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.

10 Tips to Help You Stay Cool During the Summer Heat

Summer sprinkler

Staying cool in the summertime can be a real chore. Not only can the heat make you generally uncomfortable, you can also suffer heat-related illnesses if you’re not careful. These 10 tips can help you learn how to survive the summer heat while still having fun.

1. Air Conditioning

Air conditioners can be lifesavers in areas with high humidity, where fans often just can’t cut through the mugginess to provide proper cooling. To help you save on energy costs, set your thermostat to a higher setting when no one will be home. When you are home, choosing to set the thermostat just a few degrees higher than your desired temperature can have huge positive effects on your energy bill. Also remember to properly maintain your cooling system and replace filters monthly for superior performance and top cooling power.

2. Dress Appropriately and Protect Your Skin

Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is going to help you stay cool and dry when the weather is hot. Loose clothes will help air circulate on your body to keep you cool, and clothing in light colors will reflect heat and sunlight. Cotton clothing tends to be the best choice for summer weather, as the natural fibers allow for better air flow and they help wick sweat away from the body to increase cooling.

Don’t forget to protect your head, eyes and skin. Wear a large hat that will provide shade and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don’t forget to use lots of sunscreen for skin protection, and reapply it often!

3. Eat Right

When the weather heats up, the right food choices can help keep you cool. Colder foods, such as salads, fruits and fresh raw vegetables can all help keep your body temperature from rising after a meal, as they require little energy to metabolize. Cucumbers and watermelons, for example, are both well known for being high in water content, so snacking on them can provide heat relief as well as some much-needed hydration.

watermelon slice

On the other hand, protein-rich foods, such as meats, fish and cheese, require higher energy levels to metabolize, which can increase your body temperature as you digest them. Try to avoid these foods when you are feeling overheated.

4. Fan Yourself

Using fans, whether electric, battery powered, or hand-propelled, will all help circulate the air around you and reduce the mugginess of a hot summer’s day. Ceiling fans work well in homes without air conditioning to create a breeze and increase cooling, and smaller fans can be moved from room to room to circulate the air wherever you may be. Create a cross-breeze by positioning a fan across from a window, so that the wind outside and the fan can combine to cool you down. Small, battery-powered fans can be brought with you outdoors and can even be attached to stroller trays to keep babies cool in the heat.

5. Go Swimming

Many times the only way to cool down is to get wet. Take a dive into your pool, put your sprinklers on and run through them with your kids, or take a cool shower or bath and let your body air-dry. A small plastic kiddie pool can be the perfect place to splash and cool down, both for little ones and grown-ups alike. Swimming is a fun summer tradition that can help protect you from the dangerous heat, but be sure to always follow our pool safety tips.

6. Home Tips

If you are without air conditioning, there are other ways you can reduce the temperature of your home in the summer. Keeping your curtains closed during the day will help reduce the heat coming through your windows, and you can even invest in specialized “thermal drapes” that can reduce the amount of light and heat that come in through your windows. Light bulbs and even small electronic gadgets give off heat, so keep the lights off as much as possible and unplug your devices. Do your laundry and cleaning during the cooler times of the day if possible, as running the dishwasher and doing your laundry will also generate indoor heat.

Consider purchasing a portable air conditioner if you are without a built-in A/C system. Portable air conditioners allow you to cool individual rooms efficiently. By only cooling the rooms that you need to cool, you can save a lot of money on energy.

7. Schedule Activities Carefully

Stay out of the sun when it is at its highest and hottest points during the day, typically between 10am and 4pm. You should avoid activities in the afternoon sun as much as possible, which means that you’ll need to schedule your outdoor activities carefully so you can avoid being outside when the day will be the hottest. The morning is a great time for outdoor activities, especially for younger kids.

8. Stay Hydrated

Water glass

Drink plenty of water when the weather is hot even if you aren’t feeling thirsty, as it is essential to help your body regulate your core temperature. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are participating in any outdoor activities or if you are in the sun. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks, as they might increase dehydration. Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided, as they might increase your chances of falling victim to heat illness and impair your balance, coordination and judgment, leading to possible accidents and injuries.

9. Stay Inside

Take advantage of any the public libraries, aquariums, museums and other public buildings or commercial venues that are near you when the days get too hot. And since they’re always freezing, the summer is a great time to enjoy that local indoor ice-skating rink or cool movie theater. These public venues are always air-conditioned, protected from the sun and a fun way to spend the day when you just can’t handle the heat at home.

10. Try A DIY Cooler

If your home doesn’t have air conditioning and fans just aren’t cutting it, try some do-it-yourself cooling techniques to bring the temperature down in your home. You can create a small cooler by placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan, thus blowing cooled and moisturized air where you need it most. Moist towels or sheets can also be hung in front of fans for the same effect. You can also soak towels in water or even freeze them and place them directly on your head or the back of your neck for instant cooling, which can be especially useful when nights are oppressively hot and you need something to help you cool down and fall asleep.

This summer, beat the heat, don’t let the heat beat you!. By taking advantage of these tips to help you survive the heat, you can enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures without losing your cool.

