Today was a great day. I didn’t have to go to work and it was beautiful outside. So naturally, I decided to throw something on the grill. For me, grilling will never get old. Once I get that bad boy fired up, that first whiff of charcoal always makes my day! It reminds me that life is A okay (regardless of what’s going on), because I still get to enjoy my passion. And most times, that’s all I need.
Yes, I really did grill today. And while the charcoal was getting hot, my thoughts drifted to this site. Well, specifically this very page. Why? Because today we are going to talk about the things you need to set up your own cookout. That’s right, we are gonna set you up with a simple cookout checklist. This will guarantee that your get together runs nice and smooth.
I still remember what it was like when I began barbecuing. It seemed like there was always something that wasn’t getting done. Sure there was some uncertainty, but mostly I was bothered that I didn’t know what I needed. Yes of course that feeling passes, but we are gonna help you avoid that situation by giving you a simple cookout checklist to help you get started the right way.
So What Do You Need?
Before we go over the list, just keep in mind that there is no such thing as a ‘standard’ cookout. Everyone is different, because folks like eating different stuff. Heck, if you wanted all of the advice here boiled down into one nugget of wisdom, it would be this: Feel free to experiment and find what works best for you. Folks, you really can’t go wrong with that advice. Yes, when you go to a ‘traditional’ cookout you expect (and may only want to eat) hamburgers and hot dogs. Truth is, that’s definitely not the only thing to put on the grill. Ironically, it’s rare that I grill either one – and you know I’m on that darn grill all the time!
For your first time, let’s keep it simple. We can always build on it as we go forward. Here’s what you need:
Napkins – These are for your guests. Paper towels have always been fine in my book, but napkins show consideration for the people you invite. Some may consider this something small, but it matters. There are people that will judge you unkindly for making them use paper towels instead of napkins. They’re cheap enough. Just get them.
Paper Towels – You can use paper towels if you wish (I do), but their primary function is for cleaning up spills. Don’t underestimate the power and convenience of paper towels when you’re the one hosting the cookout. Spills are inevitable. Live with it and have em ready.
Utensils – Sure, its obvious. But that doesn’t make them any less necessary. Get whichever kind you like, but buy them separately, cause you’ll need extra forks. At least one time a year we end up running outta forks. And I have yet to catch the dude who’s eating em.
Plates, Cups, Bowls – Like the last one, get whatever kind you want but stock up! Some cookouts encourage people to take a plate home with em (I do that one too). Therefore, its best to have more than you think you’ll need and you will have just enough. Folks go through these the most; cups too if you plan on serving drinks that aren’t canned.
Sturdy Trash Bags – Pay a little extra and get quality trash bags for the cleanup. Skip this one, and when you’re cussin’ the air after cleaning up the third spill from a cheap busted bag, you will remember where you read this. Happens to the everyone, but it doesn’t have to happen to you.
Tables and Chairs – Everything to this point has been about your guests. You want them to be comfortable, right? Then do not skip this step (and don’t be cheap either!). There are some fine fold up tables out there, just like chairs. The ideal number to keep in mind is 20-25. This is how many people you’ll want to be able to seat comfortably. Once more people show, it’s going to be visibly crowded, and everyone will understand that you ran outta room.
Tablecloths – Disposable Tablecloths are not only a nice touch, they make cleanup a snap! Here’s a case of a small detail going a long way. Your guests will appreciate that if there are spills, there won’t be any guilty feelings about ruining your tables. And the kiddies can go crazy. This item is a good investment.
Outdoor Trashcan – It’s fine if you use one from the house. Just make sure that it is sturdy enough that a gust of wind won’t blow it over. Put one of these outside and a lot of the cleanup will take care of itself.
You have probably noticed that we left some key things off the cookout checklist. And your suspicion would be right. For starters, its important that you understand that there is a bunch of stuff to cover when you invite guests over. And we haven’t even talked about the different foods and cooking accessories that you’ll need. That stuff will be saved for a different post. Right now, just work on these things. The disposable stuff is easy, but the setup stuff can get expensive. Choose wisely. But the good news is once you have it, you’re halfway there!
Next we’ll talk about getting on that grill.