The 6 Best Things to Ask Guests to Bring to a BBQ, Experts Say
It's a fun way to include them in the party planning.
Hosting a backyard barbecue involves managing many moving parts. You've got to clean the outside furniture and cushions, weed the garden, keep the bugs at bay, and maintain a watchful eye on the grill. So, when guests offer to bring supplies with them, it's a great way to offload a few tasks. And gone are the days when you could only ask visitors to bring "a six-pack and yourself." It's totally appropriate to request a range of items—and it's a fun way to make guests feel included. Here, party and etiquette experts tell us the best things to ask guests to bring to a BBQ. It's sure to be a fun one with these items on hand.
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What to Ask Guests to Bring to a BBQ
1. Folding Chairs and Tables
There's no need to rent extra seating—or pull inside furniture outside—when you can ask guests to bring some with them.
"No one has enough seating in their backyard, and extra tables are great for sitting down to eat as well as serving up the food," says Kimberly DeCarrera, a tailgating expert from RV Tailgate Life.
Camping chairs, beach chairs, folding chairs, and folding tables are all welcome additions. Many of them are easily portable, too, and won't be a burden for your guests.
2. A BBQ Playlist
Got a friend who always has a bopping playlist? Ask them to create one for your barbecue!
"Music is a great way to set the mood for the BBQ, and having a variety of playlists can ensure that there's something for everyone," says Melissa Baker, founder of FoodQueries. "It also gives guests the opportunity to share their music tastes and potentially introduce others to new songs or artists."
Give them a theme—even if it's as simple as "summer party hits"—and allow them to do their thing. A shared Spotify playlist is perfect for this sort of thing.
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3. Fans, Lights, or Heaters
Not even the best hosts can be expected to own these major appliances. However, some of your guests might—so there's no harm in asking them to see if bringing them over is possible.
"Fans, lights, and propane-based outdoor heaters are great for extending the time you can enjoy the party as well as making it more enjoyable," says Decarrera.
Just ensure you have enough space and an outlet or extension cord to plug them into.
4. Sides and Desserts
Sides and desserts are the ideal food items to ask guests to bring. "This way, if the guest is late or forgets, the BBQ can still go on without too much of an issue," says Jodi Smith, etiquette consultant at Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.
"You don't want to ask a friend who lives an hour away to bring something essential, such as hamburger buns or ice for the drink cooler, only to have them trapped in traffic, and you don't want to ask a kind yet scattered friend to bring something important only to have them arrive empty-handed," Smith adds.
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5. An Activity
Barbecues are meant to be fun, so a game is always welcome.
"I am always going to ask for an activity," says Smith. "From a slip-and-slide for the kids to a trivia game or karaoke for the adults, having an activity at the ready in case the energy starts to drop is key to hosting."
It's not a bad idea to have a few on hand yourself either.
6. Drinks They Want to Drink
Because barbecues are so casual, it's not necessary for guests to bring a fancy bottle of wine as a hostess gift. Instead, DeCarrera asks them to bring the beverage they want to drink.
"So if they want to bring a non-alcoholic or alcoholic drink, it should be something that they are comfortable and would like to drink," she says. "I always love having drinks other than typical wine, beer, and soft drinks—things like sangria, margaritas, and, lately, mocktails are great."
They can bring enough for a crowd if they want, but shouldn't feel obligated.