BBQ birthday party ideas for adults: friends happily having a toast

It’s hard to not to have a great time at a BBQ party. If you’re looking for a fun and laid-back way to celebrate a birthday party, consider throwing a backyard BBQ celebration. Here, we’ve gathered some of our favorite BBQ birthday party ideas for adults — from decor and games to grub and libations.

12 BBQ Birthday Party Ideas for Adults

BBQ birthday party ideas for adults: friends playing table football

Hosting a cookout is the perfect way to get your favorite folks together for drinks, food, and fun. Whether you’re looking for decor tips, game ideas, or food inspiration, you’ll find what you need for the perfect summer cookout. Here are some of our favorite BBQ birthday party ideas for adults.

1. Grab the Essentials

Preparation is key when planning any event, including an adult birthday BBQ. Make sure to buy enough charcoal, lighter fluid, and propane for the grill before the party starts. Nothing’s worse than having to leave the burgers on the grill and run to the gas station for more fuel!

Also, don’t forget any condiments for the foods you decide to serve. Disposable plates make clean-up a breeze, and you can opt for biodegradable versions to make it a bit more eco-minded. Place trash bins in a couple of different places so guests can easily clean up after themselves — making less work for you at the end of the party.

2. Make It a Potluck

Hosting a party doesn’t mean you need to do all of the work yourself. When sending out your potluck invitations, ask guests to bring along a side dish, snack, or main dish. You can make suggestions for classic fare like potato salad, corn on the cob, or pasta salad

You can also include a link to a sign-up sheet where guests can choose from ideas like watermelon slices, kebabs, or veggie platters. This way, everyone brings a different dish for variety. Make different categories, like appetizers, mains, and side dishes so guests can easily figure out what they’d like to bring.

3. Light Up the Space

Set the mood with decorative outdoor lighting. You can hang string lights across your backyard trees or suspend them from a patio or deck. You can also set out battery-powered tea candle lights or lanterns to create soft lighting. To play things up, add glow sticks or neon lights for a colorful and festive vibe.

4. Set Up a Cocktail Corner

BBQ birthday party ideas for adults: glasses of cocktails on a table

Since this list is all about BBQ birthday party ideas for adults, we have to mention libations. Serve mocktails if you prefer to skip the alcohol or offer a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Opt for crowd pleasers like margaritas, piña coladas, and mojitos or consider DIY birthday cocktails

Make drinks in large pitchers for easy serving or hire a bartender to keep the party going late into the evening. For a truly fuss-free approach, fill a cooler or two with ice, cold brews, and maybe a few bottles of bubbly.

5. Play Yard Games

Planning an al fresco get-together is a great opportunity to play fun outdoor party games. Set up a few lawn games like cornhole, horseshoes, and croquet. Cool off and share some laughs with a slip-and-slide or run through the sprinklers like you did when you were kids. Make it a competition and offer prizes to the winners or keep it laid-back with mellow games. 

If you want to play outdoor drinking games, consider beer pong, slip and flip cup, or have races where guests try to run as fast as they can while carrying a tray of drinks.

6. Show Off Your Grilling Skills

BBQs are all about delicious food and showing off your grilling skills. Cook up meat skewers, hot dogs, burgers, and more for your friends and family. You can also make it vegan-friendly with tofu, grilled veggies, and smoky fruit skewers

If you’re not a grilling expert, don’t worry. There are lots of videos and tutorials you can use to nail the basics. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — someone is surely ready to help you master the grill.

7. Turn It Up With a Theme

While a BBQ is a theme on its own, you can amp up the fun with a creative themed party. Host a western-themed party and ask guests to wear Dungarees, cowboy boots, and hats. You can also go for a farmer’s market or BBQ picnic party with farm-to-table foods and gingham tablecloths. For even more ideas, check out our list of creative birthday party themes for adults

8. Gather Around the Fire 

BBQ birthday party ideas for adults: portrait of a bonfire

Cozy up around a fire pit and tell spooky ghost stories from your childhood. You can even supply graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate to make s’mores. If you don’t want the fun to end, let guests know in your digital invitations that they’re welcome to stay overnight and camp in the backyard.

9. Serve Summer Desserts

Cool off on a hot summer day at your birthday BBQ with classic summer desserts like Ice cream and popsicles. You can also serve shaved ice or set up an entire ice cream bar for guests to dream up their own concoctions.

10. Fend Off the Critters

Time in the great outdoors (even if it’s just your backyard) means sharing space with a few pesky bugs. Avoid mosquito bites by offering bug spray to guests. Citronella candles double as mood lighting and help to ward off biting bugs. Fans are a great way for guests to avoid bites or you can hang mosquito netting over tables if the situation requires it.

11. Have Fun With Outdoor Decor

No event is complete without party decorations. Balloons, streamers, and confetti are perfect for birthday parties. For a rustic BBQ vibe, you can also add things like burlap, raffia twine on candles, and rope decor. Gingham patterns are ideal for picnic-style BBQs and they add cheerful ambiance to any space. For centerpieces, you can set out vases of fresh flowers from the garden or summertime favorites like sunflowers.

12. Splish and Splash at a BBQ Pool Party

If it’s going to be a scorcher during your BBQ birthday shindig, plan on cooling off with a pool party for adults. Take your barbecue party to the next level with giant floaties like flamingos, clam shells, and pineapples. It’s the perfect way to celebrate a 21st birthday party or other milestone birthday.

5 Invitation Designs for Your BBQ Birthday Bash

BBQ birthday party ideas for adults: family having dinner in their garden

With these summer BBQ party ideas, you’re sure to have a refreshingly good time with your friends and family. Once you have a date, time, and location set, invite guests to the big bash. Here are some of our favorite BBQ birthday party invites, including funny designs and more sophisticated options.

1. Stacked Burger Invitation

Stacked Burger Invitation

Design: Jen Montgomery

This bold and fun invite is ideal for any outdoor party. Use it to celebrate the 4th of July or a friend’s birthday party with a backyard barbecue.

2. The Perfect Picnic Invitation

The Perfect Picnic Invitation

Design: Becky Nimoy Stationery

For a sophisticated backyard BBQ party, pick this sweet picnic invite. It features a large gingham picnic blanket adorned with classic fare including wine glasses, fruits, and sweets. The supported backside offers plenty of space for potluck requests or themed dress code instructions.

3. Watermelon Whimsy Invitation

Watermelon Whimsy Invitation

Design: Patrice Horvath Design

Add some whimsy to your barbeque party with this magical invite. Featuring colorful watermelon slices, it’s perfect for summer birthdays and other warm-weather celebrations.

4. Summer Pineapple Invitation

Summer Pineapple Invitation

Design: Noonday Design

Celebrate the sweetness of summer with this pineapple-themed invite. Featuring a watercolor pineapple and gold foil border, it’s perfect for adding a hint of elegance to your BBQ party.

5. Fire Pit Invitation

Fire Pit Invitation

Design: Laura Bolter Design

Planning the hottest party of the summer? This flame-inspired invite is perfect for ensuring guests are counting down the days until the big event. It’s ideal for adult birthdays as well as campouts and cookouts.

Plan the Perfect Backyard BBQ Birthday Bash

Planning a BBQ party doesn’t have to be complicated and you can keep things casual. You don’t need much more than food, a few games, and some decorative touches. At the end of the day, you’re celebrating another trip around the sun and the focus should be on having fun.

With these BBQ birthday party ideas for adults, get ready to have a memorable time. Need more help planning? Continue browsing our Stationers blog where you’ll find everything from birthday party theme ideas to summer BBQ do’s and don’ts so you can plan the perfect day.