Hosting a backyard barbecue is one of the highlights of the warmer months, but it’s never without a side of chaos. There’s the obvious challenge of prep and clean up, for starters, but one also cannot underestimate the attention required to keep things running smoothly throughout the event. Food needs to stay fresh, drinks need to stay cold, and tables need to stay clean enough as people mingle and enjoy themselves.
Fortunately, some backyard barbecue professionals out there have found plenty of hacks to make your event as seamless as possible. Some people put on a screen door magnetic closure to move in and out smoothly; some repurpose muffin tins in more than one way. Whatever your style, here’s a few barbecue hacks to keep the crowd happy all day long.
- Install a Magnetic Closure Screen Door
We’ll start with one of the first things you should do before hosting a backyard barbecue: install a magnetic closure screen door. Never heard of such a thing? You’re not the only one, but they’re catching on fast. Put simply, a screen door with magnetic closure acts as a regular screen door, but it’s not bound by a stiff door frame and doesn’t swing open on a hinge. Instead, the screen covers the door like a sheet, with magnets in the center so it can split open easily to let people in and out. Screen door? Check. Magnetic closure? Also check.
These magnetic closure screen doors are absolute game changers as a host. You can bring trays of food and drinks in and out all day long, and you’ll never have to put something down to slide open the door. You simply breeze through it, and it closes on its own behind you. It solves the dilemma of leaving a door open for convenience but having to deal with the bugs after. In fact, they’re so good, you’ll probably want to leave it up all season. Say goodbye to the constant slamming of a screen door and say hello instead to the soft snap as the magnets meet in the middle. The ultimate backyard barbecue hack.
- Put Your Muffin Trays to Use
We’re not suggesting you add muffins or cupcakes to the menu for your backyard barbecue. Instead, save your muffin trays for a more useful purpose when the big day rolls around. Muffin trays are the perfect condiment trays for ketchup, mustard, relish, tomatoes, onions, and anything else you might want to put on a burger or hot dog. They also serve as an excellent drink tray, especially if you’re serving up chilled wine in small plastic wine cups. You can pour inside, breeze through your screen door with magnetic closure, and deliver 12 perfect pours of chilled white wine to the table.
- Aluminum Foil = Ultimate Grill Cleaner
It turns out you don’t need any fancy tools to keep your grill clean. When balled up, aluminum foil has plenty of rough edges and just enough sharpness to act as the perfect scrubber for a grill. Heat up your grill first, then ball up a piece of aluminum foil and use your grill tongs to scrape it across your grill. It’ll work just as well, and you can just toss it out after. A clean grill with less clean up. Can’t complain about that.
- Don’t Skimp on the Skewers
Trust us on this one: it’s worth it to use two skewers for each kebab on the grill if it means you’ll lose fewer pieces to the coal underneath. This is one of the most important hacks we have to share if you’re making kebabs. We’ve all been there: you have the perfectly marinated kebab set up, but when you grill them, they’re spinning all around the skewer and you’re losing some of the best pieces. It seems obvious, but by using two skewers instead of one and keeping just a little space between them, you’ll avoid the spin and those devastating losses.
- Set Up a Dirty Dish Bin
Naturally, the easiest option for a backyard barbecue is to use paper or plastic plates and utensils. But you can still go eco-friendly without the mess of dirty plates on tables. Find a large, multi-gallon plastic bucket or bin and label it as the dirty dish bin for people to put their plates in when they’re done. Set it next to the trash can so guests can dump their scraps first, and they’ll be doing half the cleanup for you without even realizing it.
- Burger Umbrellas
One popular idea floating out there is to mark each burger with ketchup to communicate to guests how done the meat is. The issue with that? It takes away from your guests’ ability to customize their burger using the muffin-tray toppings station you’ve set up. Really, though, not everybody wants their burgers pre-ketchuped. So get yourself a pack of cocktail umbrellas and designate each color for a level of doneness. Then, serve the burgers on a tray, each one with its own umbrella, and let the guests know the color key. This way they can get the right burger and apply their own ketchup.
- Pre-Scoop the Ice Cream
It turns out everything we need to make cupcakes or muffins doubles as everything we never knew we needed at a barbecue. Rather than getting your already dirty hands dirtier when it’s time to scoop the ice cream, put your cupcake liners to use and scoop it ahead of time. A scoop or two will fit in an average cupcake liner. Then, stick the pre-scooped desserts back into the freezer and bring them out when the time comes. Another barbecue hassle, eliminated.
Creative Convenience is Key
Backyard barbecues are all about fun, but when you’re the host, they’re also all about convenience. If you start by installing a screen door with magnetic closure, the rest of these tips are made even more possible. So get out your muffin trays and your cupcake liners, and get ready to serve up some meat!