guests don’t want to awkwardly walk around your kitchen, and poke around in cabinets until they find out. And they don’t want to hunt you down to ask, either. Make it easier for everyone—including yourself!—and have an easily accessible trash bucket inside, and one outside.

Check both trashes often, too. Overflowing trash is almost as awkward as not being able to find the trash. Your guests don’t want to litter, but they don’t want to walk around with trash, either. Once again, you both benefit from diligent trash duty.


Your BBQ should be all about having fun, and giving your friends and family space to relax and enjoy themselves. These four things will help you do just that! Your guests will be able to enjoy the afternoon, whether they’re eating, playing games, or just sitting and chatting.

What are your favorite songs to hear at a BBQ? Better yet, do you have a playlist already created? We’d love to hear it—share your favorites below!