The Canberra Times

How to create an outdoor entertainment space to enjoy year round

How to create an outdoor entertainment space to enjoy year round

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There's nothing quite like a good backyard barbecue to send off a good year. Getting the whole family together for a good backyard grill-up is really what the summer holidays are all about.

If it's your first time playing the host, however, it can be tricky knowing just what you'll need to make sure your summer barbecue goes off with a bang. Sourcing a selection of fancy snags and sauces is really just the tip of the iceberg here.

Here are a few other things worth keeping in mind when planning your first backyard summer barbecue.

Keeping your grill well-stocked and well-organised

Whether you're having a small get-together with a few intimate friends, or a larger welcome event filled with housewarming gifts and great music, having good food is a must.

So, no matter how big or small your party is going to be, your grill station should always be kept well-organised to ensure that no food items go overcooked and burnt and that there will be plenty of active cooking space available to cater to larger groups of people.

To impress your friends by grilling like a pro, make certain that you're cooking with 4 burner gas bbqs, this will ensure that you're serving up the juiciest meat, and thanks to more cooking space, you'll be doing it in record time.

Cooked foods are best kept warm by the grill rack, out of the way of uncooked meats to minimise risks of contamination.

Be sure to also keep an eye on the number of foods on your grill rack too! If you put too many extra patties and snags on the grill before any pre-cooked ones have had a chance to be eaten, you'll find yourself with an influx of food that may end in some food waste.

It's all about maintaining a good balance between cooking and cooked food, as well as keeping track of how many more of your guests may want extra servings.

Establish a dedicated drinks station

Having a dedicated drinks area should be considered a top priority, especially in the height of summer.

You'll want to ensure you have a good selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as plenty of ice to keep your drinks nice and cool under the hot sun.

Seating is also just as important for keeping your guests comfortable, so it's well worth investing in a few bar stools for your outdoor bar set-up.

Having an array of seating options will also naturally keep your outdoor entertainment space feeling nice and varied, ensuring that your guests feel comfortable interacting with one another in a selection of different spaces.

Vegetarian options and toppings galore

Of course, organising your grill can become more complicated when catering to groups with food allergies.

What you may find surprising, however, is that taking the extra time to ensure that you have meal options for gluten-free or low-FODMAP individuals, as well as vegans or vegetarians will likely elevate the overall quality of your summer barbecue. How does this work?

A widespread of foods means that everybody has more options to choose from, ensuring that your barbecue transforms into a culinary experience in its own right.

If you're concerned about contamination between veggie patties and cooking meats, you may opt to smoke your meat in a smoker instead, or even decide to invest in a secondary grill top specifically for vegetarian and vegan options.

This same grill top could also easily be used for grilling up some onions, pineapple, and beetroot that meat-eaters can use in their meal too!

Pasta salads can also be a great option for vegetarians and low-FODMAP individuals, but can also provide guests without dietary restrictions with a wealth of other foods to choose from.

If there are any foods that are specifically for those with dietary restrictions, they can easily be accompanied by little notes, or they can be placed on their own table too.

There is a selection of ways that you can keep your barbecue inclusive! It's all about finding the methods that work for you and your outdoor barbecue space.

Outdoor lighting and insect control for evening grills

Summer evenings are best spent outdoors, enjoying the gentle breeze of the season, and listening to the chirping of crickets in the distance.

There are, of course, some caveats that come with alfresco summertime dining, namely the presence of mosquitos, flies, and other insects that may be less welcome than the crickets in the distance.

These backyard nuisances are best dealt with by investing in some mosquito coils and solar-powered bug zappers.

Pest control lights are infinitely preferable to bug sprays, especially around foods, making bug zappers an essential element of your overall outdoor dining space.

Alongside bug zappers, some ambient tea lights and gentle fairy lights may also prove to be valuable assets to your barbecue area and will inspire your guests to stick around and stay celebrating well into the evening.

Having some ambient lights will naturally also help you and your guests capture your evening on camera too. Gold fairy lights provide flattering lighting for taking candid snapshots.

Complete the day with a little backyard cricket

Last but not least, it wouldn't be an Aussie summer barbecue without a game of backyard cricket. Having a few stumps on one end of the yard is really all you need to get the games going.

Even families without yards can still use their driveways to do a little wicket hitting. Just be sure that young children are kept supervised and understand the importance of road safety when collecting stray cricket balls.

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Aussie backyard barbecues are a staple of all our summer holidays, past, present, and future. Even if our spreads have somewhat changed from being explorations into the world of pork and beef to including prawns, pineapple, pea protein patties, and corn on the cob, these outdoor shindigs are still undoubtedly an opportunity for families to come together and celebrate good food, good company, and great weather.