Graduation Party Food Ideas

Barbecue Menu ideas party


A Fourth of July party may be a casual affair—no need to serve an extravagant four-course meal or bring out the good china—but that doesn't mean you're limited to burgers, hot dogs, and plastic tablecloths. In fact, an Independence Day party means you can treat your family and friends to an exceptional meal and a fun, festive atmosphere without fussing over elaborate recipes or polishing the silver.

While an outdoor party can be easier to host than a formal dinner, some planning is required. For guidance, we spoke to Karen Bussen, a New York event planner and author of several books on entertaining. Bussen's guide to throwing a stress-free Fourth of July celebration starts with a buffet menu featuring barbecue favorites that can conveniently be prepared in advance—think grilled chicken and ribs, slaw, and fruit salad. Bussen also shares her ideas for setting up the bar and creating a patriotic table, as well as tips for lighting, music, kids' activities, even setting up a special place to watch the fireworks. And, these backyard party ideas are perfect not just for July 4th but every day.

A Fourth of July barbecue is just about as casual as entertaining gets, and your menu should reflect that. Bussen recommends focusing on simple recipes with "good-quality ingredients, " which is easy in the summer when so much great produce is available. Add a few homemade touches, such as your own barbecue sauce. She also likes to include several dishes that can be served warm or at room temperature because they can be made ahead, cutting down on last-minute fussing and stress. "The more you can do in advance, " Bussen says, "the better, as you'll be able to greet your guests and have fun." With the exception of the guacamole, which should be made just before the guests arrive, everything on Bussen's menu can be prepared the morning of the party or one day before.



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