Labor Day is only a few weeks away. It’s an official holiday to celebrate American workers, which makes it the perfect day to relax and unwind before the end of summer.
To take full advantage of the still-warm weather, it’s almost a country-wide tradition to grill up some BBQ on the long weekend. And since hardly anyone grills just one kabob, it’s only natural to invite some friends, relatives, and coworkers over to share in the food and fun.
So if you’re ready to fire up your grill, here are 8 ways to make your Labor Day BBQ a success.
1. Create a basic timeline, but be flexible
Start time? Yes. End time? Maybe. Everything in-between? Up to you.
You don’t want to over-plan your holiday. After all, other people can be notoriously unpredictable. But you don’t want to leave it all up to chance, either.
Provide your guests with a start time, and expect them to arrive anytime after that. You can have some appetizers and snacks ready to go at the start of your Labor Day BBQ but plan to wait about an hour for the main food. That way, it won’t be sitting out for a long time while you wait for guests to arrive.
As for the end time, only you know if your guests are the type to leave when they’re full or stick around for hours.
2. Get the grill, food, and utensils ready
If the party starts at 3 pm, don’t wait until noon to head to the store, unless you like to live on the edge.
For a successful Labor Day party, make sure you have what you need at least a day in advance. It keeps you from scrambling. After all, when you’re less stressed, your guests can be at ease.
And don’t forget about the grill and utensils when you’re gathering food and supplies. Check that your grill has enough fuel, and that you have the right grilling accessories to prepare your meal with style and flair.
3. Arrange activities for all ages
Adults are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to entertainment. Many simply like to socialize. Or they leave when they get bored.
But kids? It’s a good idea to have a few games and activities arranged to keep them busy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Some frisbees and soccer balls, a sprinkler, or some arts and crafts are easy and won’t break the bank.
If you have a lot of school-aged children who will be attending, consider organizing a back-to-school supply gift exchange, with help from a group wishlist maker like Giftster.
For the adults? You can leave them to their own devices, but a successful Labor Day BBQ has a few activities for the older guests, too. Think s’mores and lawn games, great for all ages and ability levels.
4. Plan both indoor and outdoor spaces
Rain? Three-digit temperatures? Mosquito infestation? These are a few of the reasons that a Labor Day BBQ might not be able to exist 100% outdoors. But you might not want people in your house for hours, either.
Instead, plan both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Guests can take a break from the heat if they need to, but they can also gather around the grill and offer unsolicited BBQ advice if they’re so inclined.
Just make sure there’s plenty of seating so guests can mingle and eat as they enjoy the long weekend.
5. Encourage responsible drinking
A Labor Day BBQ is a great chance to celebrate and party. Guests can get a little out of hand, though, if they’re drinking a lot throughout the day.
In addition to the food, provide lots of water so everyone can stay hydrated. It’s fine to put your alcohol away after a certain time in the evening if you think you need to.
Ultimately, you want everyone to get home safely. Feel free to ask them if they can drive, or help arrange for a carpool, taxi, or rideshare.
6. Provide amenities, like sunscreen, bugspray, and shade
If you’re hosting, you probably already feel like you’re providing a lot for the guests: food, drinks, games, your house.
But if you add just a few extra items to your list of goodies, you’re sure to please the crowd at your Labor Day BBQ. Pick up some sunscreen and bug spray so everyone can apply as needed.
Lastly, try to create a few outdoor shady areas. Consider placing chairs under a tree, or adding a few pop-up umbrellas. You could even get some cheap Labor Day visors for sun protection and fun.
7. Make a variety of foods
It’s hard to please everyone all the time. But if you provide a variety of foods, you can get really close and have a successful Labor Day BBQ.
To prevent a significant amount of prep and cooking, plan for major grill items, like meat and veggies, and let everything else fall more into the category of snacks and desserts.
Think chips and dip, cheese and crackers, fruit, and cookies. You can throw together an easy pasta salad (if it’s easy for you), or buy some premade treats.
8. Enlist help as needed
You could probably plan an entire day of food and fun all on your own. But it could be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you plan to clean your house, spruce up your lawn, and prep lots of food before guests arrive.
The goal is to gather friends and family together for a celebration, so there’s nothing wrong with asking everyone to bring a side or dessert to share, or staying strictly BYOB. In fact, most guests will probably offer.
It might even be the one time during the summer you splurge on a professional lawn service or house cleaning, so you’re also relaxed and can enjoy the perfect BBQ.
Happy Labor Day!