Every May, men (and the odd woman too) from across the States flock to Memphis, armed with nothing but a grill and a cool-box of fresh meat, to battle it out for the title of best barbecue chef in America and, of course, for a share of the $110,000 in prizes that awaits those whose grilled meats are more gourmet than garbage.

For us mere mortals however, a barbecue is more of a backyard affair, a way to spend a lazy Saturday lunchtime amongst friends and family and a chance for men to show off their open-fire cookery skills (read, the ability to turn chicken into charcoal). Whilst a weekend barbecue is a low key affair, you still want to get it right. No one wants to be the person who gave the guests food-poisoning, or worse, served up warm beer on a hot day.

Want my advice? Here are the 5 things you should definitely avoid if you want to impress the guests…

BBQ Mistakes 1

Image via: Shockingly Tasty

1. Relying on Guests for Food

Everyone loves a good ‘pot luck’ barbecue, where each guest is asked to bring one dish along for the rest to share. However, if you’re the main host, at least make sure you’ve got the basics covered – meat, buns, ketchup and a salad.

When faced with a choice about what to bring, many guests will try to be creative – they’ll probably assume that someone else will think of the more simple options.

2. Not Making Arrangements for the Kids

A barbecue is supposed to be fun, not just for you but for your kids too – if you know kids are coming, make sure you have some activities prepared so that they can have a good time and the adults can relax and lie back on their sun loungers without being pestered every five minutes. Fill up a paddling pool, dig out your old badminton set or have the barbecue in a local park where there’s a play are nearby.

3. Forgetting the Trash Cans

Or, keeping them inside. No one likes cleaning up after the party, and if you don’t have somewhere obvious for people to dispose of paper plates, napkins and everything else, when you put away the garden furniture at the end of the day you’re going to find yourself with a lawn that’s littered with trash.

Make sure the trash can is outside too – keep it indoors and you won’t be clearing the yard but you will be mopping the mud off your kitchen floor!

BBQ Mistakes 2

Image via: Gunnar Hafdal

4. Leaving Shopping ‘Til the Last Minute

Nothing creates stress like nipping to shops an hour before your guests are due to arrive, only to find they’ve sold out of charcoal and other barbecuers have bought up the best sausages. Plus, for a truly spectacular barbecue you’ll want to marinade those meats over night to let the flavour from the sauce really sink in.

5. Not Buying Enough Drinks

It’s a barbecue so everything’s supposed to be served up flaming hot, right? Don’t forget that on a sunny day, it’s a nice cold drink that you’re guests will really be after. Make sure you’ve got something for all tastes, including root beer or other soft drinks for the kids, then fill your cooler with ice cubes and everyone’s happy!

Leave me a comment below if you can think of any other barbecue mistakes that are bound to lead to disaster!

About the author: Estelle Page is a self-employed interior designer on a mission to make the world a prettier place to live in, one home at a time. Inspired by antique homes and the great outdoors, it’s her passion to help every person to find that perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality in their own home. She's also a keen DIYer and gardener with an interest in eco-friendly, green design.

How Not to Throw a Barbecue 2

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