9 Tips for Having a Backyard Barbecue

BBQ party

There is no better time for a fun get-together than during the summer, when people come together outside and enjoy the weather. But the idea of hosting a party of your own can seem a little daunting with all the planning, cleaning and prepping necessary. However, with an organized approach it can be easy to get everything done efficiently so you can spend your time relaxing with your guests. Follow these 9 tips in order to plan and execute the perfect backyard barbecue.

1. Plan Ahead

As with just about everything, planning is key when it comes to pulling off a successful party. Creating lists of supplies, guests, food items and other necessities will help keep you organized and on track. You may even want to schedule different types of preparations by the day so you won’t be rushing the day of the event.

Start with a guest list and get your invitations out. Word of mouth or electronic invitations are fine for a casual barbecue. Next, plan out the non-food items you will need and get those several days before the party if possible. Once you’ve planned the menu you can make a two shopping lists: one for a couple days in advance and one for the morning of the backyard party. Some foods need to be bought fresh, and that’s OK as long as you plan accordingly.

You should also ensure that your grill is in good working order. Make sure you have plenty of the proper fuel for your appliance. If you are looking to purchase your first grill for the sole purpose of throwing this party, be sure you do plenty of research so you know you are picking the right one for you.

2. Create a Simple Menu

If you will providing all the food items, make sure to keep your menu simple. Most people like to eat lighter and healthier in the summertime anyway. Stick with the classics: grilled meats, a vegetarian option, corn on the cob, fruit salads, green salads and lots of beverages. Take extra care to not forget to include an option for your vegetarian guests, and certainly plan for a delicious dessert. Your final sweets should be light as well–gooey chocolate is less appealing during the hot months.

Another option is to make the party a potluck, which can help you save money. You might want to assign guests a specific category of items to bring. Otherwise you could end up with six fruit salads and no desserts.

3. Cooking Ahead of Time

You’ll want to make as many menu items as you can before the party. It can be very frustrating trying to prepare dishes while guests are in the kitchen and watching you expectantly. Of course, there will be things you cannot make until the day of the backyard party, but you’ll want to plan your menu accordingly to minimize those things.

Also, schedule yourself time to decorate your yard or set up the buffet. You want your guests to be able to make themselves comfortable as soon as they arrive.

4. Offer an Assortment of Beverages

EdgeStar Ultra Low Temperature Full Size Stainless Steel Kegerator

A warm summer day will mean thirsty party goers, so you’ll want to be prepared with several different drink items. Lemonade and iced tea are classic barbecue offerings. If you plan on serving water or soda, you might want to use a tub full of ice to keep the bottles cool. If you are catering your party more for adults, be sure to include several beer, wine and cocktail options for your guests to choose from.

When it comes to parties, it is super helpful to have an extra beverage fridge to keep drinks cool until it’s time to put them out for guests. A kegerator with a beer tap is a particularly useful appliance to keep the brew flowing for your visitors, and no one will have to pump a keg all night! Kegerators can also be equipped with root beer if you are opting to keep your cookout dry.

5. Have Extras of Everything

Make sure to buy or make extras of everything. Not just the food and drinks–also remember to have extra plates, cups and seating. It’s easier to send people home with leftovers than it is to run to the store if you run out of something. Even things you don’t think you’ll need extra of, such as propane, should be bought early and held in reserve.

6. Be Prepared for Your Guests

Plan to have appetizers ready for your guests as soon as they arrive. They likely will be hungry, and it’s nice to have something to munch on while waiting for the main course. Chips and dip are just fine, but maybe offer some fruit skewers, finger foods or mini cups of barbecued beans to keep your guests satisfied.

When you are placing food out early for party goers, remember that things with mayonnaise or dairy products cannot sit out for a very long time without a bed of ice or other cooling device. You don’t want the potato salad hanging out in the sun for four hours: it may be unsafe to eat and certainly won’t look appetizing.

