Are you wondering what to bring to a cookout? It's easier than you might think to plan, and, because of the casual atmosphere of a cookout, everyone coming can contribute food or essentials. An easy way to organize this gathering is to include what each person should bring on the cookout invitations. Keep the choices rather general so the invited guest can bring what she likes, but you still have the cookout items you need.
Divide what you need into categories. These categories could include appetizers, munchies, drinks, paper goods, salads, main course (this will usually be provided by you and will be whatever is going on the grill), ice bags and dessert. You can combine categories like drinks and ice for one person to bring if you want, but food choices should be assigned to one person so you don't wind up with a bunch of desserts.
You can also request something specific, such as a specialty that you know your guest makes that everyone likes. Otherwise, you should allow your guests to have the choice. To avoid putting people on the spot, one strategy is to assign the drinks and ice or paper goods to a guest who you know does not or cannot cook.
It is all too easy to forget some items for a cookout, but you will be glad you asked people to bring the following:
Plastic Wrap: With plastic wrap on hand, people can take their leftovers home with them.
Serving Utensils: You don't want guests to dig into a hearty potato salad with a small fork. Ask guests to bring serving utensils along with the dishes, or bring them yourself.
Ice Bags: For storing drinks outdoors and keeping items that might spoil cold, you will need ice bags. If a guest is assigned to bring a few ice bags, that will make your planning easier.
Preparing For Eating Outdoors
Remember that a cookout usually implies eating outside. Guests will need places to sit. If you don't have enough folding chairs, you can ask guests to bring some to help make sure enough seating is available. You may also want guests to bring tiki torches to fight off mosquitoes.
Once you have everything you need, serve it buffet-style. This way, guests can select the food they want to eat and where they want to eat it.
Summer cookout games that get everyone interacting can make warm-weather barbeques even more fun. Simple family outdoor games, ranging from drawing a hopscotch grid with chalk on the driveway to setting up a badminton game, can create fond memories.
A 4th of July cookout is not only a chance to get in some good backyard cooking, but it is also an opportunity to thank our forefathers for fighting for our freedoms.