With the Fourth of July around the corner and cookout season beckoning, you could be planning the all-American backyard grilling event this year. Whether you are an amateur or a seasoned pro at the cookout, here are some handy Dos and Don’ts to help make your Fourth of July celebration a success!
DO plan your event beforehand. Make a guest list, send out invites, plan the menu, shop for supplies, and prepare the activities for the event.
DO get into the patriotic mood and set up red, blue, and white decorations. They could be simple – just some lights, or red, blue, and white napkins and other table decorations. If you enjoy craft, you could make an entire range of Fourth of July decorations ahead of time.
DO put up the flag.
DO have plenty of things for your guests to do. Have a game set up: badminton, volleyball, or baseball. Not enough space? A deck of cards or a Frisbee to toss around works just as well.
DO play music in keeping with the theme. Make a CD with a mix of country and rock versions of patriotic songs.
DO make it a potluck if pressured for time. Remember, guests love to bring food to a celebration.
DO make the hot dog if you are planning the typical Fourth of July cookout. Homemade works just as well as store-brought.
DO have plenty of other food to grill, such as fresh vegetables (it’s summer, after all), corn on the cob, chicken, steaks, or bratwursts.
DO have at least a couple of beverages, one alcoholic and another non-alcoholic for your guests. Have plenty of water.
DO provide choices for your vegetarian guests. You can get veggie burgers or soy dogs at your grocery store.
DO keep perishables cold. Keep the cold salads in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It also helps to keep cold food on smaller containers on ice to maintain temperatures and keep bacteria out.
DO serve watermelon – it’s red!
Do have plenty of sunscreen and a first-aid kit handy.
DON’T keep raw and cooked food on the same plates or utensils. Avoid cross-contamination at all costs.
DON’T run out of grilling fuel or ice.
DON’T leave kids unsupervised around the pool or around fireworks.
DON’T drink too much alcohol. You need to be in control till the very end.
When transporting meats and poultry to the cookout site, make sure they are cooked completely. It is never advisable to carry partially cooked meats and poultry in coolers. Partially cooked meat does not reach temperatures necessary to kill bacteria, and these bacteria will only grow and spread to other food in the cooler. Either cook the meat completely and chill it before putting it in the cooler, or carry uncooked meat that can be grilled right away.
DO charge your cameras ahead of time.
DO put a trash can or a recycle bin on the patio, Clean up the fireworks debris too.
Above all, DO have a wonderful Fourth of July!