30+ Genius Ways to Throw a Better Backyard Barbecue

Steal these fast, fresh tips for your next outdoor affair.

It's summertime and—as the saying goes—the living is easy. Or at least it will be when you steal these fast, fresh tips for your next backyard BBQ.

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Pin this image!

Save these ideas on how to decorate for a backyard barbecue by pinning this image. Make sure to follow Ikaroo on  for more! 

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Courtesy of Elisabeth McKnight
Make DIY S'more Pots

What's an outdoor party without some s'mores? Guests will love these adorable, individual desserts. 

See more from . 

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Courtesy of Bless Her Heart Y'all
Sip on a Mint Julep

There's nothing better than enjoying a big batch of refreshing mint juleps while lounging in your backyard. 

Get the recipe at . 

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Courtesy of Kara's Party Ideas
Create a Cute Condiment Display

Go beyond basic ketchup and mustard by offering more unique options for hot dog and hamburger toppings, then display them in individual labeled buckets.

Get the tutorial at . 

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Courtesy of Wallflower Kitchen
Serve Refreshing Fruit-Infused Water

For your guests who don't want booze, this rose, lemon, and strawberry water makes a great drink option. 

Get the recipe at . 

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Courtesy of Mom on the Side
Boozy Watermelon Pops

What's better than watermelon? Watermelon infused with tequila!

Get the recipe at . 

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Tina Rupp
Label what's hot-off-the-grill with rubber stamps

Before firing up the Weber, cut 10- by 10-inch sheets of parchment paper, then use letter stamps to print rare, medium, and well done across the tops in equal number. Lay one on each plate, and when the meat comes off the coals, just slide it onto the dish with the corresponding label and let guests grab what they want.

Letter stamp set, $10.99

 

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You Could Make That
Let guests know what's on the menu

Coat a tall piece of plywood with black chalkboard paint for a professional-looking board. Blogger Nan used an overhead projector and white acrylic paint to add the "menu" graphic.

Get the tutorial at .

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Courtesy of Tablespoon
Turn a watermelon into a keg

You're going to be too busy having fun to play bartender—let you guests self-serve with this DIY watermelon drink dispenser.

Get the tutorial.

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Celebrations at Home
Use Popsicle sticks to label condiments

Wooden craft sticks do double duty in this hack, serving as both labels and spreading utensils.

Learn more at .

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Sew Many Ways
Use coffee filters as hot-dog holders

Eliminate the risk of ketchup and mustard spills by wrapping hot dogs in coffee filters — they're durable, lightweight, and more flexible than paper plates.

Learn more at .

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Saving Dollars and Sense
Make mess-free tacos

For Tex Mex-themed cookouts, reduce cleanup time and waste by adding taco fillings directly to bags of corn chips.

Learn more at .

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Beauty and Bedlam
Fill a kiddie pool with ice to keep food cold

Unlike a cooler, the pool's wide surface area accommodates multiple bowls and trays without stacking. Place it on a table where pets can't get to it.

Learn more at .

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Tina Rupp
Keep bugs out of the buffet

Sure, you could ward off ants and flies with plastic-wrapped bowls, but at some point the salad has to come out from under its cover. A much prettier — and more practical — solution: Pack side dishes in single-serving lidded jars. Spoon individual portions into the containers, then set out one for each guest.

Get our recipe for Corn and Chickpea Salad.

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Tina Rupp
Dress up bottles in one minute flat

Sparkling water and lemonade, jars of pickles, even soda bottles become part of the decor when wrapped in patterned paper secured with double-sided tape. Use scraps of gift wrap or wallpaper that match your color scheme.

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This Grandma is Fun
Get your grill ready for summer

Say sayonara to caked-on gunk with this cleaning method: Place your grill grate in a large plastic garbage bag with one cup of ammonia, seal it up tightly, and let the fumes work their magic.

Learn more at .

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Garden Therapy
Repel mosquitoes with herbs

Adding sage to a fire pit or warm grill (after you're done cooking) is just one way to kick bugs out of your backyard party.

Learn more at .

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Tina Rupp
Anchor tablecloths with rails of posies

Skip store-bought weights and make your own by filling tiny buckets with wildflowers and a half inch of water. Just suspend the bouquets from your tablecloth using a clip and fishing line or skinny ribbon. Tie and knot one end around the handle of the bucket and the other around the clip.

Three-inch pails, $9.99 for 12

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Tina Rupp
Create two drinks from one ingredient

Hibiscus syrup, which comes in a jar with 11 edible flowers, gives a floral note and a lovely red tinge to tall glasses of tea.

$11 for 8.8 ounces

 

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Tina Rupp
Dress up your bubbly

Adding one of the hibiscus buds to a flute of champagne literally makes it bloom.

$11 for 8.8 ounces

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Tina Rupp
Let the games begin!

There's no better solution for early arrivals and the post-lunch slump than a collection of no-skills-required lawn games. Set out a basket of Frisbees, Wiffle balls, and badminton rackets — along with a croquet set — all within view of the picnic table.

Croquet set, $139.95

 

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Consider the Peel
Introduce over-sized Scrabble

There are tons of backyard games you can make yourself, including this giant version of the classic word-making challenge. Break it out to help guests break the ice.

Get the tutorial at .

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Tina Rupp
Help guests keep their cool

Battle scorching sun, aggressive mosquitoes, and stifling temperatures with a few thoughtful amenities your friends will appreciate. Buy a supply of fans, sunblock and bug spray, and have everything at the ready when company comes.

Paper fans, $5.99 for 12

 

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Tina Rupp
Turn holiday lights into summer sparklers

With a little embellishment, Christmas lights become twinkling flowering vines, crawling along a porch post and railing. To make these blooms, puncture the bottoms of paper muffin cups in the center and slide one over each bulb.

Tokyo Blue cups, $5.50 for 50

 

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The Chic Site
Prep ice cream ahead of time

Pre-scoop ice cream into cupcake liners to store in the freezer until ready to serve. You'll save yourself time and stress on the day of the party and won't have to worry about ice cream melting in the hot sun while you're serving.

Learn more at .

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Tina Rupp
Simplify the sundae

For a fancier dessert, dress up cones before the party starts to streamline the dessert-bar process. To make these treats — think of them as environmentally friendly bowls and toppings all in one — just dip each cone in melted white or milk chocolate and roll in tiny marshmallows, coconut flakes, chopped nuts, crushed cookies, or candy chips. Set out a selection of ice cream flavors chilled in a tub of ice, and dessert is done — without your taking a single order.

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Hang lights wherever you want

You don't need a pergola or porch to add twinklers. Stylist Emily Henderson creates posts for string lights by filling buckets with rocks and anchoring bamboo polls in them.

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Tina Rupp
Recycle with style

Guests don't have to guess where to stash their trash when you spell it out for them. Buy colorful enameled metal buckets, then label them with stick-on vinyl letters.

(Thickers vinyl stickers, $4.99 per sheet; for stores. Ten-quart glossy pail, $10.49, and 16-quart, $12.75; .)

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One Charming Party
Give the kids something to do

While grown ups may be content to relax with a beverage, younger folks have energy to burn. This giant bubble wand, made using a hula hoop and a plastic pool, offers a fun distraction.

Get the tutorial at .

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Alison Goottee/Studio D
Punch up your plates

At your next self-serve soiree, help guests avoid a juggling act by hole punching disposable plates and attaching plastic utensils with a loop of twine. They'll have a free hand as they tackle the buffet—all the better for scooping an extra serving of your famous slaw.

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