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Hosting a Summer Cookout

By Dillon Wallace

Summer and weekend cookouts are synonymous. A match made for each other.

And with that warm weather finally here, it’s time to spark up the grill and indulge in the fine culinary art of the weekend cookout.

But just what exactly sets an ordinary cookout from an extraordinary one. Your dad might say it’s that little “extra.” And he’s not wrong, because what cookout would be complete without cheesy dad jokes?

But punny dad jokes aside, here are some surefire tips on hosting a great cookout with friends and family this summer.

Bust out the yard games

Part of hosting a cookout is making sure you’re guests are entertained prior to the meat feast. That means lots of yard games to prevent your hungry guests from turning into hangry guests. If you’re halfway decent with a saw and a hammer, you can make your own yard games to save a few bucks. But if you’re unsure about your carpentry skills or just don’t have the time to build that set of cornhole or ladder golf, you can always buy them online.

My personal favorite yard game you’ve probably never heard of, Kubb. If you’ve never played it, then you’re about to be introduced to your new favorite yard game. And you’re welcome.

Keep the drinks flowing

It’s summer. That means it’s hot. And incredibly humid if you’re a midwesterner or southerner. The best way to remedy such heat, you ask? Copious amounts of liquids. Whether it’s a family friendly affair with lemonade, soda and tea or a more mature gathering with beer, mules and the hard stuff, providing a wealth of drink options for your guests is a sure way to keep your cookout cool even when the grill heats up.

Theme up your cookout

Sure, a cookout on the 4th of July will be celebrated in a clad of red, white and blue. But just because there isn’t a holiday to celebrate, it doesn’t mean you have to skip the theme idea. After all, a cookout is just another form of a party and people theme those all the time. So this summer, try a fresh approach with a themed cookout. If it’s Harry Potter, you can even recreate your own Qudditch game in your backyard for guests to partake in. That’s killing two birds – theme and games – with one party stone … or Bludger for you HP nerds.

Upgrade your grill skills

Anyone can throw some ground beef and hotdogs on some coals and call it a cookout. But something different? Something unique? That will keep guests surprised and ready to come back for seconds. So this summer think beyond the bun with something a little more adventurous – like turkey stuffed peppers, steaks and sweet potatoes, fish and veggie kabobs and more.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that probably not all your guests are meat eaters. So make sure to whip up some vegetarian options, like grilled mushrooms or tofu burgers to ensure everyone has something delicious from the grill.

Think on the sweeter side

If there’s one thing that’s certain when it comes to a good cookout, it’s that guests aren’t ready to stop eating when they’re full. It’s like going to grandma’s house. “No, I’m full” really just means they’re ready for dessert. And nothing screams sweet guilty pleasure like some homemade pies, cookies and cake. So if you want to own your cookout, make sure you own the sweet tooth of your guests.

Flame on

Long after your grill’s burners have flickered out, it’s time to ignite the night with some fire. Whether it’s a fire pit that everyone can gather around or some perimeter tiki torches to set the mood and keep the bugs at bay, people love the hypnotizing power of fire. Sure, it might be on the upside of 90 degrees outside, but when the sun goes down, nothing keeps the cookout raging like a little fire.


Document the day

What’s a gathering of your loved ones without some great photo ops? On a beautiful day, you’ve got the perfect natural light to snap some selfies and group pictures or record some video of that unbelievable behind-the-back cornhole toss to commemorate the day. Speaking of, if you’ve got some old summer memories, like your own childhood cookouts that you’d like to preserve, then send those old photos and videos into Southtree to get them digitized and let the summer fun shine on for years to come!

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