Nova Scotians, and Canadians as a whole, don’t have a very big window when it comes to backyard entertaining. Our summers are short, so you want to make the most of your outdoor gatherings. Here we offer our complete guide to backyard entertaining to help you plan the perfect BBQ party. 

Things You Need for an Outdoor Party 

First, let’s start with a checklist of the things you need for a successful outdoor party: 

  • A big enough grill to accommodate the number of guests attending 
  • Propane, charcoal and/or wood for your barbecue and smoker 
  • Sufficient seating 
  • Patio heaters just to be safe 
  • A fire pit for s’mores 
  • Games and entertainment (not for everyone, but great for gatherings with kids) 
  • Lots of water and non-alcoholic beverages 
  • A well-stocked bar 
  • A well-planned menu 
  • A designated outdoor entertainment area 

These items will help ensure you’re all set to cook up a storm while your guests enjoy drinks and conversation waiting for the feast. 

How Can I Make My Backyard Fun? 

Make sure your backyard is fun and doesn’t look like you just threw together some fold-up chairs. These ideas can help you create an outdoor entertainment area perfect for your BBQ party: 

  • Set Up Some Games: This is a must if you’re entertaining kids. Water is always the great equalizer for kids so consider buying something you can hook up to your hose like a mini water slide to keep kids safe but occupied. Fun games everyone can enjoy might include croquet, horseshoes, bean bag tosses, lawn bowling, badminton or even a retro game of Twister. 
  • Create an Upbeat Playlist: Keep the tunes upbeat and fun so people feel energized. If you’re a dance kind of crowd, clear a place on the lawn or deck where people can show off their moves. 
  • Serve Customized Cocktails (or Mocktails): Set up a bar with a designated bartender to shake up summer-friendly cocktails. Drinking and socializing go together, just keep things under control! Be sure everyone has a way to get home and include some fun mocktails for designated drivers and kids. 
  • String Up Some Patio Lanterns: Patio lanterns are retro and festive helping to create a more fun vibe. 
  • Have a Decorating Theme: Theme parties are always fun allowing you to go all out to create a specific ambience. From a speakeasy vibe to a luau and from a fiesta to a beach party, you can create a more fun backyard by transforming your outdoor space to suit the theme. 

These outdoor entertainment area ideas provide next-level entertainment for crowd-pleasing activities and memory-worth experiences. 

How Do I Build an Outdoor Entertainment Area? 

Outdoor entertainment areas can include several elements in the design. Even those with a smaller budget can create a welcoming space that is functional for food preparation while also creating a cozy place to gather, and enjoy drinks and conversation. Here are three key elements of an outdoor entertainment area: 

1. Barbecuing Area 

Building a backyard barbecue area doesn’t require a big budget. If you’re a bit strapped for cash, all you really need is a barbecue. However, you can also design an affordable built-in look by creating a counter using cost-effective materials such as interlocking stone, pressure-treated wood or PVC decking materials. Higher budgets can go all out with a full-on outdoor kitchen. 

2. Dining Area 

A dining area is a must for outdoor entertaining because it spares having to run back and forth between your indoor and outdoor space. Based on your budget, you can invest in a simple dining set, or consider adding a temporary, semi-permanent or permanent structure such as a gazebo or pergola. It’s always nice to have your dining area in a more sheltered area to protect against the sun.  

This also allows for netted curtains to keep bugs away. We recommend at least a six-seater dining table when entertaining. For parties, you can consider bringing in additional folding chairs and tables or get creative using indoor furniture for temporary seating. On sunny days you can even layout blankets on the lawn “picnic” style. 

3. Seating area 

Seating is a must when throwing a BBQ party. Today, outdoor furniture is designed for lounging and entertaining with larger sectional sofas that can seat anywhere from six to eight people. You can also invest in some affordable stackable seating such as Muskoka or dining chairs. This makes it easier to store them away when they’re not needed.  

A party also feels more festive with some colourful outdoor pillows. If your budget and/or space allow, you can also spread out a little more and create a secondary seating area. Popular backyard designs today include fire pit/fireplaces, gaming areas, or outdoor home entertainment areas complete with Wi-Fi connectivity and screens for movie nights. 

