Jul 24, 2017

12 Excellent Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Cook-Out

Jessica W.

Cook-outs are definitely loads of fun. You get to unwind with your friends and family, enjoy tasty food and cool drinks, and have some genuine fun on the side – if you’re an attendee, that is.

If you’re the host, however, things are a bit different since you have to deal with a lot of stress. After all, organizing the perfect cook-out does take some amount of planning and effort.

Still, wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy everything we first mentioned without you getting gray hair?

Well, if you’re in the process of planning an upcoming cook-out, and are a bit worried about how much work you’ve got ahead of you, you can relax.

That’s because we’ve got your back with these 12 amazing, stress-proof ideas we cooked up (no pun intended):

1. Keep It Small

The first tip is the simplest one. Ironically, it’s also the most overlooked one as well.

By keeping your guest list small, you’ll be able to save time on planning, cut down on costs, and even be able to enjoy a more intimate time.

Of course, if you’re planning on having a large gathering anyway, this piece of advice isn’t really doable. In that case, the rest of the pointers on our list should offer you all the help you need.

2. Always Think Ahead of Time

You should try to plan the cook-out at least a week in advance. Also, try not to host the cook-out on week days. Do it on the weekend instead, preferably around 10-11 AM

This way, you’ll have plenty of time to get everything ready for the cook-out during the week. Yes, that also includes making preparations ahead of time. For example, here are 2 things you could do to save time (and get rid of stress):

·         You can marinate and skewer the food (make-ahead recipes are a lifesaver in such situations) before the actual cook-out.

·      You can also get out all the dishes, silverware, napkins, and everything else you might need beforehand. Doing something like this can actually save you up to a half an hour (or more) of time on the day of the cook-out.

Actually, speaking of dishes …

3. Disposable Silverware, Cups, and Plates Are Your Best Friends

Let’s face it: When it comes to a cook-out, nobody looks forward to cleaning up afterwards – especially the host. And asking everyone to start grabbing dishwashing liquid and a rag, and start cleaning up all the plates and glasses right after they just enjoyed a delicious meal will only spoil the mood.

So, what’s the solution then?

Get paper and plastic silverware, plates, and cups before the cook-out. Don’t worry – your guest won’t mind using them. They’re coming to enjoy themselves and eat some great food, not eat off of fancy china, after all.

This way, once everyone’s done eating, all you have to do is gather the disposable silverware, plates, and cups, and just throw them away – it’s as simple as that!

That actually brings us to our next tip.

4. Don’t Forget about the Trash Bags

Sure, this might not be a very glamorous subject to discuss, but it’s still worth mentioning.

You don’t want to host the perfect cook-out only to end up realizing you’ll have to use grocery bags or – even worse – your hands to gather all the trash and throw it away, right? You’ll only get yourself (and your guests) dirty.

We recommend packing trash bags ahead of time. Thus, you won’t have to worry about the clean-up process being too annoying, since trash bags are easy to use and can hold a lot of waste.

5. Celebrating a Special Occasion? Get a Gift Basket (or Two)!

Organizing a cook-out is the best way to celebrate a special occasion (an engagement, a promotion, somebody’s birthday – you name it!).

If that’s the case for you, then you’re probably a bit stressed out about what gift you should get – or what you should do to make the cook-out really memorable for the person(s) in question.

Well, if you’re out of ideas and already have your hands full with the rest of the cook-out organizational details, don’t worry – there’s one smart thing you can do.

What are we talking about? Gift baskets, of course! They’re an attractive gift choice and very popular – not to mention that they’re a time-efficient option as well.

Just imagine how excited and happy everyone will be when you surprise them with an actual gift tower, for instance – truly, a feast for the eyes, wouldn’t you say so?

And since you can order gift baskets a day or two in advance, you’ll be able to focus on other matters up until the day of the cook-out. And yes, you can rest assured they gift baskets will arrive on time.

Plus, a gift basket can save you the trouble of having to think of a dessert and cook/prepare it. After all, let’s be honest – a couple of Gourmet Gift Assortment Boxes or Ecstasy Snack Gifts can serve as appetizing desserts just fine.

Best of all – everyone at the cook-out can easily share the boxes with each other. In turn, that will encourage people to socialize even more, thus ensuring everyone has a great time.

Oh, and don’t worry about the heat ruining these amazing presents – they all come in heat-resistant packaging.

And all you can make all of that happen with just a few clicks and an online order!

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Let People Help Out

You’re the host, so it’s only natural to feel like you have to handle everything on your own – especially if you want to celebrate a special occasion. However, you shouldn’t always listen to that little voice in your head that tells you that you just have to do that.

Fact is, most people who are invited to a cook-out have no problem contributing – many of them will even ask you what they can do, or what they can bring.