7. Crank Up the Stereo

Be sure to have music going in the background at your party. You don’t need to have a full backyard stereo system, but you can turn one of your interior speakers toward the window to help magnify the sound. Even a small boom box will do, though this will limit the selections you can play.

If you have music stations by theme or time period available through your cable TV provider or internet radio, this can be a good, commercial-free option. If you are super organized and ambitious, you can even create your own playlist for the night and save it on your computer or mobile music device to play throughout the party.

8. Prepare Some Games

If you will be inviting children to the barbecue, plan to have some games or other outdoor activities available to keep them occupied. Of course, the adults might want to get in on the fun as well. If you expect the party to last more than three hours, it can very helpful in keeping everyone occupied to have lawn games, water toys or decks of cards set out for the guests.

One fun game idea is to use non-toxic spray paint to paint a Twister board–just big dots in four colors–onto your grass. The rain or lawnmower will remove the paint eventually, and in the meantime, the board creates a wind-proof, outdoor-friendly format to enjoy this classic group activity. Other games to consider are hopscotch, volleyball, soccer, or even basketball, if you have a hoop.

9. The Cleanup Process

Depending how late the night goes, you might want to leave cleanup for the morning. Just make sure to put the food away at night before any outdoor critters find their way into your yard. Paper plates and cups are helpful for the cleanup process, but you might consider the reusable type of disposable serveware to cut down on waste. If you have the room, consider hanging garbage bags in convenient areas of your yard to discourage your guests from littering.

Hosting a backyard barbecue is a great way to connect with friends and enjoy the summer weather. With a little work in advance, you can pull a cookout off without worry.

7 Tips for Hosting a Summer Pool Party

Pool Party

It is the peak of the warm months, and the sun is sweltering. All you can think about is nostalgic warm days at the pool as a child. Revisit these memories by hosting an exciting summer pool party, but with a little more adult flair. However, before you invite your friends over for the perfect refreshing summer bash, there are several things to consider during the planning process.

1. Decorate to Impress

First, you want to work on creating a fun summer backdrop that clearly transports your guests to paradise. With a pool party, it is important to think more fun and simple rather than extravagant and elegant. Pops of color can quickly add excitement to the décor. Pick vibrant shades of pinks, greens and purples and place them around the pool. Use small paper lanterns or bunting in bright colors to add the sense of an outdoor fiesta or barbecue. If you want to go with a theme, you could add touches of tropical elements like vibrant flowers and subtle bamboo details, or hang beach balls from tree branches and awnings to add a fun childhood element.

If you want something a little more grown up and sophisticated, you could use a nautical theme with deep blues and reds accompanied with white details, adding touches of anchors and sailboats.

2. Refreshing Cocktails

Sangria cocktail

Make vibrant fruity cocktails that are reminiscent of tropical pool cabanas in the Caribbean. Mai tais, mojitos and margaritas are perfect refreshing poolside drinks that will leave people impressed. You can easily find recipes and add small touches of your own, such as adding hints of watermelon or mango. Sangria is also an excellent refreshing option for wine drinkers.

If this is a family event, don’t forget the kids. You can easily make virgin versions of poolside cocktails and punches that will have them coming back for more.

3. Summer Wine

While wine is often ignored at outdoor barbecues and events, don’t be so quick to count it out! Many people are not liquor or beer drinkers, and it is important to have something for everyone. As you select wines for the event, consider light refreshing options that will be optimal for the heat of the outside setting.

Rosés are an excellent option for a hot summer day. While traditionally they were extraordinarily sweet, many new dry rosés are light and refreshing. Lighter white wines, such as the floral Viognier, can be ideal picks for your gathering. Overall, look for wines that are off-dry with a hint of sweet that come from cooler climates and are derived from lighter grape varieties. These qualities will help you find the perfect summer wine.

