12 Creative BBQ Party Ideas for the Summer

Kick the summer season off with a fun and memorable BBQ party with family and friends! Hosting a BBQ is always a fun time, serving as the perfect excuse to throw an outdoor party. Whether you’re in the mood to plan a memorable super bowl party or need block party ideas for a larger-than-life cookout, gathering creative and fun BBQ party ideas will help you throw the best BBQ of the year! Use these BBQ party ideas to set the standard for summer.

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How to Plan Barbecue Parties

Making sure a BBQ party runs smoothly and keeps guests happy and relaxed all comes down to the planning. Look to the guide below for how to plan your ultimate BBQ party.

BBQ party invite for a summer party

  1. Pick a party theme. Picking the perfect BBQ party theme is an important first step. It decides you invites, decorations, and overall food choices. For inspiration, look to our theme ideas in the next section.
  2. Decide on a date and location. Deciding on the date and location early is important, as this helps you avoid future headaches. It’s also key to include this information in your party invitations.
  3. Make a guest list. Once you have your list of friends and family, make sure you send out invitations in plenty of time.
  4. Send out party invites. Make sure to send out any party invitations you’re planning on sending at least three weeks in advance. And if you want help writing your invites, you can visit our resource on party invitation wording.
  5. Pick out decorations. Find your decorations at least a week in advance. Waiting last minute will only cause you stress.
  6. Set up a day in advance. This way you’ll have time to deal with any last minute things that may come up.
  7. Enjoy!

BBQ Party Themes and Ideas

Choose a theme for your BBQ party idea to set your party plans in motion. Your food and decorations should all be on one page if you want to craft a full-fledged experience for family and friends. Avoid simply BBQ party mistakes by staying true to one theme and ultimately making it your own. These themes are fun, memorable, and easy to execute.

1. Traditional Country BBQ Party

Host a classic and traditional country BBQ this summer! These BBQs never disappoint and you can put your own twist on this classic theme by taking traditional décor and making it your own. When planning your party’s design, stick to picnic-inspired décor such as checkered tablecloths, mason jars, daisy flowers, basket centerpieces, and lanterns. You can also set up small areas around your backyard party area or a park with comfy pillows and blankets to add a warm touch.

The best part of a country BBQ is simply the delicious food. Staple BBQ foods such as burgers, hot dogs, hot links, chicken, potato salad, macaroni salad, and corn on the cob are a must. However, this year you can sweeten things up by offering guests a decadent ice cream bar with some of their favorite old fashioned ice cream treats, embellished ice cream cones, and an array of toppings. Adults and kids won’t be able to stay away. Your BBQ party invitations should have a grill on the front or picnic-inspired graphics to set the tone.

Young people in the park having fun at barbecue party

2. Western BBQ Party

Plan a good ol’ Western BBQ party to spice things up and introduce your guests to what they’ve been missing out on. This theme is inspired by Texas BBQ, which means you can really try your hand at more slow-cooked meats such as brisket. Give your traditional hamburgers and hot dogs a flair by using apple or hickory BBQ smoking chips to add some flavor to your grill. After deciding on a menu, you can then create a special table filled with different flavors of BBQ sauce to give your food a kick.

When it comes to decorations, you can turn your summer soiree into a Western party by incorporating easy Western signs, hay, cactus plants, and barn-like décor to finalize your party set-up. Take your party over the top by building a custom ‘Watering Hole’ bar with traditional drinks such as Texas Tea. Your Western party invitation should have colors such as red, brown, or beige to match your theme. Lastly, greet guests with complimentary cowboy hats and bandanas as they walk in the door to make everyone feel welcomed.

3. By The Sea Party

Throwing a BBQ party over the summer doesn’t mean that you have to stick to red meat or chicken. Tap into your seafood side with a ‘By The Sea’ grill party, featuring some of your favorites such as grilled shrimp, scallops, salmon, seafood skewers and kabobs, or grilled halibut. You can also grill corn and cook an array of pastas to complement your off the grid theme, blowing your guests away with recipes like lobster mac n’ cheese or seafood linguine. Decorations for this theme should make guests feel like they’re at the beach. Add sand and seashells to your bar area and use plenty of sea blue decor to craft an airy and breezy atmosphere. Play island-inspired music and whip up a Mai Tai to cool guests off. Give guests a glimpse of what’s to come with a lovely blue party invitation.

