This post is sponsored by Tyson Foods, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
With the passing of Memorial Day, we are officially in the summer time mood and what’s more summer than a backyard cookout? We love inviting our neighbors and friends to turn on the grill and celebrate the warm weather. It’s such a fun way to be together and usually a pretty inexpensive way to feed a large group too. Planning a cookout soon? Check out these 10 backyard cookout essential tips to get you started off on the right foot.
Make sure you have enough food
This one is key! Figure out how many people you have coming and be sure to have plenty of main choices, sides and desserts. If your cookout is potluck style, make sure you don’t have too many duplicate dishes being brought by guests. It’s nice to serve a variety of choices. You can keep it simple and just do hamburgers and hotdogs or you can spice it up and do sausage, BBQ chicken or fish. Sometimes it’s nice to do a combo of those and offer a choice for people. Try pairing a cookout essential like Ball Park® Hot Dogs and Ball Park® Hot Dog Buns with some upscaled options for the perfect combo!
I like to make sure I have a few “lighter” choices at these backyard events, and this lightened up chicken salad is perfect for it. Made with Tyson® Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts and a few fresh ingredients, it’s super easy to whip up and is great served either on a bun or just lettuce for a healthier snack.
- 3 cups shredded cooked Tyson® Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
- 1 small green onion, peeled and finely-diced
- ½ cup toasted pecans
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Poach your Tyson® Frozen Boneless Skinless Breasts in some chicken stock until cooked, then shred is using two forks.
- After, add all ingredients to a large bowl, and toss until combined.
Make sure you also have enough seats
What if you have five patio chairs and 25 guests? Consider how many guests you will be having and plan accordingly. Check out indoor furniture options. The easiest solution is to just move your kitchen or dining chairs out back, along with any stools or other chairs. If you’re keeping things casual, you can even spread pretty quilts on the ground and let people gather picnic-style; this is especially a nice choice for the kids.
Use easy to clean dishes
I hate using too many disposal items but these types of events are perfect for them, or if you don’t want to go that route, get some nicer looking plastic or melamine options that you can reuse and won’t break if anyone drops them- same with the glasses. Plastic ones are perfect for this!
Make a variety of beverages
Besides for the mandatory ice cold beer and wine selection, be sure to have some non-alcohol options too. Lemonade, black iced tea and water are good options. NEW Lipton® Herbal Ice Tea from Walmart are a delicious option and so easy to make! My favorite is the strawberry watermelon but the mango is pretty tasty as well. They are caffeine free too so it’s great for the whole family. Toss in some fresh berries and mint and you are ready to rock!
Look out for the NEW Lipton® Herbal Ice Tea Bags coming to your local Walmart this month!
Have kid-friendly options
No matter what you are planning on serving, be sure to get some kid-friendly choices too. The classic hot dog or simple burger are always great. My kids love Ball Park® Hot Dogs and Ball Park® Hot Bun, so those are a staple at every cookout. They are easy to grill up, taste great and are a crowd favorite! Check out your local Walmart to pick up these and other kid friendly choices, like popsicles, juice boxes, or fun outside games.
Have enough lighting
You don’t want your guests to be eating in the dark so be sure your patio or yard lighting is sufficient. If you need extra, an easy solution is to hang strings of lights on the deck, fence, or tree branches. You can add some hurricane lanterns or tea lights to tables. Globe string light have a pretty shape that give off a warm glow and are a nice choice as well!
Plan some fun games or activities
No one will have fun at a cookout if their kids are bored! If you have a pool and the weather is nice, then you are probably all set, but if not, then get some yard games, water balloons, a hose, slip and slide, bubbles or balls and bats (or any combo of those!) so the kids can have plenty of options! Another fun idea is to get a few inexpensive disposable cameras and let the kiddies serve as official event photographers.
Keep Mosquitos away
Nothing wrecks a nice outdoor party or cookout than bugs!! Fill your tables with citronella candles, which will help make the mosquitos take off as well as add a nice light. A fan can help too, if you have one outside. Also consider having out a basket of bug spray or bug spray wipes for your guests, if your area is really prone to bugs.
Have some tunes for everyone
Every cookout is better with some tunes! Make sure you have a few speakers or one louder one that can play some classic jams for your event. Don’t make it too loud so everyone can’t hear one another talk. Also, depending on your crowd, stick to the classics and consider throwing in some modern stuff too. Make sure your playlist is varied enough or do a streaming service that you can just set it and forget it.
And Don’t forget to KEEP IT SIMPLE
Cookouts are suppose to be fun and relaxing. Don’t let it get out of hand and let yourself get stressed. Simple dishes, quality ingredients, cold drinks, fun music and great company is pretty much all you need for the perfect cookout! Keep the majority of your food grilled or prepared before hand so you can be out, enjoying the party. Stick with simple sides too like watermelon, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and cucumber from the garden, fresh peaches, and other sides that are seasonal and pretty much ready to go as they come are always crowd favorites. Don’t forget simple desserts too! S’mores, ice box cakes or popsicles are great choices.