The Best Backyard Gathering: The Basics of What You Need

It may be winter right now, but we know that everyone is already thinking about shorts and t-shirts, sunny days, food on the bbq, drinks in heads, and friends gathering outside for a party. In a world full of unknowns, let one thing remain constant - friends and family eating and laughing together!

So even though it’s early still, you’re ready to start planning a summer full of get togethers that will put everything you’ve ever done to shame. Start making your list because you’ll need a lot of stuff if you’re going to be the host with the most! What are the top categories of “stuff” that you need to have for a successful backyard get-together? Let’s take a look…


If people are going to be somewhere, they’re going to be eating. Obviously you should think about who will be at your shindig, and assuming you’re inviting people you actually know, you should have a pretty good idea of what your friends like to eat.

You’re going to need some simple stuff: finger foods and snacks. If you’re feeling fancy, throw some cheese and crackers out there. Everyone likes pigs in a blanket, and if you don’t, get outta here! The patented bowl of chips with some dip will make an appearance I’m sure. Someone will bring a tray of already prepared cheese and crackers, or a collection of fruit or vegetables.

If you’re going BBQ style, throw some chicken on the grill. Burgers. Dogs. Wrap something in bacon because that’s always a hit. Get some lightly toasted buns, a metric ton of cheese to melt over everything. As long as you’ve got some protein for everyone you should be good to go.

There will be a side salad, I’m sure. Someone better handle the mac n cheese. Get a carb in the mix - maybe some potato salad, or a rice thing, or corn bread. And you’ll have all the other random stuff folks bring. So you might end up with 6 salads, who knows? You’re all together and you’re eating, it’s all good!


Grab some coolers, one for the boring “hydrating” things like water and anything without alcohol, and then get the “adult” cooler, which is always MUCH larger and really probably 4 coolers and not just one. Get all your favorite beverages in there. Beers, ciders, seltzers (because that’s who we are these days apparently - no judgment!) and whatever else needs to be cold. Have a spot on a table for wines for folks, and any hard liquor that isn’t cold. Couple stacks of of cups on the table and you’re good to go!


Quick and easy. Your bluetooth speaker will be dead because you forgot to charge it while preparing all the food for your party. That’s ok - someone else “always has one with them” and will get it from their car. Unfortunately that means they’ll probably be controlling the music from their phone, so everyone will be listening to whatever it is they like because the guy who always has the speaker isn’t the guy with the best taste in music. It’s a cosmic rule we all live with. But as long as there is SOME music, you’ll be alright.

We’ve been at the party for all of 17 minutes and we’re stuffed with food and booze, so now what do we do?


People realize that most of the time you’d rather just be at your house in your sweats watching netflix. The idea of being outside with a bunch of people is great, but the reality of it gets worse as you get full from eating and you run out of alcohol.

Too much? Just go with me here.

When you’re done asking “what have you been doing the last 6 months?” and saying things like “it’s great to have nice weather again,” you need SOMETHING to keep your guests at your party. The way to do it is….yard games! Get some friendly competition going with your slightly intoxicated and overly-fed friends and people will stick around for hours. What yard games to play, though?

Honestly, despite there being tons of games that are fun to play in this setting, one stands out:


It’s easy to learn, a bunch of people can play it, there’s no setup time, and everyone can keep drinking and eating and talking while they play. Pick a partner, so if you came as a couple, great, you’ve got a default forever partner to play games with. Now if your partner is terrible at games you’re on your own figuring out how to cleverly get someone else to partner with them so you can choose the other guy who takes these games way too seriously so you can crush everyone at the party. I can’t help you with that one (well, I can help with the crushing people because I’m phenomenal at cornhole, but I’m not at your party, so…) but you’ll figure it out.

family playing cornhole
Stand across from your partner, raise your beverage in a long-distance toast to them and your inevitable victory over your opponents. Stuff your mouth with one last bite of food that’s probably a little too cold to really enjoy but it doesn’t matter.

You’re outside. You’re with friends. You’re playing games. Life is good.