The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, and a barbecue is calling your name. Nothing screams summer quite like that Saturday afternoon barbecue party or picnic. Easy Event Planning has put together some summer backyard BBQ ideas that are sure to provide your guests with a festive, summer setting!
Backyard BBQ Ideas: Decorations
1. Summertime tablecloths
Outdoor tables might not be the cleanest surfaces, so make your guests comfortable by decorating them with tablecloths. You can use a traditional checkered tablecloth in red and white or go for bright colored tablecloths such as yellow, orange or green. Use picnic craft ribbon or picnic streamers of the same color to decorate the chairs.
2. Decorative twinkle lights
A valuable addition to your summer BBQ picnic decorations is inexpensive twinkle lights. Hang these in trees or on the deck railings. You could also line your walkway with outdoor lanterns or paper lantern luminary bags to light the path on the way to the house. These ideas create a beautiful atmosphere for a BBQ picnic that will last into the evening.
3. Tiki torches
For a creative twist to decorating your space with lights, purchase some tiki torches. You can find tall tiki lights or small tiki torches for the tabletop. This is great for a party that will last late into the night.
Purchase some helium-filled balloons from your local party store that match your picnic color scheme. Tie some together, such as in groups of five. You can make the string lengths different for an artistic look. Anchor the balloons down with balloon weights. If you’re looking to keep the cost down, you can use uninflated latex balloons and fill them with cheap desert sand. Tie the balloon and tie the picnic ribbon right to it as well. You can dress these up even more by wrapping some tissue paper around the balloon weight.
5. Flower centerpieces
Purchase some flowers from a local florist and decorative table-top flowerpots. Use these as table centerpieces at your BBQ picnic. For a more creative flower centerpiece, take mason jars and fill them with summer season flowers such as lavender, marigolds, and sunflowers. If you do not want to use real flowers, you can get assorted-color tissue paper and some green pipe cleaners. Create flowers by layering a few pieces of paper and inserting the pipe cleaner through the middle. Twirl the paper around the pipe cleaner and fasten with tape. For help with this, search the web for tissue paper pipe cleaner flowers. There are a variety of methods that will produce colorful results. Place these flowers in vases to make for a playful centerpiece.
6. BBQ picnic banners
String clotheslines around the event space. You can use these to hang various BBQ/summer-themed items, such as picnic streamers, balloons, or cowboy bandannas.
7. Case for condiments
BBQ and beer go together like a movie and popcorn. After serving beer, use the leftover six-pack holders to put condiments in that you’ll need for the feast. Guests will enjoy this creative artistic recycling.
Unfold bandanas and use them as centerpieces for the barbeque. Top with flowers to add some color or with citronella candles to keep the bugs away!
9. Hay bale seats
If your cookout has a traditional Western theme, consider visiting your local farmers’ market to pick up some hay bales to use as seats instead of those traditional folding chairs. You can also order these online. Put a blanket on the top surface to ensure your guests’ comfort.
10. Your own herb garden
For the unique and fresh table centerpiece decorations, consider setting up a miniature herb garden. Include herbs such as basil or thyme. Tell guests that they can feel free to pinch the herbs to release their unique scents into the air or even take some basil to add to their salads.
11. Cool Coolers
Instead of just getting a normal cooler to store your beverages, opt for something that is more creative. Metal troughs make for a unique way to store your drinks and keep them cool. Put them in the view of everyone by placing it in its own area, such as on its own table. Metal buckets also serve this purpose well and with multiple buckets, you could separate each drink you serve. Fill both of these with bags of ice and place your beverages in there. Nothing beats cool drinks in cool coolers!
12. Canopies or Umbrellas
With summer picnics and BBQs comes extreme heat. Luckily, canopies and outdoor umbrellas will allow your guests to stay cool and is a nice addition to your summer BBQ picnic decorations arsenal. Outdoor umbrellas work great for providing shade for guests sitting at patio tables and for keeping food and drinks out of the sun. Canopies are also another great solution for beating the heat. Large canopies let everyone mingle together while staying cool.
13. Menu for All
Use a chalkboard sign or a large whiteboard to create a menu by writing out what you intend to serve. Put this in front of a wood woven basket with chalk or dry erase markers so guests can also write their favorite things about the experience so you can replicate those things again.
