Here’s how to pull off a last-minute cookout, complete with crowd-pleasing recipes and easy party tips.
With a house to clean and shopping to do, you’ll want simple but wow-worthy dishes.
8 hours before the party:
- Invite guests to the ‘cue and ask them to bring a beverage or favorite side.
- Make a shopping list. Your menu needs just 12 ingredients: Flank steak (estimate 4 to 6 ounces per person), unshucked fresh corn, cornflakes, corn syrup, chocolate syrup, roasted peanuts, peanut butter, frozen lemonade, frozen sweetened strawberries, vanilla ice cream, vodka, and crushed ice.
- Check pantry for steak marinade ingredients and go shopping.
- Pick up bright colored bandanas, bubble wands, colored chalk, and balloons at a party store.
- Give the house a quick clean-up.
- Assemble Tin Roof Sundae ice cream pie. Cover and freeze.
4 hours before the party:
- Make marinade. Add steak and place in refrigerator.
- Wipe down the patio furniture. Clean the grill.
- Gather plates and cups. Wrap flatware in bandanas; bandanas can double as napkins and be used in relay races for kids.
- Put the 2 ingredients for Easy Strawberry Lemonade–frozen lemonade and frozen sweetened strawberries–in the refrigerator to thaw. Chill vodka.
- Set up a crafts table for kids with crayons, watercolor paints, paper, scissors, magazines, and labels for name tags.
As guests arrive:
- Greet guests with homemade Strawberry Lemonade. Let adults spike lemonade with vodka. Offer crushed ice to kids for a slushier drink.
- Bring kids to the craft table and let them decorate nametags for themselves. Offer each child a bubble wand, large or small, to keep them busy.
- Ask older kids to organize games of hopscotch, a balloon toss, or relay races. Let younger kids draw, paint, or make collages using pictures cut out from magazines.
- Put corn on the grill to cook; it will take 30 minutes.
- When corn is done, keep it on indirect heat on the grill and cook steak.
- Slice steak and place on serving platter. Let guests help themselves to steak, corn, and sides.
- Pull ice cream pie out of the freezer 30 minutes before serving. Pass extra chocolate syrup and roasted peanuts for garnishing.
Ready to plan a barbeque?
Three Cool Sides
Let guests who can’t decide what to bring make one of these tasty salads:
1. Pairing watermelon, feta, black olives, and mint sounds crazy, but it tastes great.
2. Lemon juice gives traditional potato salad a refreshing kick in the pants.
3. For the friend who hates to cook, this one is super easy.