Music at your party?
Yes, you should have some. Not so loud it’s distracting, but enough to make it feel like a party. Set the volume to be loud enough that folks can hear it and recognize the songs the already know, but not loud enough that anyone has to speak up to overcome it.
We recommend setting up the music away from the grill, just to avoid any potential damage from heat or smoke to your gear. Find a spot in a corner, near the drinks, perhaps. These days, the easiest route is a Bluetooth speaker playing tunes from your smartphone, tablet, or nearby computer.
We used a Jawbone Jambox, which was plenty loud for our space, but there are several Bluetooth speaker options out there, many under $40. Just find one that uses a rechargeable battery, so you don’t have to deal with any power supplies or extension cords. For tunes, we made a custom playlist through Spotify featuring lots of 60s and 70s R&B (think Motown and Stax records) and then fading into some moody electronic pop as the night wore on. Here are a few free playlists to help give your gathering some energy.
What we love about our friends at ManMadeDIY's All-Out Barbecue Hosting Guide - is their tips work for almost every occasion. We took this section on Apps & Starters - perfect pairings for your after work #WineWednesday gathering!
Apps and Starters
Be sure to check out how to create your own quick and easy Wine Charms HERE!
I love eating and hanging out outside because of the movement that happens when you interact in an open space. Folks get up often, get refills, grab a snack, check out what’s going on at the grill, etc. Which is great for atmosphere, but it means people often lose their spot, their plate, and set down their drinks all over the place.
Anyone who’s ever shared a bottle of wine has done the “which glass is mine?” dance with a stranger; it just comes along with territory. And they make things to help sort that out: they’re called wine charms, and they’re little wire and bead things that attach to the stem of the glass and they’re horrible and ugly and something no man should use at his party.
But, you know what else attaches to wine glasses? Tape. Particularly, masking tape that you can write on. You already have some in your desk or some blue painters tape from your toolbox. Just place a roll and big black marker next to the wine glasses, and folks will get the idea. Attach it to the stem of the glass to avoid losing tackiness with condensation from chilled white wine. You could even set a few up ahead of time. No jewelry necessary.
Oh, and this also helps having to avoid asking that person you just met what their name is again. Just glance at their wine glass. Done.
The point of a cookout is to gather, visit and meet new people, and, of course, eat and drink. But it’s always nice to have a general focal point or conversation starter to keep things moving throughout the night, and give folks a way to interact once the trips to the food table have slowed down.
Our vote: go for the outdoor movie. It’s reminiscent of a trip to the drive-in, or a movies in the park on a picnic blanket. Digital projectors are easy to rent, and have become increasingly affordable to buy. Just get one with an HDMI in port, and plug in your DVD player, Apple TV or Roku box, or laptop. Someone you know probably has one of these. We picked up this one from ViewSonic online. It’s an affordable option that’s plenty bright, and all the tech review sites give it the thumbs up. We’ll keep using it for many ManMade projects and outdoor movie nights to come.
See more Barbecue party fun from our friends at ManMadeDIY!
Here’s the thing - you don’t actually have to watch the movie. It’s really background entertainment. It’s more about giving movement to the space. It gives people something to chat about. And having a flickering screen brings a special something to the party, like visuals at a concert, or the TVs set to low at your local pub. And because no one has to watch, it’s a great chance to throw on a movie filled with scenes and set pieces that everyone knows well … those comfort food movies that you can’t help but watch on a rainy day. You could even make a YouTube playlist of some iconic music videos. Here’s a list of recommended films that will work for any party:
Once the film has served its purpose, use the projector and screen combo to do something interactive: play some video games. It’s a great way to get folks that don’t know each other to connect, and, if you choose the game wisely, create a opportunity for anyone to participate.
Of course, you’ll need a screen on which to project your images. Here’s how to make an easy DIY option that you can hang anywhere:
From our friends at ManMadeDIY:
To come up with the ultimate backyard barbecue wine party, we partnered with Murphy-Goode, a Sonoma County winery that’s dedicated to creating great wines that are at home with food on the grill and music playing in the background … no fussy cheese pairings need apply. They’re all about living “The Goode Life,” and that’s exactly the ManMade commitment to outdoor entertaining.