So, don’t be afraid to tell your guests that each one of them can bring along a side-dish, drinks, or aperitifs if they want to.

This way, you’ll have less hassle to deal with, and you’ll be able to relax more and actually enjoy the cook-out.

7. Focus on Just One Signature Cocktail

You’re not the first – nor the last – cook-out host who tries to outdo herself/himself by providing guests with a myriad of cocktails to choose from.

While that might seem like a good idea at first, it can really backfire. First of all, you’ll have to get a lot of ingredients, and spend a lot of time preparing all the cocktails on the day of the cook-out.

Secondly, if many of the cocktails are left untouched, you’ll just end up feeling a bit disappointed – and that’s not what a cook-out’s about!

Well, that’s why we recommend just choosing one signature cocktail instead.

And if you’re short on ideas and not sure which signature cocktail will do, allow us to recommend you a simple, yet elegant solution: The Frozen Watermelon Summer Cocktail. It’s an ideal, delicious, and refreshing choice for hot weather.

Plus, it’s usually made with a bit of vodka or prosecco. So, you can rest assured that everybody will be guaranteed to enjoy themselves.

If you’re not sure how to make a Frozen Watermelon Summer Cocktail, here’s a useful video (don’t worry – it’s only 2 minutes long, and the presenter is particularly cute and charismatic).

8. Be Strategic When It Comes to Tables

Using just one large table isn’t very efficient. It’s actually quite an inconvenience for everybody, as everything is huddled in one place. Eventually, food will get mixed up, drinks will be spilled, and nobody will be too thrilled about having to eat at a dirty, overcrowded table.

That’s why we recommend using 3 tables:

·         One for dining

·         One for food and drinks

·         And an optional one where guests can make their own drinks (if you prefer this alternative to tip #6)

Oh, and here’s something useful to keep in mind regarding the “food & drinks” table – stack sturdy plates and cutlery on each end. This way, the food won’t end up getting backed up.

9. “Streamline” the Burger Buffet

If you’re planning on having a buffet with buns at the “food & drinks” table, be sure to place the bottom buns before the meat, and the top buns after the meat.

If you’ll do that, you’ll ensure the line is always moving.

10. Have a Few Tabletop/Yard/Outdoor Games Pre-Planned

Let’s say some of your guests end up arriving earlier than others, or that some of them start feeling the effects of the post-lunch slump quite fast (something like that can even cause the cook-out to end earlier than it is supposed to!).

Well, the best way to combat that is to have some pre-planned yard games in mind. Here are just a few examples:

·         Cornhole

·         Bocce Ball

·         Act the Part

·         Ladder Golf

In case you’re organizing the cook-out somewhere more remote and with more space, you can also try having fun with a game of football or soccer if everyone’s feeling up to it.

And if some of your guests aren’t very interested in sports, you can always liven up the atmosphere with a fun, exciting tabletop game (Ubongo can be a real lifesaver in such a situation!).

Whichever the case, we recommend printing out some basic instructions about each game (well, not about soccer and football specifically, but you know what we mean).

By doing that, you won’t have to worry about needing to explain how a particular game works to every single guest multiple times (we know how much time that ends up taking).

11. Use Coolers (Soft-Sided, Preferably) and Insulated Bags

One of the biggest stress-inducing factors that can ruin a great cook-out is the food/drinks that are supposed to be chilled, getting warm.

Let’s face it – nobody enjoys a warm beer or a melted ice cream, right?

That’s exactly why you should keep said food and drinks in soft-sided coolers and insulated bags. Not only are they efficient, but they’re very easy to carry around too.

Also, remember to place the ice packs on the top, not at the bottom.


Because cold air tends to sink.

12. And Finally – Don’t Forget about Yourself

It doesn’t matter that you’re the host, or that your family & friends are celebrating a special occasion. You also need to have fun and unwind. After all, you’ll be doing your best to make sure the cook-out turns out well, so you should make sure to enjoy it too!

And no, you won’t have to just settle for some generic advice. Here are a few things to keep in mind that will actually help you:

·         Wear comfortable clothing, so that you can relax and move around more easily.

·         Socialize with everyone present. Focusing on how the cook-out is going is a good idea, but don’t let that become the main focus for you.

·         And lastly – don’t forget to have one of those signature cocktails we just mentioned!

Liked the Article?

We’re happy to hear that, and we hope that our advice will help you organize a mouth-watering, fun, and – most importantly – stress-free cook-out. You know – the kind of cook-out all your friends will be talking about for months to come, and that will have them begging you to organize a similar one again and again.

Also, remember to share this article with your friends, family, and work colleagues – especially if you personally know somebody who’s planning to organize a cook-out soon, and could use some useful info

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