So you’re having family and friends over for a barbecue? Creating a fun and safe barbecue space is essential when kids are running around. And so is having kid-friendly dishes that their parents will also enjoy. Tammi from Momma’s Meals shares her tips on putting together the best family friendly barbecues.
I know everyone is already talking about going back to school but there is still plenty of time to enjoy a good BBQ in the upcoming weeks. Whether you’re having family over for a special occasion or you just invite a few friends over to enjoy some good food and fun, we all have to admit that a barbecue just isn’t a barbecue without certain things. Today I’m going to share all of those classic things along with a few ideas for keeping kids busy and some great must-have recipes.
Each summer, for the past four years we’ve thrown a birthday party for my son’s June birthday. Then, of course, there is Memorial Day, The Fourth of July and Labor Day, three perfect holidays to celebrate with a great barbecue. Over the years I’m pretty sure I mastered just how to throw the perfect BBQ, feed everyone well and still be able to enjoy the company of our guests. My secret is simple: Kid-friendly food and games!
1. Kid-friendly Food
Hot Dog and Hamburgers
The first thing that comes to mind has to be hot dogs and hamburgers! And before you say that those are boring, check this fabulous list of more than 35 creative Hamburger and Hot Dog recipes from the Sunday Supper tastemakers. You are sure to find a few recipes on this list that everyone at your BBQ will love.
Hot dogs and hamburgers are an easy, inexpensive and a great way to feed a large crowd. Last weekend I went to a family reunion on my husband’s side in Canada and I was blown away at the amount of hot dogs his uncle made. He even used an actual fireplace to toast the buns and the upper grill rack to keep them warm. Something about a good old fashion hot dog or hamburger completes a BBQ. Wanna get the kids in on the action, buy a set or two of the telescoping forks* and let them roast their own wienies – amply supervised, of course.
Corn on the Cob
Oh, yes! Who doesn’t love fresh corn dripping with butter seasoned to perfection? This summer was the first time I cooked my ears of corn on the actual grill. Usually I boil them on the grill side burner, but I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Now I hardly want corn on the cob any other way. Add a tablespoon of basil or rosemary butter and wrap them up in tinfoil. Put them on the upper rack of the grill and just turn them over a few times. They cook in about 15-20 minutes. And they are amazing! Your guests will be licking their fingers, guaranteed.
Classic Potato Salad
Does your family have a potato salad that someone always just has to bring? We do. My aunt makes it the best but I finally got the history behind that recipe recently. My grandfather used to make it and the secret ingredient he used to add was beets! I never even knew that because I guess every time we had a BBQ there were two versions made. One with beets and one without beets. My mom recently made the one with beets for me to try and I have to say it was pretty awesome! Here are 18 other genius variations of the classic potato salad if you’re interested in changing it up a bit. There’s sure to be one the adults AND kids will enjoy.
Family Favorite Pasta Salad
I confess. I usually volunteer to make a pasta salad when attending a BBQ because it’s easy to make kid-friendly. Just choose a fun pasta shape and veggies your kids like. Seriously, cook some pasta, throw in vegetables and toss in their favorite dressing! So what if the neighbor kids picks out the carrots? At least you know they’ll all eat the pasta. And a cold salad is a great way to feed a large crowd. Check out this Spinach Chicken Pasta Salad from Isabel over at Family Foodie.
Homemade Fruit Popsicles and Ice Cream
You can’t have family friendly barbecues without some fun games! I have to admit I’d heard of cornhole before but never actually played it until a few weeks ago. My best friend and her husband gave us a set for Christmas last year and we finally broke it out. I also played in a huge tournament last weekend. It was so much fun and I almost beat my husband! He took home the Cornhole Championship that day. Set it up and let the kids have at it. It keeps my kids busy for at least an hour!
How about a friendly game of horseshoes?! This was the game my family played all summer long when I was growing up. I remember watching the adults really get into this game but as I look back on the memories the friendly tournaments probably weren’t so friendly because most males in my family are pretty competitive!
Water guns and water balloons
I’m assuming here that since your guests have come with children and we are eating outdoors no one’s in super fancy clothes! Fill a couple of buckets with water and let kids fill small water guns from them. (No running faucets and wasting water that way!) You can buy them pretty cheaply at a dollar store. Ready some of those quick-fill water balloons* and put them in two plastic basins before the guests arrive. Get out on the lawn for an old-fashioned water balloon fight after-dinner to cool off! Your guests will go home wet, but happy.
3. Stay Safe
Safety Around the Grill.
Here are a few tips from the United States Fire Administration (and me.)
- Only use your grill outdoors and place it well away from overhanging trees, eaves, balconies, siding or deck rails.
- Keep a constant eye on your grill, fire pit or patio torches. Never leave them unattended.
- Make sure that the barbecue pit and any hot/sharp implements, including lighters or matches, are kept well out of the way of children. Declare a three-foot kid-free zone around the pit. (Here’s where those 32″ telescoping wienie forks come in handy!) If you have some sidewalk chalk handy, let them draw and decorate the kid-free circle before you light the fire.
- Clean the grill well after each use to prevent grease build up that could cause a flare up.
Visit our BBQ Pinterest Page for some more ideas. What are your favorite must-haves when you throw or attend a family friendly barbecue? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks.
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