5 Benefits of Dehumidifiers

While excessive moisture in the air can be uncomfortable, high humidity levels present dangers to you and your home beyond feelings of discomfort. From mold and mildew to structural damage to your home, the effects of excessive humidity will begin to rear their ugly head if not kept under control. Dehumidifiers offer many benefits beyond eliminating dampness, and here’s why you should consider using one in your home.

1. Helps With Allergies & Dust Mites

High humidity can increase the amount of dust mites in a home, which in turn will lead to an increase in allergy and asthma issues. If dust mites are a problem throughout your home, then a whole house dehumidifier is the best solution for getting rid of them and helping your family breathe more easily.

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4 Steps to Ease Your Suffering from Spring Allergies

Changes in season often bring upon seasonal allergies. Although people tend to most readily associate the chilly winter weather with illness, each season in fact has something to watch out for, and springtime is no exception. Although you may be looking forward to the increase in sunshine and the bright colors of spring flowers, keep in mind that while the countryside is blooming around you, you might also become more susceptible to allergic reactions.

Spring Allergies

Springtime allergies are often mild, yet they can nevertheless be quite irritating. Fortunately, by staying informed, linking triggers to symptoms, and taking appropriate preventive measures, you can minimize your chances of suffering from these annoying bouts of sneezing and sniffling.

1. Be Informed

What are Allergies? What am I Allergic to?
Allergies are hypersensitivities to certain substances that are otherwise harmless. For reasons unknown, the body treats these substances as hazardous invaders and mounts an immune reaction against them. Some people have severe allergic reactions to certain food products that could result in their death, while other people only have mild reactions to certain pollens in the air. Some people have no known allergies, although it is typical for people to experience some sort of mild pollen-related allergy during springtime. It is important to know the common allergens in your area and to ascertain which ones are causing you issues. Keep a journal of when you have symptoms and where you are when they appear or worsen. This will help you pinpoint your triggers.
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Is it Better to Make Baby Food from Scratch?

Baby Brezza Baby Food Maker

With celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Tori Spelling and others touting the benefits of making their own baby food, baby food makers are creating a huge buzz in the press lately. Most fads surrounding the Hollywood scene don’t have staying power, but this time they are definitely onto something.

Making your own baby food is great for your baby, because it allows you to know exactly what your little one is eating. You can maximize the nutrition count while avoiding the preservatives, additives and other potentially detrimental ingredients. In fact, the benefits of making your own baby food span beyond just health. In doing so, you are eliminating the use of all of the packaging, which ultimately reduces your family’s environmental footprint. And, possibly the best benefit of making your own baby food, you will end up with extra cash in your pocket! Recent studies show that you can save 50% or more on your baby food costs if you make it yourself at home.

The Baby Brezza baby food maker is an all-in-one solution, perfect for busy moms. Simply add your ingredients in the bowl, set your steam time and let the baby food make take care of the rest! The simple automated process steams and blends the food for you. Worried about creating a mess? Don’t be. Both the bowl and blade are dishwasher safe. Furthermore, the BPA and phthalate-free construction ensures that this product is safe for your kids.

Here is a great recipe from Baby Brezza for children 6 months & up:

Homemade Baby Food Recipe: Sweet Potato & Banana Puree


1 Medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (2 cups, 10 ounces)
1/2 Small banana, peeled and sliced (1/3 cup, 1-1/2 ounces)
Optional: cinnamon or nutmeg to taste


1. Steam sweet potato for 20 minutes
2. Add banana and puree to smooth
3. Remove from bowl and add water, breast milk or formula to desired consistency
4. Optional: Stir in cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Yields: 13 oz.

Keeping Your Resolution to Get Fit in 2012

As the clock ticked to 2012, many of us pledged the same resolution we do each year and that’s to get in shape, lose the extra pounds from the holidays, and really, just lead an overall healthier lifestyle. With the help of a few key appliances, this year could be a lot easier to keep your resolution and stay motivated and all without even visiting a gym!

Check out these products that will aid in your transition to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year:

Kettler Exercise Bike1. Kettler Polo M Exercise Bike

By investing in a Kettler exercise bike, you’ll be able to work out on your own time and in the comfort of your own home. Exercising at home is great because it’s so much more convenient than driving to the gym and you can even catch a couple of episodes of your favorite TV show while burning a few hundred calories.

This model is perfect to track progress to your goal with the easy-to use display showing your calories burned, distance traveled and even your heart rate during the workout.


Deni Food Steamer2. Deni 3 Tier Digital Food Steamer – Stainless Steel

A food steamer is a great way to get started with a healthy cooking routine. Not only can steaming retain 50% more vitamins and nutrients than boiling, but another bonus is you can prepare your entire meal with just the use of this product.

The extra tiers on the Deni model allow you to steam everything from rice to seafood and, of course, vegetables all at the same time.


Cuisinart Electric Blender3. Cuisinart Smart Power 7-Speed Electric Blender

No kitchen would be complete without a multi-speed blender. The Cuisinart 7-speed electric blender is powerful enough to mix, chop, crush or pulse whatever healthy meal or snack you’re making.

Smoothies and protein shakes will be a beneficial addition to your new lifestyle and a breeze for this powerful blender.


I wish you the best of luck in staying motivated and reaching your goal this year — I know you can do it! Check out our full line of fitness equipment, steamers and blenders for additional options to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.