Backyard BBQ Ideas: Activities
14. Summer piñata
Piñatas are fun for guests of all ages. A sun piñata, a palm tree piñata, or any other summer piñatas are great for BBQ picnics. Fill the piñata with wrapped candy of your choice. Don’t forget to also get a piñata bat or a plastic bat for your guests to hit the piñata with.
15. Balloon slip and slide
Purchase a slip and slide for kids and adults, a plastic tarp, or garbage bags. Cover the slippery runway with water and latex water balloons from start to finish. The water balloons will pop as you slide down, making the ride more slippery as you get refreshing bursts of water splashing at your face.
You can also add dish soap to make it easier to slide across the balloons and the runway. If some water balloons were not popped after guests took their turns, save the extra water balloons that haven’t popped yet for a spontaneous water balloon fight. Make sure you include on the invitations for guests to bring their swimsuits or an extra pair of clothes for this water activity.
16. Balloon dart board
One fun activity to have at a birthday party is a traditional carnival style balloon dart board. To make this game a little more competitive, add a colored jelly bean into a few latex balloons. Each jelly bean correlates to a prize that you can lay out near the dartboard. For example, popping a balloon and seeing a green jelly bean fall out could correlate to your guests winning a gift card or that they get the leftover desserts.
The prizes you could implement are endless. Make sure that only a few balloons have jelly beans, so guests are eager to and willing to give this their best efforts. Your guests will smile when they see their little surprise fall out after a round of carnival darts!
17. Classic outdoor games
Outdoor games, such as bean bags and horseshoes, give all age groups a chance to cherish their time together even more. Order bean bag boards/cornhole boards (these usually come with bags) and a horseshoe set. Break up your guests into pairs and make tournaments for both of these BBQ picnic party activities. These classic outdoor games will serve lots of fun for all guests.
One of the biggest things you can control, which will elevate your barbeque picnic parties, is music. To add some fun, get a karaoke machine for any of your guests to get up there and sing a song during the party. This is always a fun time and will definitely generate some laughs.
A newer game, spikeball has grown into a popular outdoor activity and actual sport. You can order the net and balls online. The game is 2 vs. 2, so it is another great game for splitting up your guests and creating a tournament. For instructions and official rules for the game, check out this link from the Spikeball Roundnet Association.
20. Sack racing
Sometimes you just need to keep falling to learn to stand (or to keep hopping). That’s the name of the game when it comes to sack races. Purchase sack race bags for adults and kids. Split guests up into even teams and create a start and finish line with tape or sticks. Once one team member crosses the finish line, he or she hops out of the sack and the next team member hops in. This happens each time. The first team to have their last team members cross the finish line wins!
Backyard BBQ Ideas: Favors
21. Fun Bubble Gum Buckets
Purchase some small pails and a bunch of colorful gumballs. Decorate the pails with one colorful ribbon tied around the rim, and then fill each pail with the gumballs. Both kids and adults will love this fun do it yourself barbeque favors.
22. Homemade BBQ Rub
You can find many BBQ rub recipes online. Make several recipes that you love and put them into small jars or gift bags. Guests will love being able to use this BBQ party giveaway for their own summer cookouts!
23. Mini-Pie Picnic Favors
Use miniature pie tins to make a mini pie crust with a fruity filling. Make an assortment mini of cherry, apple, or blueberry pies for your guests to bring home. You can wrap the pies in a patterned handkerchief or other fabric for a unique and festive touch.
24. Homemade BBQ Sauce
Share your special DIY BBQ sauce recipe with your guests by sending them home with small jars of your homemade barbeque sauce. This will be a memorable treat all summer as guests use your BBQ sauce for their own cookouts and summer barbecues. You can even include a do it yourself recipe on an index card attached with a ribbon to the jar.
25. Summertime Fun Pack
Purchase the necessities for a picnic, such as sunscreen, sunglasses, flip-flops, battery-powered or handheld fans, a water bottle, or a visor. Put them in baskets, or drawstring backpacks for your guests to bring home as giveaways. You can decorate the backpacks with the guests’ names or with summer-themed images. Guests can use these fantastic favors all summer long!
26. Homemade Lemonade or Sweet Tea
Before the party, prepare some lemonade or sweet tea. Pour these delicious drinks into mason jars or decorative cups, and make sure to have enough for each guest. Put a lemon slice in each jar for an extra decorative touch.
