Grilling is central to the full experience and enjoyment of summer. Cookout sessions and backyard get-togethers provide opportunities to connect with friends and family. Check out these ten great grill station ideas for your summer entertaining ventures.
Light Up Your Grill Station
Lighting is a key factor in setting the mood for any situation, and backyard cookouts are no exception. Not only do you need to have a crystal-clear view of those wonderful foods that you’re grilling, but you’ll want to create a festive atmosphere for your guests as well.
Put colored LED bulbs into your porch light fixtures before your get-together begins to set up the party vibe, or try using some outdoor light strands to beautify your patio and keep things looking lively once the sun goes down.
Stay Mobile with a Rolling Outdoor Island Grill Station
There are a number of rolling grills on the market, and you can expand these in order to provide yourself with extra cooking and storage space if needed. It’s simpler than some people think to frame your grill with a pair of rolling shelves attached on either side. For a more rustic feel, recycle old wooden pallets for an affordable DIY approach.
Keeping your grilling station mobile will afford you the ability to adapt to unpredictable situations that might otherwise compromise everyone’s enjoyment of the party. If unexpected rain sets in, you can roll your grill into the porch or beneath the entrance of your garage. If the layout of your yard has required you to set up tables undesirably far from your kitchen area, then your grill station can be rolled closer in order to give people easier access to the food.
Provide Lots of Shade on Sunnier Days
Sun damage is a very real threat, especially during the summer months when people go out and spend longer stretches of time in the direct sunlight. While it’s definitely worth a try to encourage all of your guests to wear sunscreen, you can do your part to help by providing lots of shade to sit in.
Whenever possible, include an already shaded area such as a screened-in porch or covered patio in the layout of your entertainment area. If you don’t have easy access to these, then setting up a few patio umbrellas or tent awnings will do just fine. Don’t forget to include a good source of shade where you’ll be grilling.
Set Up an Outdoor Lounge to Wait Comfortably
Comfort is key to a relaxing, enjoyable summer afternoon, and your guests will undoubtedly want to lounge while they wait for their food. A good portion of a cookout involves waiting for the grilling to be done, after all, so you’ll want to make sure that there are plenty of comfy seats surrounding your grilling station.
Arrange a few pieces of patio furniture around your grill so that you can sit and chat with your friends and loved ones while you cook. The wonderful smells of sizzling meat and vegetables are sure to get everyone looking forward to the meal as well, meaning that they’ll enjoy the food that much more once it’s ready.
Pick a Style or Theme for Your Grill Station
Choosing and executing a theme for your grilling station is a great way to add to the festive atmosphere of your cookout and showcase your cooking. Always keep fire safety at the forefront of your mind, but have fun decorating your grilling station. Simple approaches like decorative paper plates and disposable cups that fit in with your theme always work, and decorative elements near your grill can work as well.
For instance, if you’re going with a beach theme for your get-together, then you can drape flower garlands around your grill stand and decorate the nearby patio furniture to match. If you’re opting for a more sophisticated theme, then decorating the tables near your cooking station with candles and a few elegant flowers can tie everything together nicely.
Make Sure You Have Plenty of Work Surfaces
One of the most important aspects of a good grilling station is efficiency. You don’t want to contend with a cramped work space and wind up knocking things over or spilling key ingredients, and you don’t want guests to have to wait longer for their food while you’re constantly fetching cooking tools and seasonings.
Make sure you’ve got ample surface area at your grilling station in order to accommodate everything you’ll need so that you don’t have to run back and forth between your indoor kitchen and the grilling station as much. Most concepts for rolling grill stations include a bit of storage space, but don’t hesitate to bring out extra tables, racks, or crates as well.
Present Guests with Your Own Original Menu
A fun way to show your guests that you care about their preferences is to provide a couple of homemade menus for them to pass around. Include time estimates for how long each dish will take to cook on the grill, and feature a list of sides that will be available for everyone to enjoy.
You can make your meal menus more stylish by tying them in with your theme, and you’ll want to provide a separate list of available drinks as well. Just be sure to prepare ahead of time with at least some idea of what your guests will like in order to decrease the likelihood of running out of the group favorites.
Include a Drink Station or Outdoor Bar Cart
Speaking of drinks, make sure you have a wide selection available for you and your guests to enjoy. Beers in the cooler, an outdoor wine rack, and a mixed drink station are all great ideas to get the party started. Make sure you provide pitchers of non-alcoholic drinks as well so that children and any other guests who don’t drink alcohol. While it’s exciting to focus on providing a fun mix of drinks, sodas, and iced teas for your friends and loved ones, always remember that hydration is most important–especially during the summertime. Help everyone beat the heat and reduce their risk of dehydration and sunstroke by constantly having cool, bottled water available at your drink station.
Set Up Additional Dining Spots to Add to Your Outdoor Lounge
Having designated areas outside for different pastimes not only helps organize and make the most of your space, but it keeps things lively by offering guests subtle changes in scenery as well. Adding a picnic table with benches or a set of collapsible patio furniture will provide guests with ample space to spread out their dishes and napkins, freeing up porch and lounge space for socializing and preventing your grilling area from getting congested.
This is a great opportunity to tie in creative uses of lighting: Use soft, pretty string lights in your outdoor lounge area to set a relaxed mood for sharing a few drinks, and set up tiki torches around picnic tables where people will sit to eat.
Include Safe, Fun Spaces for Children and Pets
If your guest list includes families that would like to bring their children and possibly their dogs along as well, then be sure to take this into account while formulating your summer entertainment plans.
Safety should always come first, so setting up a game or play area that will lure little ones away from your grilling station and any potential fire hazards is a great idea.