Advice for Club and Association BBQs

BBQ socials are a popular summer activity for associations, clubs and societies, often favoured as the best activity for get-togethers and fundraising events. The main perk of hosting a BBQ social is that it can be enjoyed by all ages and provides a great way to spend some quality time outdoors, whilst being served up some tasty food and refreshments. Another perk of hosting a BBQ social for your club or association is that it’s a great way to guarantee a full guest list, requiring only a small amount of planning and preparation for the big day.

That’s not to say that as hosts of a BBQ social you can sit back and relax, as alongside the general planning of portion sizes, menu choices and invitations, there are some considerations that you’ll need to bare in mind for health and safety purposes. These are especially important when catering for a large number of people and barbecuing around children.

1. Find an appropriate location

First and foremost, you need to find a good location to host your BBQ social. Often the most ideal choices to ensure a good attendance are near to your club or association meeting grounds. Remember that under no circumstances should your BBQ be brought inside, so you’ll need to find outdoor space that is not only large enough for hosting your event with lots of guests, but also has enough room for a large BBQ to be set up with six feet around it and a gazebo in case of a turn in the weather. This could take some planning, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from other members, and when you think you’ve found a suitable location make sure you get permission from the land-owners whether public or private - believe it or not, this can be easy to forget!

2. Planning portions

Once you’ve identified a location, you can decide on a date and send out your invitations, collecting responses (and money if fundraising) on an organised list. From your estimated list of attendees, you then need to work out how much food you’ll need to feed them! This can be a challenge, but by using our guide to how much food you’ll need, you should be able to buy just the right amount, preventing food from going to waste. You’ll also find a handy checklist to download to help you plan your BBQ from start to finish without forgetting a thing!

Remember, don’t leave shopping until the day of the BBQ as you’ll be too busy setting up your BBQ station, and ask other members to help with this or preparation of side dishes, salads and desserts where possible.

3. Setting up your BBQ station

On the morning of your BBQ social you will need to locate your BBQ in a safe place, on flat ground and away from trees, vegetation or flammable decorations. You should then use chalk, sports cones or bunting to mark a six-foot area around your BBQ, which will become your no-go zone to keep children away. You should never leave your BBQ unattended, and you should draft in some help from other adults to transfer the food from the BBQ to serving station, which should be situated away from the no-go zone. Finally, although you want the children to have a great time at your event, be aware that ball games and Frisbees can result in accidents when played around a BBQ, so put up some signs about this and warn parents before their arrival. 

4. Barbecuing food safely

When it comes to cooking the food, you’ll need to be especially conscious of food hygiene and safety rules, in additional to the dietary requirements of your guests. This includes keeping raw and cooked meat separate during the food preparation stages, and keeping any meat in a completely different part of the grill to any vegetarian dishes. The same applies to BBQ tools and crockery; keep those used for raw and cooked meats separate and away from any that are to be used by vegetarians. A food thermometer is also an essential piece of equipment for food safety purposes at club and association BBQs, to be certain that all meat dishes are cooked through. You should also keep food covered and store dishes out of direct sunlight.

5. Relax and enjoy your successful social

Hosting a BBQ social is no mean feat so make sure you draft in some help from others to leave you with time to enjoy yourself too!