Photo credit: Predi via Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The spring and summer months are full of celebration-worthy events, from Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to graduations and the 4th of July barbecues. With the warm weather and sunshine this time of year, these events are best hosted outside!

However, outdoor entertaining comes with its own set of challenges, from unwanted pests to overcooked meat. With some planning, you can easily avoid many common barbecue mishaps and pull off a great party! So, as you’re planning your next backyard event, here are seven common outdoor entertaining mistakes and how to avoid them.

Most Common Barbecue Blunders & Outdoor Entertaining Problems

Buzzing, biting pests

These uninvited party guests can make your friends and family miserable by flying around and biting them all night long! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get rid of mosquitoes, gnats, stink bugs, and more.

  • Set up several fans in your backyard to keep the air moving. Mosquitoes and other small insects are not strong fliers, so the breeze from a fan should be enough to deter them.
  • Offer your guests plenty of bug spray choices. Repellents with DEET are usually the most effective, but you can also provide natural mosquito repellent for those who might prefer a gentler option.
  • Leading up to your event, be sure you eliminate any standing water on your property, or treat water features with mosquito dunks to prevent mosquito breeding.
  • Contact us and schedule a barrier spray that will keep away pests for up to 21 days after application. These treatments are effective and safe for kids and pets.

Rain or thunderstorms

Spring and summer weather is always unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case the skies open up. If you’re hosting a big event, consider renting a tent or canopy to keep guests covered and dry. For parties with a smaller guest list, you could just move the party indoors if it starts to rain.

Not having enough chairs

Usually people like to mingle and walk around at parties, but it’s still important to have plenty of chairs in case people do want to sit down. You don’t want your guests to feel like they have to hunt for a seat. A good rule of thumb is to have seating for at least 80 percent of guests. You could simply bring indoor chairs outside, or if you need even more furniture, borrow it from your neighbors or rent it from an events company.

Bad timing with the grill

Planning your grilling is key so that you don’t waste propane, keep guests waiting too long, or end up with soggy, cold meat. Preheat the grill 10 to 15 minutes before you want to start cooking (sooner with charcoal). Grill everything up about 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. You’ll want to let it rest for a few minutes after it comes off the grill so the juices stay trapped inside, but if you let it sit for too long after cooking, it’ll become very unappetizing.

Dry, tough, or burnt meat from the grill

Grilling is an art form, so it’s very easy to mess things up. Make sure you read up about the proper cooking temperatures, times, and techniques before you start. A few common mistakes include using too much heat, having flames that are too big, and not knowing when your meat is done. All of these things can lead to subpar meat. Serious Eats has some great suggestions to avoid these mishaps.

Spreading food-borne illnesses

Serving food outdoors in the summer can be tricky because of the heat and sun. Leaving food out in these conditions can cause it to grow bacteria that can make your guests sick. Always take food safety precautions during an outdoor event.

  • Keep food out of direct sunlight. Use a tent or set up the buffet table under some trees.
  • Use coolers and ice to keep things cold. If you have mayonnaise- or egg-based salads, be sure to have ice surrounding the bowls to prevent them from getting too warm and growing bacteria. For drinks, the heat isn’t a health concern, but it is a matter of guest comfort. Have plenty of ice chests for keeping beers or sodas nice and chilled.
  • Make sure your meats are cooked to the proper temperatures. Consult the USDA’s internal temperature chart if you’re unsure.

Not having enough food or drinks 

Nothing ends a party faster than running out of food or drinks! While you don’t want to be stuck with a ton of leftovers, you do want to make sure that all of your guests can get their fill. Good Housekeeping recommends having the following portions per person:

  • 8 to 10 hors d’oeuvres
  • 1 ½ burgers or ½ a pound of bone-in meat
  • ¼ to ½ a pound of side dishes
  • 1 ½ drinks per hour

Happy summer entertaining! Don’t forget to contact DC Mosquito Squad to prevent mosquitoes and other pests from crashing your party!

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