Family having a summer BBQ party

No matter the occasion, the crowd, or the cuisine, we can all agree that summertime is the perfect time for a BBQ party. To help you plan the ultimate summer BBQ, we’ve compiled some must-do tips so your cookout is a blast, not a bust. Plus, you’ll find matching invitations to ensure guests are counting down the days to your summer BBQ bash.

Do’s and Don’ts of Summer BBQ Parties

Summer BBQ: couple grilling outside

When it comes to planning a summer BBQ, there’s no single way to pull off the perfect party. However, there are some do’s and don’ts to ensure you have a stress-free planning process and make the event enjoyable for everyone. Here are a few things to do — and a few to avoid — when planning your summer BBQ event.

Do: Kick Off the Party 

Whether it’s a birthday party, 4th of July celebration, family reunion, or simply an excuse to toast the summer, step up and be the one to initiate your gathering. That means deciding on a date, time, and location for the event.

You can host a summer BBQ in your backyard, at a local swim center, park, or down at the beach. Whatever location you pick, make sure to get any required permits ahead of time and consider how you’ll transport decorations, food, and supplies to and from the location.

Don’t: Hold Off on the Hors D’Oeuvres 

Summer BBQ: family happily eating outside

Nothing’s worse than showing up to a party and waiting hungrily to start eating. Have plenty of yummy appetizers ready from the get-go — bottomless guacamole and chips or crudite with savory dips are sure to please crowds. 

Grilled veggies, juicy coleslaw, and grilled corn on the cob are also excellent starter options. For a tasty Mediterranean salad, you can also mix tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, feta, and balsamic dressing. Set out small side dishes including pasta salad, potato salad, watermelon slices, and jalapeno poppers for guests to snack on.

For the main event, be sure to plan for finger-licking good BBQ favorites. Crispy kebabs are fun and easy — think zucchini, onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers for a vegan-friendly option as well as meat-based selections.

BBQ chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, and turkey burgers are classics for a summer cookout. Just make sure you have gluten-free and/or vegan buns for those with dietary requirements. You can also set out toppings and sides like black beans, chickpeas, cilantro, fresh herbs, and paprika for guests to spice up their dishes. Condiments like olive oil, BBQ sauce, chipotle mustard, pesto, and vinaigrette can add to the flavorings.

Need more ideas? Check out this collection of BBQ recipes. You’ll find everything from classic burgers to fun takes like pistachio corn salad, meat skewers, and marinated noodles

Do: Set the Mood 

Don’t forget to bring wireless speakers and a playlist to suit your party. Maybe you want relaxing, breezy tunes or perhaps you want to pump up the jams with lively hits. Whatever fits your fancy, you can make your own playlist or use an app like Spotify to find pre-made playlists with popular songs based on different genres.

Don’t: Be Afraid to Delegate 

There’s no reason you have to make the entire spread all by yourself, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate. In fact, make your summer BBQ a potluck party! Have your mom bring her famous chocolate chip cookies and your brother make his classic, oversized Caesar salad. Ask your grandma to make Mexican classics like tacos, street corn, and her famous artichoke and bean salad recipe.

Don’t: Slack Off 

Ask for help (well in advance) if needed to keep the day as hassle-free as possible. But don’t let friends and family do all the heavy lifting. Remember, as the host of the party, sometimes it’s necessary to take on tasks like picking out a venue, setting up decor, and making arrangements with caterers. Do your homework, figure out what you need help with and what you can tackle on your own.

Do: Count the Kids 

No, the little ones aren’t going to like the clam paella, so make sure you have at least one dish that even the pickiest of eaters will like. You can never go wrong with hot dogs or fruit. Pick up lemonade and a badminton net and you’re good to go.

Don’t: Make It Inconvenient

Make sure you take into account the location, cost, and timing of your event so guests don’t have to go too far out of their way. Beach BBQs or Friday nights are fun, but can be difficult for busy guests. Summer weeknights may be a better choice for busy families that have camp and other activities planned on the weekends. But again, it really depends on your guests and your own availability.

Do: Make It Your Own 

Tablecloths, plates, napkins, candles, trays, string lights, and party favors are all great ways to add your own personal flair to the event. Create a signature cocktail or pick a festive color scheme and add more of your own personal touches. Check out these eco-friendly party decorations for ideas on how to deck out your space.

Don’t: Overdo It 

Keep it casual and laid back. You don’t have to hire a moving crew to set up furniture in the park or make super elaborate summer recipes. Do as much as you want, and remember that good company (and good food) is all you really need.

Do: Go Green 

Along with using eco-friendly party supplies, consider reusing what you already have for servingware. Also, you can skip the paper invitations and send out digital invitations from Greenvelope. Each design is customizable so you can use the curated designs crafted by artists or make them your own by changing up the color scheme, typography, and adding decorative elements. 

Don’t: Worry, Be Happy

Sure, you want everything to work out perfectly, but enjoy the process and accept that not every element will go exactly according to plan. That’s life, so consider it part of the fun! Ultimately, your goal is to enjoy time with loved ones, so even if the ribs turn out a little burnt, let it be and enjoy yourself.

Summer BBQ Party Invitation Inspiration

Summer BBQ: friends happily grilling outside

Now that you know what to do — and what not to do! — when planning a summer BBQ party, it’s time to invite guests to the main event. Here are some of our favorite BBQ party invitations from understated and simple to vibrant and festive.

1. Bold BBQ Flame Invitation

Bold BBQ Flame Invitation

Design: Keen Peachy

This hot invite is perfect for summer grilling parties. Featuring a large orange flame, it’s sure to catch the attention of your guests and get them ready for a fun summer event.

2. Americana BBQ Invitation

Americana BBQ Invitation

Design: Jessica Williams

Let freedom ring and celebrate America’s birthday with this summer BBQ invitation. It features a rustic wood background that resembles a picnic table along with red, white, and blue accents for a patriotic look.

3. Classic BBQ Invitation

Classic BBQ Invitation

Design: frau brandt

Host a sophisticated summer barbecue and invite guests to the soiree with this vibrant invite. Featuring ingredients from your popular grilling recipes, it’s sure to have guests signing up for their favorite potluck menu item.

4. Beach Babe Invitation

Beach Babe Invitation

Design: Patrice Horvath Design

Invite guests to join you for a cookout with ice cream, margaritas, and sun by the pool with this festive invitation. It’s ideal for a beach-inspired bridal shower, bachelorette party, or girl’s getaway.

Get Ready for a Summer of Fun

Nothing says summer quite like a barbecue. Pull off a picture-perfect summer BBQ with these do’s and don’ts. From choosing a menu to preparing a playlist and planning for all ages, these tips will help make planning your BBQ a breeze.

Want more inspiration for your BBQ party? Continue browsing our Stationers blog where you’ll find party planning tips as well as summer party ideas including themes, decor, and more.