It’s hard to let go of summer when you think about how much fun you’ve had and the beautiful weather just taunts you to come enjoy it. But school has started for most and it’s time to hit the books and get back to a responsible routine. Instead of ripping off the summer band-aid why not have just one last summer send off party before you get too bogged down with your studies.

1. Go potluck-style. 

Official invitations are always wonderful and appreciated however we’re sure you have your hands full with the back to school tasks so make it easier on yourself and set up a Facebook event or Evite with the promise of grilled meats and cold drinks, and asking them to bring side dishes and drinks to share. For a laid-back BBQ, there’s no shame in asking for help—in my experience, most people like to contribute what they can, even if it’s just a bag of chips and a six-pack.


2. Pick easy, classic recipes—with a fresh twist.

Barbecues are some of the best past times, but many of us have natural inclination is to make a 100+ item grocery list and cook all the things. But you also want to actually be able to enjoy friends’ company, try to limit your shopping list to five key recipes that are summer BBQ classics, but each has a unique twist—either in flavor or presentation—so they taste like they took a lot of effort, but (shh!) they totally didn’t.


3. Pick pitcher-perfect drinks.

BBQs and beer go together like manis and pedis, but with a back – to – school party being geared more towards the kids, providing beer and wine is appropriate and you can spice up the kids options with a fun Mock-tail and of course tea, water, and lemonade are always good options as well.

4. Set the mood with your music.

Certain songs just scream, “SUMMER!” and will keep your party guests in a great mood all afternoon and evening long. We would recommend an eclectic, feel-good mix of classic rock, Southern soul, 90’s hip-hop, and upbeat pop classics—think The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, A Tribe Called Quest, and Michael Jackson—and then throw in a little bit of delightfully corny yacht rock (Steely Dan, ELO, Kenny Loggins) for good measure. As long as the music makes you smile and dance, it should do the trick. Songza has a great selection of curated playlists specifically geared toward barbecues, so you don’t even have to make your own!


5. Bust out the yard games.

Adults and kids alike will be thrilled to see that you’ve set up a game of croquet, horseshoes, corn hole, or badminton in the backyard some age appropriate games to rent are:

1 – 12

Bounce Castle, snow-ball, Batter up, ring toss, Hoop-it-up

13 – 23

corn hole, ladder ball, inflatable golf, Mini golf, horseshoes

Four cans of spray paint are all you need to make this awesome outdoor Twister board, and something as simple as a bucket full of colorful sidewalk chalk or a couple of squirt guns has a way of bringing out the kid in everyone. Another fun DIY idea is lawn bowling: take 10 empty plastic soda bottles, fill them with water (add food coloring for extra pizzazz), and then just grab any ball and go for a strike!


6. Keep your set-up simple.

There’s really no need to overdo it with decorations at a BBQ. Simply string up some lights around our patio, put out a few picnic blankets on the lawn to supplement our seating, and bring out some tea lights in mason jars after sunset. Done and done.


7. Don’t forget dessert.

Dessert is a very important element of any party, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. Maybe try a carnival style sweet treat like Cotton Candy or Sno cones!