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Summer is barbecue season. If you’re planning to invite family and friends over, you want to make sure everyone has fun and stays safe. Here are some tips to help you plan.

How to Feed a Crowd
Serve a variety of foods, but keep things fairly simple and traditional. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and steak are classic favorites, but you can offer other options if some of your guests are vegetarians or vegans. A meat thermometer can come in handy to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature.

Make sure the person operating the grill knows how to use it safely. Fire-resistant gloves can prevent burns. Keep young kids away from the grill. A baby gate is a simple and effective solution. Don’t use a grill near a house, awning or anything else that could catch fire if a flame leapt up unexpectedly.

Sides such as potato and macaroni salad are popular. If you serve those, make sure they’re kept cold to prevent food poisoning. Tossed salad and fruit salad are some delicious and healthier options. For dessert, you can serve cake or individual frozen desserts or set up a sundae bar.

Have plenty of bottled water, soda and iced tea available, along with lots of ice. If you plan to serve alcohol, you can ask guests what their preferences are or make it BYOB. If a guest has too much to drink, have someone who hasn’t been drinking drive the individual home, call a taxi or ridesharing service, or let the person crash on the couch.

How to Make Sure Everyone Has a Good Time
Provide enough tables and seating for your guests to relax whenever they want. If you don’t have picnic tables, you can rent or borrow some large round tables and chairs.

Offer entertainment options for everyone. Games such as bocce, cornhole, badminton and croquet are popular for summer barbecues. If you have enough space and people, softball and volleyball can be good choices. For younger kids, bubbles and sidewalk chalk can be fun.

Create a playlist ahead of time with hits by a range of popular artists. Keep the music loud enough to create a festive atmosphere, but not so loud that people will have to shout to have a conversation or that your neighbors will complain.

Keep Bugs Away
Place trash cans away from seating areas so flies won’t bother guests while they’re eating. Once everyone has gone through the buffet line, cover the food to keep insects off it.

Mosquitoes are a common nuisance in the summer. Instead of dousing everyone with insect repellent, light a few citronella candles and scatter them around the yard to keep bugs away.

Plan a Successful Event
Hosting a barbecue takes quite a bit of work, but you can avoid being overwhelmed and make sure everyone has a good time by keeping things simple and following some tried-and-true tips. Always make fun and safety your top priorities.

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