1) Make sure you have enough seating.
If you have a big group, don't be shy about asking your guests to bring a few extra folding chairs or another table. Short on chairs but not on lawn space? Lay down some blankets and call it a picnic!
2) Create shade.
If you don't have a lot of natural shade, add some patio umbrellas or pop-up canopies as needed to keep guests cool.
3) Keep bugs away.
Nothing ruins a cookout like an incessant swarm of mosquitoes. Provide bug repellant, light citronella candles, and tiki torches, and set up a fan or two to blow the bugs away.
4) Add lighting.
If your cookout will last into the evening hours, ensure you have enough outdoor lighting to keep things safe. String lights are fun and festive, and in-ground lights are great for illuminating paths.
5) Set up some backyard games.
There's nothing wrong with just kicking back and talking, but a game or two can really amp up the fun! Giant Jenga and Cornhole are fun for all ages. You can keep kids entertained by providing bubbles, sidewalk chalk, or a splash pad!
6) Don't forget the music!
Spotify has some great ready-made playlists. Backyard BBQ is a mix of classic rock favorites, and Motown Family is an upbeat playlist that all ages will love!
7) Make the cooking part as simple as possible.
Prepare side dishes ahead of time so you're not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else parties outside. Or, to make it even easier, ask your guests to contribute sides and desserts. You can minimize dishwashing by lining your platters with plastic wrap
before loading them up with the raw meat you're going to grill. After the meat goes on the grill, you just toss the plastic wrap and—voila!—a clean platter ready to be a serving dish.