We’ve all been there… there's nothing like tentatively dabbing the fresh ketchup stain on your white t-shirt in your friend's back garden, or being perched on the edge of a flower bed when all other seating options, even the heavy dining rooms chairs that have been ceremoniously dragged from inside, are taken in the first ten minutes. It’s that time of the year that outdoor socialising slips back into everyone's calendars, so let’s get good at it!

The rules aren’t that different from general party hosting - planning ahead is key! We’ve pulled a list of fun, practical and plain old essentials so you can host your own grown-up BBQ to be proud of. No disposable trays here!

The Space

A good amount of seating will always be a challenge, even in the most generous of garden spaces. Make sure your space is as open as possible to allow (and encourage) mingling. If you’re having your neighbour's round, why not ask if they can bring a few of their spare garden chairs to throw into the mix? If not… a few tactfully placed cushions dotted around will invite people to make themselves comfortable wherever. Grab yourself some solar fairy lights and set them up ahead of time, should the party continue into the night and make sure there’s a couple of blankets at the ready (we live in N.I after all!)

The Prep

Spare us the eye roll.. planning ahead couldn’t be any more important. BBQs are the most high-pressure dinner gatherings you’ll have, because of the food service and the fact you’ll be cooking on demand with an audience. Lessen that stress by getting everything (yes everything) ready before. Marinate your meats, chop your veg, assemble your skewers! You’ll thank us later.

The Main Event

Be confident and more importantly save yourself the hassle of ‘cooking to order’. Buffet style it, guests can help themselves once batches are done. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a BBQ and having to wait hours before you actually eat. Make sure your barbecue is ready and lit as people arrive. Save the exhibitionism that comes with barbecue bravado for the food. Sausages and burgers are a must, why not throw in some culinary flare with some interestingly flavoured chicken or fish. Veggie’s will also look for something hot, why not try halloumi or stuffed mushrooms?

Sides & More Sides

Despite your best efforts, food won’t be ready as quickly as hungry guests hope. Make sure you up your snack game, have an array ready when they arrive. Trusty faithful's like crisps, dips, veg sticks and hummus will even do it. Forget what you’ve heard, side dishes can be just as exciting as what is coming off the grill. Make it colourful with different styles of salads, or why not spice up the traditional potato salad with a spicy twist? And make sure you don’t forget your confident offering - ketchup is key!

Follow these simple steps and you’ll definitely beef up your barbecue game this summer. Happy hosting!