Throw a perfect backyard barbecue party


Pick a theme

This may sound like a lot of work or even a bit cheesy, but surprisingly a theme can make your life easier and your party more fun. With a Mexican theme, serve grilled fish tacos, guacamole and margaritas, or serve burgers, brats and Berghoff beer for a Chicago barbecue theme, for example.

"It creates a more fun and memorable event," says Debi Lilly, chief eventeur of A Perfect Event in Chicago.

Create a menu based on the theme-everything from drinks and appetizers to main dish, sides and dessert, Lilly says. Plan your guest list, figure out how much food is needed and what guests can bring.

"I always love to do a theme where people are actually bringing something that goes with it," says Julie Reinhardt, author of She-Smoke, a book about barbecuing.

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