5 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting People in Your Backyard
Consider this your pre-party to-do list.
Hosting an outside event presents more challenges than hosting an inside one. You have to account for the weather (Did it rain overnight? Looks like you've got to dry off the furniture!), bugs (Make sure the potato salad is clear of critters!), and the fact that most of your utensils probably need to be moved to your outside cooking station. However, when done correctly, you get to enjoy the sunshine, play yard games, and nosh on food that would have been off-limits if you were stuck in the kitchen. To ensure things go off without a hitch, keep reading to hear from experts about the things you should never do when hosting people in your backyard.
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Not offer non-alcohol beverages.
For most backyard parties, you'll want to provide beer, wine, and maybe even a mixed drink. But don't get so caught up at the liquor store that you forget to provide regular beverages.
"It's essential to remember that not all guests may consume alcohol or have personal preferences for non-alcoholic drinks," says Cristy Stewart-Harfmann, founder of Happy Family Blog. "Ensure you have an assortment of beverages, including non-alcoholic options like water, juices, sodas, and mocktails, so everyone can find a drink that suits their taste and requirements."
Better yet, keep a drink dispenser with ice water on an outdoor table. Guests will be able to help themselves to keep cool and hydrated, especially during the hot summer months.
Not account for weather conditions.
You'll also want to keep tabs on the weather forecast and ensure your party is set up to deal with any possible conditions.
"Provide shade through umbrellas, canopies, or awnings to protect against excessive sun exposure," says Stewart-Harfmann. "In cooler weather, offer blankets or outdoor heaters to keep guests warm."
Additionally, keep extra sunscreen and bug spray near your party space so guests can help themselves should they need it.
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Not have an extra cooler.
Just because you filled a cooler to the brim with drinks in the morning doesn't mean you'll be good to go all day. Chris Olds, head cook for the competition BBQ team Tipsy Brisket, says you can pretty much rely on guests bringing their own drinks—and you'll want a cold place to store them.
"If your cooler is already full, they will have warm drinks or be trying to find ways to stuff the drinks into your cooler," says Olds. Keep an empty one filled with ice at the ready.
If you can, you should also leave some room in your refrigerator for last-minute contributions.
"Guests love to bring desserts or cold appetizers to parties, and it can be quite problematic trying to find room in an already full fridge," Olds explains. "Make sure to leave space before hosting your BBQ or have a spare fridge in the garage ready to take the extra load."
Not scan your yard for obstacles.
Yards typically have more places for guests to accidentally hurt themselves than indoor spaces. So, before your party, scan the area for anything hazardous.
"Check that the yard is clear of tripping hazards, such as loose wires, tools, or uneven surfaces," says Stewart-Harfmann. "It's also crucial to secure any sharp or dangerous objects that could harm guests, especially if children are present."
If your party is going into the evening, you should also have proper lighting, which will add ambiance and protect against trips and falls.
"It might seem insignificant, but inadequate lighting can lead to accidents and injuries, especially when the sun sets," says Jakob Miller, chef, BBQ expert, and founder of Barbecue Pals. "Make sure your outdoor space is well-illuminated, whether through string lights, lanterns, or pathway lighting."
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Not account for outdoor food safety.
Mike Futia, the founder of Grill Frenzy, says one of the biggest mistakes he sees people making when hosting outdoors is improper food safety—specifically, leaving perishable food in the heat for too long.
According to the FDA, the "danger zone" for bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses is between 40 and 140 degrees. Keep cold foods refrigerated until it's time to serve them and hot foods on the grill or hotplates.
"Another thing I like to do when I'm hosting is to serve food in smaller batches, replenishing them from the refrigerator or oven as needed," says Futia. Your guests will appreciate the freshness and the commitment to keeping them healthy.