In the hot summer months, there’s nothing better than relaxing in your yard with an ice-cold drink in hand and some tasty cuts of meat on the grill. In my home, the barbecue assumes a very important role during this time of year, and we love having people over to enjoy the long evenings and eat with us. I’ve thrown more than my fair share of barbecue parties in my time — some in spacious outdoor areas and others on apartment balconies. While smaller cookouts can seem a littler harder to pull off, they’re always worth the extra effort. This year, don’t let a limited amount of space stop you from having a good time. Here are a few tips to help you plan and host your very own summer barbecue.
For renters, the party planning process is always accompanied by the fear of potential complaints. To make your barbecue as easy on your neighbors as possible, try finding a nearby area for your guests to park in ahead of time. Additionally, you’ll want to consider how much noise you’re going to be making. Even if you’re not anticipating any loud or unruly behavior, it’s always nice to give the tenants around you a heads up. Of course, there’s always a chance that your quiet gathering will unexpectedly turn into a late-night hurrah. In that case, you should take the time to personally apologize to your neighbors afterward. Bring them a little gift like homemade cookies or beer to make up for the disturbance you caused. If they’re particularly nice people, you might be able to avoid conflict by just inviting them to your barbecue in the first place!
Not Enough Stuff
Sure, you’ve been to parties where you’re expected to “BYOB,” but have you ever had to “BYOC” (chair)? You may find that your apartment is filled with just enough furniture, dishes, and utensils to fulfill your day-to-day needs. If you’re running low on chairs, plates, wine glasses, or anything else you might want for your barbecue, consider asking your guests to bring some of their own. We don’t recommend requiring each person to bring a suitcase full of stuff with them, but we don’t see any harm in asking them for one slightly uncommon item! Otherwise, you might be forced to buy the things you’re short on and end up filling your space with unnecessary clutter in the long run.
Small Space Shimmy
Summer parties are all about mingling, meaning you’ll have to give your guests enough room to move around between the food, games, drinks, and various social groups. Consider the overall flow of your apartment, and ask yourself where the best place for the cooking area would be. Where will food and drinks be laid out? Remember that everyone always clusters around the snacks! Does your unit have a nook or cranny that can hold a small group of people? Consider putting folding chairs, blankets, or cushions in this area to create a space for conversation! If your rental is especially small, you might want to do the cooking in advance. Finish your grilling up just before the party starts, or get creative by serving foods that are fine to eat at room temperature. Either way, you’ll gain some standing room that would’ve otherwise been dedicated to food prep.
Hosting Away from Home
If you really don’t feel comfortable throwing a summer barbecue in your apartment, don’t despair. There are plenty of other ways to host a get-together. Contact a friend with a bigger place and see if they’d be willing to let you use it for your party. Offer to do everything you’d do if you were throwing it at your own place: this includes cleaning up before and after, moving furniture around, and serving as the event’s main greeter and coordinator. That way, your friend gets a good time delivered right to their door and a free house cleaning out of the deal. Just be prepared to fix or replace anything that your guests accidentally break during the party. If that still seems like too much of a hassle, try putting on a cookout at your local park!
General Party-Planning Tips
No matter what size your apartment is, it’s always going to be more inviting when it’s clean and tidy. On the day of your barbecue, put away your unnecessary decor and small pieces of furniture to give your guests more room for walking and chatting. Think about everyone that’s coming and prepare your place accordingly. If you know some of your older friends are coming, you’ll want to be sure to provide them all with chairs. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure your breakables are all out of children’s reach. For additional comfort, set up a few fans or a portable air conditioning unit in your living room. Remember that everyone emits heat and that small spaces filled with people tend to warm up pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you’re throwing an outdoor party and there’s rain in the forecast, why not rent out a couple of “E-Z Up” canopies? Finally, put on a nice upbeat playlist in the background, and, most importantly, enjoy yourself!