If you have the space, consider installing a wine refrigerator in your kitchen. This will help you store your collection of wine for your pool guests and ensure that the wine is perfectly chilled in time for the party.

4. Pool Side Beer

Nothing screams warm summer day like a crisp cool beer. As you begin to select beers for your party, you want to look for beers with lower alcohol by volume. Because your guests will be hanging out in the warm sun all day, you want beers that they can sip on throughout the afternoon without getting a little too intoxicated. Remember that safety should always be your first priority!

Secondly, you will want to consider lighter refreshing options. A number of breweries release summer editions that will add an excellent touch to your event. There are a wide variety of summer wheat beers, blondes and ales to choose from. Select a range of refreshing options to satisfy even the pickiest beer drinkers.

If you have an outdoor kitchen, you might want to invest in a kegerator for your guests. A kegerator will allow you to serve your favorite beers on tap in your very own backyard.

5. Expert Grilling

Laguna Grill Smoker

A summer party would not be complete without some delicious food hot off the grill. There are a variety of options when planning your menu for the party. You can go with more casual burgers, hot dogs and sausages, or you could go with something a little more impressive like steaks, fish or kabobs.

Whatever you may be putting on the grill, there are some important steps to follow. First, you want to make sure that you are not putting the food on the grill too early. You need to let the grill sit for at least 30 minutes before cooking to ensure the best results. Also, avoid babysitting the food. Every time you lift the lid of the grill, heat and smoke is lost and your meat loses flavor. In addition, over flipping the food can result in flare-ups which can cause your food to burn. Look up appropriate cooking times and set a timer so you only have to check on and flip your food once. You can also ensure perfectly cooked meat by using a meat thermometer. Finally, you want to wait until the end of the grilling process to add your sauce. If you add it too early, it will simply burn off onto the grill.

6. Delicious Salads

The sides you serve along with the barbecue are just as important as the main course. Consider providing a spread of light summer salads. There are many options that go beyond a traditional green or potato salad. Bring back memories of corn on the cob by creating a light refreshing concoction from the kernels. There are also a variety of salads that use bright green asparagus, broccoli or kale.

Consider serving fruit salads, which can provide a sweet and refreshing touch to your summer soirée. Adding a hint of vibrant herbs to your fruit, such as lavender, mint, basil or rosemary, can make for a truly unique dish. You can even bring a little bit of influence from the grill to your salads. Grilling more obvious vegetables like squash, eggplant or mushrooms create a savory dish, and grilling more adventurous items like avocado or fruit provide an element of surprise.

7. Fun and Games

Games are not just for the kids. On a hot summer day, the adults want to spend just as much time playing in the pool. Throw some fun floating tubes and lounges for people to relax in the pool. This not only provides a place to cool off but also adds to the décor. If you want to incorporate more active games, get a beach ball and set up a net for some pool volleyball. Get everyone involved and create a little competition while enjoying the water. If you’re feeling a bit more nostalgic and adventurous, purchase some inexpensive water guns and water balloons for a water gun battle. Fun activities such as these will ensure that everyone has a fantastic time.

You have a lot of options when hosting your party. Just try to be creative and have fun with the process. Vibrant decorations, delicious barbecue, impressive drinks, and fun activities will have your guests talking about the event for weeks and months to come.

Tailgating Essentials For the Love of Football

Thanksgiving is upon us and with that, comes my favorite “f'” words: food, family, friends, and football! We have some big rivalry games coming up this Thanksgiving weekend, including:

  • Michigan @ Ohio State
  • Okhlahoma State @ Oklahoma
  • Auburn @ Alabama
  • Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys

If you plan on going to any of these games, or even watching from the comfort of your couch, we’ve got everything you need (short of body paint) to grab a big W for your team without even entering the stadium. A sport in its own right, tailgating is not for the faint of heart. There is no limit to what can be grilled, chilled, or painted with your team’s colors.


