Plan a Better Backyard Barbecue for Kids
Words Megan Gordon
After a long winter and wet spring, we’re doing a bit of celebrating here in Seattle as backyard barbecue season is in full swing! While many houses right in the city have relatively small yards, we make the best of our little patio with a simple grill, a sandbox for our son, a comfy outdoor couch, and string lights to tie the whole thing together. Before we had a rambunctious toddler, eating outdoors was a casual all-night affair, but now of course things are abbreviated and it takes a bit more intention and planning to pull things off successfully. Here’s what makes for a better barbecue and a good time for all in our house:
Pare Down Your Tools
There are people out there who really love their grills, and have all the latest gadgets and most up-to-date tools. But in reality you don’t need much to barbecue a good burger. We love our simple grilling tools and nestle them underneath the grill (when it’s off!) to keep them dry in case of off-season rain.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Barbecued chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob are all classics for a reason: they’re timeless and nostalgic and people look forward to them all season long. So why mess with a good thing? My general rule of thumb is to get creative with side dishes or salads, but I don’t mess with the standards. If you’re pressed for time, there’s no shame in a store bought barbecue sauce or dry rub.
Keep Beverages Minimal (and Cool)
It took me a long time to realize this, but one of the things that would often stress me out when hosting friends was the feeling that I had to have something on hand that everyone would really love to drink. Of course, you can never win this way as people’s tastes and dietary preferences constantly change, so I aim to keep things simple and encourage people to grab their own drinks. We put a little cooler out on the patio with some sparkling water, beer, and chilled wine. And I have lemonade or strawberry water for the kids. Done.
Think About Breakage
Broken glass and dishes in your lawn is inevitable if you have small people racing around. We love these melamine dishes for kids and I pull out a few of our snack bowls as well to safely contain sliced fruit or veggies for on-the-go pre-dinner snacking.
Keep ‘em Busy
Let’s face it: young kids need to be occupied during the time leading up to an evening meal. Turning on some music always encourages a little dancing in our house, and yard games or bubbles are always a hit. If it’s hot the night you’re planning to cook out, an inexpensive wading pool can really steal the show.