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Backyard Barbeque

When it comes to summer, nothing captures the spirit of the season quite like a grill-and-chill cookout.

Whether you plan to throw your barbeque in the backyard, on your rooftop or at the beach, there’s no better way to entertain than a casual get-together with food, fun and most importantly, friends and family. Follow these tips for an easy and effortless get-together that everyone will be talking about until well after Labor Day!

Think Inside the Bun. Go beyond ground beef and experiment with all types of burgers, such as shrimp, lamb or Portobello mushroom. The grilling experts at BonAppetit.com created some amazing beef-burger alternatives. Just make sure to have one vegan or vegetarian option for your meat-free mates.

A Bevy of Beverages. No need to overthink drinks: Serve a white and red wine, and a non-alcoholic option such as Izze sparkling juice. Place the bottles in a metal bucket full of ice on your table, and guests can serve themselves from the stylish centerpiece. If you're feeling more ambitious, make a pitcher of margaritas (use margarita mix & tequila) or sangria (fruit, wine and sangria mix). Either way, plan for each guest to have at least 3 drinks, whether it's soda, water, beer or wine.

Contemplate Condiments. A burger without ketchup is like a grill without fire! The more toppings at your soiree, the better. Up the ante on your serving game and fill a small table with a tasty variety of relishes, cheeses, bacon bits, pickles, salsa, and let your guests customize their meal. If you want to really keep everything organized and neat, serve sauces in a muffin tin.

Fun & Games. Sure, your friends are great, but don’t expect them to entertain themselves while the food is cooking on the grill. Set up some classic party games, like horseshoes or bag toss so they’re not forced to sit around listening to crazy Aunt Patty tell her stories. Also make sure you set up speakers beforehand, and put a playlist of can’t-miss classic American tunes together, like The Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson.

Weather or Not. You've been planning your cookout for weeks now, only to see that rain is in the forecast. Instead of canceling, make the most of it… a little rain doesn't have to ruin the entire day!

There's nothing wrong with cooking burgers on the stove or moving the grill into the garage. If you happen to know it's going to rain in advance, you could pick up an indoor grill, too.

Since outdoor games might be off-limits, have a few games prepared that you can play inside. At the end of the day, it's all about keeping a positive attitude and enjoying the company of friends and family!