We asked them which wines would work best with barbecue and grilled foods, and they suggested:
So, we went with the Liar’s Dice Zinfandel from Murphy-Goode’s Sonoma Country Collection, and The Fumé Sauvignon Blanc, Murphy-Goode’s flagship white. Each wine is agreeable and friendly (but definitely not weak) and still full of personality. Here’s a better description of each:
How much wine? A bottle of wine contains four generous glasses. Those are restaurant glasses, where folks pay per pour. But when there are many full bottles available and open refills, your guests will give themselves a much lighter glass. Which is a good thing for the wine, because the more space in the glass, the better the aroma is conveyed, and the more you can experience it.
Plan for a bottle of wine for every two people you’re expecting, and then grab one more of each, just in case.
Have Enough Wine Glasses: Gathering enough wine glasses for a large group can be tricky. We’ve suggested asking guests to bring their own and using simple masking tape to identify them, but if you need more than your current selection, it’s time to buy in bulk.
Look for affordable glasses that come in sturdy, divided boxes, and then make sure to keep the packaging for storage. These will be your party glasses, so you don’t have to find a place for them in the kitchen cabinet. Get some thicker glasses that can stand a round in the dishwasher, and store them in the box for gatherings.
Our favorite source for sturdy glasses in bulk is the restaurant supply store, most of which sell to the public. These glasses are affordable yet designed to be used over and over again, so they stand up to the task and come perfectly clean. There are also some great options at IKEA- buy a case and keep the box -or online.
Serving Wine: Allowing your guests to serve themselves cuts back on your responsibilities. But be a good guy and walk around offering refills once or twice. Which, by the way, will be super easy, because you know exactly what everyone is drinking.
A couple of tips on enjoying your wine:
You know what I hate? Facebook invites. E-vites. Meeting requests. Nothing makes a party sound like an interminable staff meeting like an appointment with a 30-minute reminder on your Google Calendar. Stop it.
The ManMade recommendation? Don’t do it. Digital invites are confusing, often require special account creation, and usually make the guest list and RSVPs public. Facebook events are designed for your college roommate’s DJ nights, not for actually reaching out to your friends. I have seriously never attended a real-life event I got invited to by Facebook alone, and I doubt you have either.
Do you need custom letter-printed paper invitations with a handwritten note? Naaaarp.
Just call them. Don’t email. Don’t text. Don’t use some third party thing. Just call your friends on the telephone, and speak directly to the folks you wanna hang out with. If you’re nervous about it, just read this script:
"Hey, I’m hosting a barbecue at my house in a few weeks and I wanted to see if you’re free that evening cause I’d really love for you to be there."
Tell them the date, and then, after you discuss, let them know that you’ll follow up by text or email so they have the details, your address, and the start time for reference later.
Let Your Guests Bring Stuff If They Ask
Don’t be a hero and do everything yourself, but don’t compromise the vibe you’re going for, either. If someone asks if they can bring something, say yes. And use the opportunity to allow your friends to help provide the things you don’t own enough of. Don’t have 20 chairs? Tell your friends to bring one for each person that arrives in their group. Most of us don’t have enough wine glasses to host a large group, so tell your guests to bring one for themselves, or a set of four, and you’ll wash them and give it back to them before they leave. And if someone texts you on the way and says, “hey - can I pick anything up on my way over?” the answer is always: Yes. Grab a bag of ice.
Unless it’s a pot-luck, I avoid asking people to bring food. It’s usually annoying (for them), and probably won’t go with the menu you have planned out (we’ll talk about that later).
This year we partnered with our friends at ManMadeDIY to bring you the very best ideas for hosting an All-Out Barbecue Party. Hope you enjoy these amazing tips on food, wine, entertaining, and more!
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