Plan a Fun Barbecue for Guests and Hosts to Enjoy

A barbecue should be more than just about the food. It’s a daylong event meant to include time for fun with friends and family. Planning ahead is key to hosting and enjoying a wonderful barbeque.

Make a list of all necessary items and the setup required. Buy non-perishable foods early and store them out of the way. To ensure ample space, prepare and set tables for food display and guest seating the night before, noting where hot and cold dishes will be placed, including grilled items. This cuts down on the stress of doing everything the day of the event, which should be reserved for food preparation only.

Serving healthier food options at a backyard barbecue doesn’t have to be a challenge. Provide alternatives to the everyday burgers and hot dogs such as turkey feta burgers that offer amazing flavor while adding nutritional value and dramatically cutting calories. For delicious side dishes, grill corn on the cob and other in-season vegetables. Include a garden salad and fruit salad on the menu instead of a typical potato salad. Use local community supported agriculture (CSA) shares as a resource. CSAs often provide salad recipes featuring local seasonal vegetables. Challenge guests to also bring a dish that supports their local community. Shop at a local farmers’ market, choose in-season, locally grown fruits and vegetables and be amazed at the difference in flavor.

Lastly, plan an activity to keep guests active and entertained or provide a fun competition among family and friends. Ask someone to be the “organizer” to keep everyone on track and offer a thoughtful prize to keep guests engaged.

Summer barbecues are supposed to be fun, not stressful. With a little planning and preparation, the host can enjoy the party, too.

Michele Reber is the owner of Healthy You Cafè, provider of private venue catering and on-site dining, located inside the Capital Blue store, at 4500 Marketplace Way, in Enola, and inside SPAtacular Escapes, at 200 Technology Dr., in Mechanicsburg. For more information, call 717-790-9657 or visit

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