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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Save These Ideas

Save these backward barbecue tips for later by pinning this image, and follow Ikaroo on for more summer ideas.

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summer party ideas pasta salad
Brian Woodcock
Whip up an Easy Pasta Salad

It's not a barbecue without this classic side dish! The best part about pasta salad is you can make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Check out our favorite summer pasta salad recipes.

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summer party ideas stock tank
Cool Down in a Stock Tank

No pool? No problem! Between the warm weather and the hot grill, your guests will definitely be feeling the heat. Transform a stock tank into a pool so everyone can take a little dip.

Get the tutorial.

Tools you'll need: stock tank ($104, )

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summer party ideas corn
Thrifty T's Treasures
Cook Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

Save space on the stove and the grill by preparing corn on the cooler. It's a great hack when you're serving a larger crowd and takes just 30 minutes.

Get the tutorial at .

Tools you'll need: Rubbermaid cooler ($33, )

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summer party ideas drink tags
G2 Plus
Use Gift Tags as Drink Labels


Between all the talking and walking, guests are bound to forget which glass is theirs. To keep everyone's beverage straight, set out gift tags so your guests can write their name and attach it to their cup. It's also a great way for strangers to get to know each other's names!

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summer party ideas sunscreen
Set Up Protective Spray Stations

Fill baskets with sunscreen and bug spray and put them around your yard. Everyone will stay bite-free and burn-free.

Tools you'll need: Cutter bug spray ($9, ); Banana Boat family size sport sunscreen ($10, ); stainless steel bucket ($9, )

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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

From $9

Before firing up the Weber, cut 10x10 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.

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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 your 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.

Get the tutorial at .

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summer party ideas coffee
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.

Get the tutorial 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.

Get the tutorial 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.

Get the tutorial 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 the recipe.

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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.

Get the tutorial 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.

Get the tutorial 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Consider the Peel
Introduce Oversized 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.

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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.

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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.

Get the tutorial at .

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