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Cookout Party Ideas Your Guests Will Love

I love a good cookout. Give me a Ball Park® frank, a pile of Frito Lay® chips and an ice cold Pepsi®, and I’m one happy gal. I also love hosting cookouts, which looks very different from merely attending one. If you’re the host, you have to consider everything from decor to food all the way to the weather and timing. And, not to mention, a basic barbecue is pretty been-there-done-that, and the pressure is on to have a Pinterest-perfect affair. *Sigh*

Fear not! I’m here to share some of my realistic, budget-friendly ideas for your next summer cookout that your guests will not only love but that they’ll probably copy for their own cookout. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?

DIY Kebabs

Kebabs are such an easy way to feed a crowd—and DIY kebabs are the perfect way to make sure everyone is eating something they like. Set out an assortment of meats, veggies, skewers, and sauces and let people assemble their own kebabs. Throw them on the grill, and voila!

Outdoor Lights

My backyard has an abundance of pretty trees, and we love to make the most of them! If your backyard has trees, wrap the trunk with some string lights for an extra festive feel! It’ll also add some extra light without attracting too many bugs and mosquitoes…and will look really cute in pictures. If you don’t have trees, you can wrap the lights around your patio, door frames, or fencing.

Frozen Fruit

This might be one of my favorite party ideas ever. Buy a bunch of frozen fruit or freeze fruit you already have, and use it as ice in cups of water or lemonade! It adds a fun color to your drinks and adds a hint of fruit flavor! I usually use blueberries and strawberries and top it off with a lemon slice.

Spice It Up

This is a hack that goes back to my childhood. Before we’d go to the drive-in movie theater, we would pop our own popcorn at home and put it in brown paper lunch bags with seasonings like lime salt, garlic salt, or paprika (shoutout to my mom and dad for the best childhood ever). For your barbecue, grab a big bag of classic Lays® potato chips and fill up brown paper lunch bags about halfway, folding down the top half. Put out some of your favorite household seasonings like chili powder, salt, cheddar cheese powder, cumin or ranch dressing powder. Get creative!

Pineapple Vase

I couldn’t be happier that the pineapple is such a trendy item right now. With that in mind, I’m all about finding fun ways to use pineapple this summer—including for a fun centerpiece! Cut the top off of a fresh pineapple so you can core out the inside, leaving the body intact like a vase. Once it’s cored, fill it with water and put some fresh flowers inside.

A Glowing Cooler

Okay, I mainly included this tip as an excuse to use glow sticks. So what? If your cookout is going into the night, you want to make sure your guests have plenty of light! Throw some fun colored glow sticks into your cooler so it lights up the drinks! Honestly, I just feel like this idea would take any barbecue to the next level.

The Essentials

This idea is more practical than Insta-worthy, but your guests will love it nonetheless! Set out a cute storage bin that has sunscreen, bug spray, and hand sanitizer so people have a quick fix! They’ll seriously appreciate it (and the fact that they won’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes).

Blanket Station

Few things are worse than being caught at an outdoor event where come sundown, you’re nearly freezing (I’m also notorious for not dressing for the right weather, sooo…). Put out a basket or a table with some extra throw blankets so people can snuggle up if it gets chilly!

See? Getting a Pinterest-perfect party doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg! Honestly just writing this has me so excited to throw our first cookout of the season, and for all of the cookouts after that.