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How to Host a BBQ Party 

To be considered the host with the most in your circle of family and friends it takes some careful planning to throw a successful backyard barbecue party. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Grill Ideas For Backyard Parties 

A great idea is to carry a theme throughout the party including the menu. For example, if you are doing a fiesta theme you can create a Mexican grill menu with chicken, steak, pork and shrimp, grilled veggies and all the trimmings so people can build their own tacos and burritos. For a luau, you can slow grill large slabs of pork with pineapple and Hawaiian-inspired salads and sides. 

Cookout Ideas For Large Groups 

Cookout themes are fun for large groups as you can allow people to eat when they’re feeling hungry. It’s a more casual approach to dining, taking the pressure off you and involving everyone in the meal prep process. For example, you can have your fire pit set up with some long skewers stuck into the surrounding lawn with a cooler filled with assorted sausages and hot dogs. Guests can sit around the fire cooking their meals. A condiment station with assorted buns, toppings and sides completes the cookout theme. 

BBQ Entertaining Recipes 

An important hack for today’s outdoor parties is to consider the special dietary requirements of your guests. Serving up a platter of ribs, steaks or burgers won’t cut it, with so many people choosing to eat healthier or becoming more aware of their food intolerances. For example, if you want to go the burger route include grilled portobello mushrooms or eggplant in the mix for vegans. A simple solution is to serve an assortment of kebabs such as beef, pork, shrimp, chicken and veggies providing something for everyone. You can also offer more substantial sides, so those avoiding certain foods have more options. 

Your outdoor backyard BBQ party can be as elegant or casual as you like. The key is to make sure you have time to get in on the fun. The team at Ultimate Home Comfort has curated a recipe book with some of their favourite grilled foods. Download the book for free!  

Outside Smokers 

Smoked foods are all the rage these days. Investing in a smoker is an excellent addition to your backyard entertaining plans. The benefits of BBQ smokers include: 

  • Amazing flavours 
  • Easy to use 
  • Extra juicy meats, poultry, and seafood 
  • Perfect for large gatherings handling larger chunks of meat, whole chickens or turkeys 
  • You can use it all year round including smoking your Thanksgiving or Holiday turkey 
  • You can become a smoking fiend smoking meat and everything in between such as fish, brisket, pork shoulder, and your own bacon 

For your party, however, you can really impress guests with mouthwatering BBQ smoker recipes including: 

  • Pulled pork shoulder 
  • Coffee rubbed beef brisket 
  • Memphis style ribs 
  • Beer can chicken 
  • Maple salmon “candy” 
  • Kansas chicken wings 
  • Whole turkey 
  • Italian style sausage 

The possibilities are endless, allowing you to finesse your own delectable recipes sure to impress. 

Heated Outdoor Party 

Even though it’s summer, our Halifax weather is unpredictable. Having a place where guests can gather and warm up on a chilly night calls for a fire pit or outdoor heater. A fire pit gathering is also something you can throw well into the fall months, allowing you to make the most of your outdoor space. Some fire pit area ideas include: 

  • Fire Tables: The space-saving fire table is a multipurpose backyard feature acting as a table when not in use ideal for drinks or serving platters, and a fireplace when the temperature drops. 
  • Concrete Block Fire Pit: A DIY fire pit made of a simple circle of stacked concrete blocks creates a budget-friendly and cheerful gathering place for your outdoor fire pit party. Encircle an affordable fire bowl and voila, instant fire pit. 
  • Built-in Seating: Create an outdoor “pony wall” that serves double duty as a retaining wall and seating around the fire pit or outdoor fireplace. 
  • River Rock: Keep your fire pit safer by placing it on a bed of river rock. Spread the river rock out far enough to accommodate your seating area to create a designated gathering place that is also ember-proof. 
  • Metal Gazebo: Invest in a semi-permanent metal gazebo to create a fireproof shelter ideal if the weather really turns foul and includes rain. 

Smaller yards call for convenient outdoor heaters placed on your deck, porch, or patio. Just switch them on when the weather gets chilly. 

Planning to do a lot of backyard entertaining this summer? This guide will get you started. We’re your backyard entertaining headquarters with the equipment you need to whip up a tantalizing meal for summer gatherings. Whether it’s grills, barbecues, smokers, fire pits, heaters, and more, we’ve got you covered. Contact the experts at Ultimate Home Comfort today to get make your backyard party central!