Step it up from the keg in the trashcan routine and drink your beer the way the brewer intended with the EdgeStar Full Size Kegerator with Stainless Steel Door.


Stainless Steel Kegerator

KC2000SS- EdgeStar Stainless Steel Kegerator


Break out the Keg-a-Que Portable Stainless Steel Propane Grill at a moment’s notice to challenge any opponent to an impromptu grill-off.

Stainless Steel Portable Propane Grill

Keg-a-Que Grill


NEVER run out of ice for your mixed drinks with the EdgeStar Titanium Portable Ice Maker.

Titanium Portable Ice Maker

IP210TI EdgeStar Portable Ice Maker


And make sure that everything from your Kegerator to your Ipod dock has all the power it needs with the Peak 400 Watt Tailgate Inverter.

Tailgate Mobile Power Strip

Tailgate Power Strip


These products can help you throw an awesome tailgate party or a thanksgiving get-together that people will be talking about for years to come. I hope you enjoy the holidays with your friends and family and may the best team win!

Great Products for Outdoor Summer Fun

This time of year here in Austin, and I’m sure across the country, most people want to be outside – in the evening anyways. The heat can get pretty unbearable during the day in many places, but it’s the perfect time to throw an evening cook out. Families and friends can gather outside for barbeques and other outdoor fun. That’s why I’ve put together a list of products to help your outdoor get-together go off without a hitch!

1. Patio Sets

Royal Teak 5 Piece Patio Set

Everyone will enjoy hanging out and chatting with each other in your beautiful patio set. The Royal Teak Collection 5 piece patio set encourages your guests to take a seat and stay for a while.

2. Grills

Bayou Classic Grill

Your hungry friends and family will love you for cooking them up a tasty meal in this Bayou Classic smoker grill.

3. Frozen Drink Maker

Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker

Long, hot summer days will have you looking for relief. Cool off with a fun and delicious frozen drink! With this Margaritaville frozen concoction maker you can make an assortment of refreshing, cold drinks.

 4. Outdoor Lighting

Real Flame Fire Column

Your party can go late into the night with the right lighting.  Lighting can create such a welcoming and beautiful environment.  This Real Flame Modesto fire column is sure to give your backyard a touch of flare!

5. Outdoor Electronics

Sunbrite Outdoor TV

What better way to entertain your guests than with an outdoor television!  You can enjoy being outdoors while still watching your favorite sports or TV shows.  This SunBrite 32″ all-weather outdoor LCD TV is a durable high definition television with aluminum casing designed for outside use.


Whether you’re hanging out with your family or entertaining friends, these items are sure to be winners.  Make your outdoor space into the welcoming oasis you’ve always wanted it to be.  And be sure to invite me over once you do!

A Baby Shower with a Splash

Nostalgia Electrics Party Fountain

This past weekend I threw my very first baby shower for some amazing friends!  In my beginning ventures to pick out the perfect theme I was caught up in cookie cutter themes that have been done a thousand times over.  If you have a boy you should expect trains, baby bears or prince themes to name a few.  It wasn’t until I starting looking online that I found the perfect custom theme “Woodland Creatures” and all things natural and outside.

So I went to town on creating little woodland creatures, and beautiful flowers that felt random and fresh picked in mason jars, and crinkled grass.  But I wanted something that made…well a splash and found the  Nostalgia Electrics Vintage Party Fountain.

Because this was a baby shower I made lemonade for the fountain and it turned out amazing!  It became the hit of the party and what everyone was talking about.  It just added that extra bit of sweetness and whimsical delight needed!  It was extremely easy to put together and operate and sounded so relaxing in the background with the trickling lemonade.  So I hope when you plan your next shower, party or get-together this inspires you in finding those extra special touches and maybe even your very own fountain!