4. Backyard BBQ Dinner Party

If you’re looking to create an intimate and elegant atmosphere for your guests, you can opt for a fun backyard dinner party in the early evening! You can send out stylish dinner party invitations and use the color palette from your invite to design your entire celebration. Keep your menu simple for a small BBQ dinner party by choosing only two meats to grill, such as salmon and steak. The main focuses of an outdoor dinner party are always the tablescape and backyard decorations. A coordinated and charming tablescape along with ambient decorations that complement one another will leave guests in awe.

When it comes to your table set-up, use a long table and wooden benches to add a rustic picnic vibe to your summer dinner party. Once you finish grilling all of the food ahead of time, you can then use holiday lights, fresh flowers, candles, linen tablecloths, table runners, and beautiful custom glassware to set the mood outside. Add a designated bar area with two to three special cocktails, along with a refreshing water bar, to take this party to the next level.

A group of young adults are having a party outdoor

5. Labour Day Party

Labour Day parties typically occur during the end of summer where guests traditionally dress in all white which makes this the perfect theme for your barbecue party! This is one of very few themes in which guests get to shop in advance for an all-white outfit and feel like they’re a core part of your plans. Your decorations for this party should follow the theme’s main color exactly, with plenty of white tablecloths, flowers, white paper lanterns, and white furniture. You can give your party an edge by using succulents as décor and seasonal greenery throughout your tablescapes. Stick to traditional BBQ such as hamburgers and hot dogs since most guests will be on a mission to keep their white outfits clean. Prepare an all-white candy buffet and let guests fill their party favor bag before they leave.

6. Beer & BBQ Tasting Party

Few things go together like beer and BBQ, making a beer tasting party an ultimate BBQ theme. Stock up with plenty of your favorite brew or compile a selection of different craft beers to taste through the party (and don’t forget the barware and glassware). Include rating cards for guests to pick their favorite and plenty of beer-friendly snacks to complement the drink menu. Whether your feature BBQ menu is full of ribs, burgers, or skewers, you’re sure to have plenty of drinks to pair with.

7. Outdoor Movie Marathon BBQ

Looking to spend a relaxing night with friends and family watching your favorite flicks? If so, consider throwing an outdoor movie marathon with a BBQ menu. With a list of the best movies and your favorite foods, you’re sure to have a fun night under the stars. Decorations may include movie posters, movie theatre popcorn bags, and candy boxes. Complete the night with your favorite brand of hot dogs and a game or movie trivia.

8. Farm to Table Spread

Host a Barbecue with a healthy, sustainable twist! Feature meats and cheeses sourced from local farms and ranches. Include veggies, fruits, and herbs from your own garden. Feel free to ask guests to bring food from their own gardens and make the cookout potluck style. This guilt free BBQ isn’t just got for you, it’s also a great opportunity to teach your kids about sustainable food and healthy meal choices.

9. Twine and Twigs

A “Twine & Twigs” theme means including plenty of rustic decor in your family-style BBQ. Tie plaid table napkins and candles with twine for a homespun feel. Consider summer wreaths made of twigs and bonfire piles or sparklers to help tie the whole theme together. Not only will it be a picture perfect party, but guests are sure to talk about it for years to come.

A group of family and friends holding sparklers

10. S’mores Camping Party

BBQ’s are the perfect opportunity to enjoy other summer favorites: S’mores and campfires. Plan your BBQ later in the evening at a location safe for a fire pits. After the BBQ main course is over, bring out the s’more supplies and invite everyone to sit fireside. Between the fireside chats and tasty treats, no one will want to leave the party.

11. Lawn Games Party

Whether you’re a fan of bocce ball or croquet, including a set of lawn games at your BBQ is sure to keep everyone entertained. You’ll want a location with a big yard and plenty of outdoor lighting in case the game last well until dark. Fun lawn games may include horseshoes, ladder toss, cornhole, ultimate frisbee, badminton, or spikeball. Just make sure there’s plenty of food and drinks to keep guests going until the end.

friends having summer barbecue party in the backyard with grill and table full of delicious food

12. Old Time Soda Fountain Theme

Make your party a blast from the past by including plenty of old fashioned themed decor. Include a retro “soda fountain” full of glass bottle sodas and old labels. Use 50’s era plating and cups, and ask everyone to come in 50’s costume. This theme will make for great photos and gives you an excuse to dig up old family recipes to add to the BBQ menu.

Resources Related to BBQ Party Ideas

Whichever theme you choose, be sure to plan ahead since BBQ parties typically require a lot of day-of cooking and grilling. Barbecues are perfect for celebrating summer holidays, birthdays, baby showers, and graduations. Use the lovely summer weather as an opportunity to throw the best BBQ of the year. And if you’re looking for additional related resources to BBQ party ideas, look to the content below: