Prep for the most patriotic 4th of July celebration.
Summer is almost here, and it's no surprise if your mind is full of anticipation and ideas for a truly awesome summer grilling party. You're probably thinking of blue skies, cold drinks, a relaxing breeze, and the mouthwatering aroma of steaks sizzling over the coals. You might find this idea even more irresistible if you live in an area known for lousy weather all the way through spring. In that case, it's definitely time to celebrate summer with an outdoor party and wake the grill from its long, cold-weather hibernation. Here's a guide to make sure you have what you need and don't leave anything out!
Check your grill
First things first, you'll want to make sure your grill is in top shape, especially if it's been sitting unused for months. If the grate is dirty, give it a good cleaning with a grill brush or advanced tool like the Grill Daddy Pro, which uses steam to loosen accumulated crud. You can also try the Grill Master Grill Cleaner Stick. Don't despair if the mess is really caked on and hard to remove. You can loosen it first by putting your grill grate into a garbage bag with one cup of ammonia and sealing it up as airtight as you can. Leave it for 24 hours and the fumes from the ammonia will weaken the crud enough to remove it easily. Just be careful of the ammonia fumes when opening the bag, and be sure to dispose of it properly!
Check your fuel
Whether your grill is gas or charcoal, you'll need to have enough fuel for grilling. For charcoal grills, be sure to remember to stock up on charcoal, a lighter, and lighter fluid, or optionally try this fluidless electric charcoal starter. Gas grills should be checked for leaks before use, and you can accomplish this by covering the connections and line with soapy water, turning on the propane, and watching for bubbles. If you see any, there's a leak and you may need to replace the line or just tighten the connections. You don't want to run out of fuel in the middle of cooking, so confirm that your propane tank is full and ready to go.
Get cooking supplies
Once you're sure your grill and all its associated hardware are clean and in great shape, evaluate your grilling utensils and supplies. You'll at least want tongs and a barbecue fork, and depending on what you want to put on the menu, you may need other supplies like a basting bottle and brush or a meat thermometer. Fully stocked up on seasonings you intend to use, and if you're planning on marinating any steaks before the party, remember to start that up ahead of time.
Set up your outdoor area
Evaluate how many guests you'll have and make sure you have adequate seating and tables. Depending on the layout of your yard and the climate where you live, you may want to add shelter to create some shade for everyone. You can set up umbrellas on each table, or even go all-out with a tent or gazebo. Check out some lawn games for both adults and kids (especially kids that get bored easily). Also, nobody is going to want to call a fun party quits just because it's starting to get dark out, so get some lighting. Tiki torches are a big favorite, plus with citronella torch fuel they can double as a means of keeping bugs away. It's also a good idea to have a trash can and recycling bins ready to go; your guests and yard will both appreciate it!
Prepare for serving
Stock up on plates, cups, and utensils for your guests, keeping in mind that flimsy plates probably won't work out if you're planning on grilling some serious steaks. Ensure the tableware you provide is up to the job. Depending on the weather, you may be dealing with the wind that could blow lightweight plates away. Consider going for plastic if you want to avoid the potential inconveniences of paper. Consider putting your side dishes and condiments in jars ahead of time so as to eliminate having bowls and messy serving spoons everywhere. For chilling beverages, in addition to the usual cooler, you can also add ice buckets depending on whether you want to split up your beverages (keeping beer separate from soda, offering red and white wine, etc.). Having a cooler exclusively for bottles of water is also a good idea if it's going to be hot out. And don't forget cleanup, especially where lots of barbecue sauce is involved! You should probably skip napkins altogether and just go for a good supply of paper towels, with sturdy holders for easy one-handed tearing.
Prepare for emergencies
No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen, especially during an event with as much potential for chaos as a party. Nobody wants to think about getting hurt at an event that's supposed to be fun, but get a first aid kit just in case. You may not need it, but even in the case of a small emergency such as a neighbor's cut finger or a child's skinned knee, everyone will be happy you have it.
Hopefully, these suggestions will be helpful to you while you're planning the ultimate backyard summer grilling party or 4th of July bash. Now that you know where to start, check the calendar, pick a date, and have a great time!