Nostalgia Electrics Party Fountain  Nostalgia Electrics Party Fountain  Nostalgia Electrics Party Fountain

Must-Have Products for Holiday Entertaining

Tis’ the season to entertain!  Many of us love entertaining and the holidays but entertaining during the holidays can be downright stressful.  As a child you enjoyed all the festivities had to offer whether you celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah or, for some, maybe even Festivus! As we become adults we get to see the behind the scenes of it all and unless you have super powers you have had your challenges.  So here is a helpful guide on must-have products to make your entertaining season full of cheer!

Slow Cooker:

One of my favorite must-haves is the infamous slow cooker. This is a great product for even those nights when you have to fit in some holiday shopping and still manage to cook dinner for the family. The options are endless: you can make a wonderful, warm apple cider, an amazing dip for Christmas Eve, baked applies for dessert or, on Christmas, a hearty soup as an appetizer. Growing up every Christmas, we had Escarole and Bean Soup, super delicious and super easy!

Simply any appliance that allows you to get all of your other duties done while it does all the cooking is a life saver. There are some great options to choose from depending on your family/guest size. I typically have small get-togethers and find the perfect size for me is a 3.5 qt, like the Cuisinart 3.5 Programmable Slow Cooker, but if you have a larger family a 6.5-7 qt might be right for you. Check out the Cuisinart 6.5 qt Programmable Slow Cooker or the Kalorik 7 qt Slow Cooker for larger groups.

Knife Set/Food Processor:

Whether you are a purist or practical, you need a great tool to help with food preparation.  For the purist who really takes cooking to a higher standard, a great knife set is key. I highly recommend any knife set from the Ginsu Knife Collection as they are the epitome of high quality! For the amateur chef or the professional, you have a range to choose from. A couple of my favorite knife sets are the Ginsu Chikara 5  Piece Bamboo/Stainless Steel Set and Ginsu Shoku Ebony 8 Piece with Magnetic Strip.

For the practical chef who doesn’t have enough hands to keep up, a great food processor can help out a lot. Preparation is half the battle and these are some of the great options available: Cuisinart 4 Cup Food Processor, Cuisinart 7 Cup Food Processor and, for the budget-minded, Black & Decker Food Chopper.

Gravy Boat:

My father (who is a chef, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about) always said a good gravy boat is essential to a holiday meal as the gravy ties the entire meal together.  There are many wonderful gravy boats on the market today, but I have a new favorite.

What is better than a regular gravy boat? A heated gravy boat with a wide handle and nice design, the Next Level Gravy Boat.  Not only is it great for serving gravy, but it can also be used for morning brunch as a syrup warmer!  You could probably use it for many other sauces as well. I believe anything that warms something dear to your heart is a great product and a must-have!

Wine & Beverage Refrigerators:

If you are the type of entertainer to throw big lavish dinners, cozy get-togethers or rowdy parties (so pretty much, any type of entertainer), then enjoying a holiday beverage is key. Whether you love a cold beer, tall glass of wine or some bubbly, a great beverage or wine cooler is a big convenience. There are so many different options available that you are sure to find the right product for your needs.

Here are some wonderful units for all of you different types of entertainers:
– Cold Beer: EdgeStar 84 Can Beverage Cooler
– Cozy Get-Together: Koldfront 4 Bottle Wine Cooler
– Red OR White Wine: Koldfront 30 Bottle Wine Cooler
– Red AND White Wine: EdgeStar 46 Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler

Coffee Makers:

Lastly, but definitely not least, is a great coffee maker!  Coffee is many things for different people. Some use it as their alarm clock to wake up, it’s what keeps others going throughout the day and for people like me, it is just nice to sit and enjoy a lively conversation over a hot cup of coffee.

If you’re going to be hosting a crowd this holiday season, then make sure you have enough joe to go around! Get a large coffee machine like the Cuisinart 12 Cup Coffee Maker or the Cuisinart Grind & Brew 10 Cup Coffee Maker. And don’t forget about the tea drinkers in your family, the Kalorik-JK31099 Dome Jug Kettle will help them feel right at home.