Fabulous Fourth of July BBQ Tips

Get out the sparklers and fire up the grill! Independence Day is almost upon us, and it’s the perfect opportunity for summer entertaining. A classic BBQ is a lovely, relaxed way to gather friends and family. It’s easy to plan, fun to decorate, and transitions well from day into night. In other words, perfect for the 4th! So here are my top tips for hosting a cookout that your guests will enjoy and remember long after the fireworks have faded.

Lean in to the palette. When it comes to color, I often try to change things up and avoid the predictable combinations (like orange and black at Halloween). But Independence Day is the exception! Anything but red, white and blue can feel a little unpatriotic, so I find the best thing is to embrace the colors (as well as the stars and stripes motif) and enjoy them. That doesn’t mean that you have to opt for tired décor ideas like bunting. Choose beautiful linens and tableware in crisp white and denim blue and then bring in pops of red as an accent through flowers or glassware. Opt for flag-colored cocktails or food. For example, this classy red, white and blue appetizer tray I found via Martha Stewart, or a tray of cherry, lemon and blueberry popsicles.

Preparation is key. Summer food is one of the best things about a July 4th party, so don’t skimp on prep time. For example, for the juiciest ribs, prepare the meat by pre-cooking and then marinating them in BBQ sauce. Invest in good cocktail ingredients and the freshest of fruit garnishes, served on an elegant bar cart. (You could even freeze strawberries and blueberries into ice cubes to add a festive touch to plain water.) Also, make a range of delicious side dishes for guests to enjoy including dips, salads and good ol’ corn on the cob.

Keep guests comfortable. Summer entertaining comes with its hazards, from sunburn to insect bites to unexpectedly chilly evenings. Prioritize your guests’ comfort by providing a summer supplies station that includes fans, bug spray, sunscreen and chapstick. Make sure there’s plenty of water at hand. And as night falls, drape soft throws on chair backs so guests can reach for them if they get cold.

Create atmosphere with hanging lights and lanterns. A backyard bash calls for hanging lanterns and café lights that really create that magical, intimate atmosphere. For extra patriotic points, opt for star shaped lanterns – a fun way to bring the flag into your décor.

Firework favors. Sparklers or party poppers make a perfect 4th of July party favor. If you’re having a seated meal, place a small bunch tied with ribbon at each setting, or place them in a basket or vase and invite guests to help themselves. Just make sure they are legal in your area first.

How will you celebrate this year?