27. Scrumptious Caramel Apples
Caramel apples are a fun, edible, delicious treat idea that almost everyone enjoys. Prepare some caramel apples and wrap them in plastic. You can wrap the stick with a decorative ribbon for an extra-special touch that guests will love!
28. BBQ-Themed Cookies
Before the picnic, spend some time in the kitchen making sugar cookies using summer cookie cutter shapes as various BBQ themed items, like cowboy hats, cowboy boots, or if it is a luau theme, in the shape of palm trees or pineapples. Put them on small plates for guests to take home.
29. Summertime Trail Mix
Make your own trail mix for your barbecues and put it in decorative bags for each guest. This will be a fun treat to have for all of the summertime activities that your guests will be participating in.
30. Watermelon Candy Baskets
Paint wood baskets to look like watermelons and then line them with red tissue paper. Fill each basket with watermelon candies. This is a yummy treat for your guests to eat after the party and they can even reuse the decorated baskets.
31. Delicious Honey Jars
Purchase some honey from your local farmers’ market and fill small mason jars with this delicious treat. Guests can use this for extra flavor during the summertime meal.
32. Homemade Jam and Jelly
Make your own flavored jam and jelly. Fill mason jars with these delicious favors for your guests to bring home and use long after the party.
33. Watermelon Cupcakes
Use a biscuit cutter to cut a chunk out of a watermelon. Put each watermelon piece into a small cup, and then put green frosting on top. You can use chocolate sprinkles on top to make them look like watermelon seeds. These party favors are sure to excite and astound your guests.
34. Cowboy Hats
Everyone will enjoy wearing a cowboy hat at your cookout party. Purchase an assortment of colors, styles, and sizes and let guests choose their favorite to take home.
35. Personalized Moist Towelettes
BBQ can get really messy, so make sure your guests can keep their hands clean by purchasing some personalized moist towelettes. Purchase enough to use at the party and for guests to bring home and use at other cookout picnics during the summer season.
36. Personalized Drink Labels
What is a better way than for strangers to get to know each other’s names then providing a personalized drink label with their names on it. To keep everyone’s beverage in the right hands, set out gift tags that have your guests’ names on them so they can attach them to their cup.
37. Woven Picnic Baskets
Purchase a picnic basket for each of your guests. Fill each one with essentials, such as a red and white-checkered tablecloth or some homemade snacks. Guests will love this idea for summer picnics.
38. Beer Shaped Candles
Beer mug candles will be a crowd-pleaser with the foamy beer top. This is a fun party favor for adults, who can use it during other barbecues or during summer tailgating.
39. BBQ Essentials Favor
Give your guests BBQ mitts and BBQ utensils, such as tongs, a spatula, etc. Fill the mitt with the utensils so your guests can use this fantastic favor for all of their grilling and summer cookout needs!
40. Personalized Drink Koozies
For adult barbeque giveaways, order beer can coolers for each guest. They can use these insulating drink sleeves for their drinks during the party and for the rest of the summer.
Backyard BBQ Ideas: Children’s Favors
41. Sheriff’s Star Favor
Purchase some plastic sheriff’s stars for the kids to wear. Kids will love playing make-believe with these cute party favors.
If the event space has a large field or a lot of room for the kids to run around and play, consider giving all of the kids Frisbees as a party favor. Some of them may have never seen one before and they may love it enough to stay off their devices this summer.
43. Summer Toys
There is an assortment of age-appropriate summer toys, such as bubbles, jump ropes, kites, sidewalk chalk, or water toys. These party favors will keep the kids entertained during the party and are perfect keepsakes that kids can use during their entire summer break.
44. Colorful Flower Leis
For a luau-themed BBQ, give away colorful leis to give the guests the feeling of being on a tropical Hawaiian island. Kids will enjoy wearing these during the festivities. Adults may also enjoy wearing the leis so purchase enough for every guest who will be attending your picnic.
Upgrade your ordinary summer barbecue with these fun and festive backyard BBQ ideas! If you’re looking for a professional decorator for your event, Easy Event Planning has you covered! Use our free multi-vendor quote to find the perfect vendors in your area!
Contributors: Rebecca Smith, Rachel Word, Isary Fernandez and Bryk Li