10 Tips for Hosting a Cookout

By Kelley Boymer
24 May 2022

Long, warm summer days call for gatherings and now that we can be outdoors again, what better time to host a cookout? Cookouts are a fun way to get family and friends together in a casual, easy-going and laid back atmosphere. Sometimes the thought of hosting a party alone can feel overwhelming or costly, but there are many ways to host a low-maintenance party that is fun for everyone. 

My husband and I love hosting parties. We enjoy being able to hold a space for everyone to come together and enjoy each other. Now that we have hosted several events, we have the prep and setup down to a science. Ahead of the holiday weekend I thought I’d share some tips for hosting a fun, stress-free cookout that all your friends and family will enjoy.

10 Tips for Hosting a Cookout

send Invitations

You don’t need to send fancy invitations for a cookout. Keep it simple with a group text, email or evite. I like evite because it saves emails and contacts so when I create a new event it is easy to click all of my friends and family and send out promptly. They also have free templates and make it a little more formal and fun. If you want to make it BYOB or have guests bring a dish you can mention in here too. It’s helpful to get RSVPs and a total number of guests so you can plan accordingly.

Make a list

Make a list of all the things you need to accomplish in order to successfully throw a party! It never feels good to miss something, so make sure to have your list and check things off as you go. Here’s a few helpful checklists for parties and cookouts to get you started (1, 2, 3). You may not need to do as much if you are having a smaller gathering but it helps to get organized.

Prep Early and do a big grocery shop ahead of time

Start prepping early in the week and do what you can a few days or week in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed the day of the event. Do a big grocery shop in advance of the party. BJ’s or Costco are great to buy in bulk and save on supplies. Don’t forget tableware-plates, napkins, utensils and cups. You can get affordable recyclable/reusable tableware that doesn’t require a ton of clean up after!

don’t be afraid to Delegate

My mom has always been a great delegator when it comes to party prep and I have learned to embrace it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask friends to BYOB or an appetizer to share. Guests are always thankful not to be the one hosting and are usually eager to help out.

Cookout Essentials


put out plenty of tables and chairs

You can get creative with seating if you don’t have enough tables and chairs for everyone. Set out some blankets and pillows, grab your camping or foldout chairs and find any extra side tables or small tables you have laying around where people can sit and enjoy.

use lights and fresh flowers for simple Decor

Just a few simple details can quickly brighten up your party. Outdoor string lights give such beautiful ambience. We also have automatic solar lights along our garden walkway that are really pretty once it gets dark out. Use tablecloths to add to your table (this is a great thing to find secondhand!). Flowers cut from your garden or a nearby shop add a nice touch.

provide sunscreen and bug spray

There’s nothing worse than being at a cookout and getting eaten alive by bugs or fried by the sun. Keep it easy for your guests and put out a few baskets of bug spray and sunscreen, and if the party is happening at night include a few blankets nearby too.

set up Games

Everyone loves lawn games and they provide a fun activity for people to enjoy while waiting for food or after their meal. We have cornhole, which my dad made for our wedding. Every time we pull it out it brings back wonderful memories from our special day. My husband loves horseshoes and made pits beside our house with his dad. Other fun games include bocce, giant jenga, ladder ball, Kan-Jam, and Spikeball.

keep it simple with easy food to grill and prep ahead

Cookouts provide a great opportunity to keep things simple. Burgers, hot dogs, BBQ Chicken, veggie kabobs, and ribs are all easy to prep and have ready to throw on the grill once your guests arrive. Pasta salad, fruit salad and/or potato salad are all easy to make ahead of time and put on large platters for self serve. Sliced up watermelon, chips and dip, and veggie platters are all easy to prep and great for a summer cookout.

use a cooler or kiddie pool for easy access to Beverages

Depending on your guest total fill a big cooler or kiddie pool with lots of ice to keep your water, seltzers, beer and other beverages cold. You can also ask guests to BYOB in the invite which is an easy way to make sure everyone has something they like at the party. An easy way to save on waste and make sure everyone has enough water is to fill a big water dispenser and leave cups out. This is a great way to make a big cocktail or mocktail too so you’re not having to mix drinks when guests arrive.

Summer cookouts are my favorite! There is nothing better than enjoying grilled food and time outdoors with family and friends. Don’t stress too much, prep in advance and keep things simple so you can enjoy your time with friends and family. Most importantly, have fun. Everyone will be appreciative that you hosted a fun event and next time you will get to be a guest and enjoy laying back and relaxing!

Are you hosting a cookout soon or for the holiday weekend? Let us know any tips you have for throwing a great party!

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