How To Be a Great Host:
This is the season for summer BBQ’s and Company Picnics. When I hosted a BBQ for July 4th, I realized there are a lot of pitfalls that can occur at these events – both for the hosts and the guests! I found myself eaten up with mosquito bites and flinging my tomato across the table as I was removing the meat off my kebab skewer! These etiquette tips will make your next event more successful and more fun!
Keep The Bugs Away – The scent of citronella oil has been used for over 50 years to repel insects. Bamboo or metal torches are a great option as they can be filled with the oil and they look good too. Candle options will also work, but be careful that the flame burn off is not too close to where your guests are eating.
Provide Comfortable and Clean Seating – If you are having 15 guests, you need 15 places to sit. Also, make sure your chairs are clean. Yes hosts, this means your patio furniture should be washed or wiped down the morning of your event and towel dried. It is best to have table space available for each guest as it is difficult to eat BBQ foods off your lap.
Ensure Proper Sun Protection – Not everyone enjoys sitting in the sun, especially if it is a hot day. Plan ahead and provide appropriate sun coverage with umbrellas or make sure your seating can be moved into a shady area.
Hydrate Your Guests and Your Pets – It is important to offer non-alcoholic options in addition to your alcoholic selections. Beer, wine, and a specialty cocktail will create a perfect variety of liquor options. For non-alcoholic options, offer sodas, flavored waters, and cold H2O. Make water readily available to make sure no one gets dehydrated. Pet Tip: Freeze 3/4 c. water and 1/4 c. chicken bouillon in small plastic containers (I use 8 oz. empty yogurt containers), add in a few tasty treats and a chopped carrot, and freeze. Pop out these fun, tasty, and cooling treats for your favorite pups.
Provide Sturdy Plates and Utensils – You are serving heavy food items, you need sturdy plates and strong utensils. Flimsy paper plates will create a mess for both you and your guests. Invest in the heavy plastic plates or go to a restaurant supply house where you can buy dinner plates at a great price. Party City offers several great utensil options that will stand up to your heartiest food options.
Ask About Food Allergies and Preferences – Prevent an embarrassing BBQ faux pas by asking guests ahead of time if they have any specific eating needs. Imagine a vegetarian only having lettuce on their plate while everyone else has a full plate of goodies!
How To Eat Those Tricky Foods:
At a BBQ event, many TRICKY FOODS are served. For instance, corn-on-the-cob would typically never be seen at a formal dining event. The good news is that there is more flexibility in a BBQ or picnic setting. Note, “more flexibility” means the majority of your etiquette rules are still to be practiced.
Asparagus – When served at a formal meal, asparagus is eaten with a knife and fork. At a more casual meal, if the spears are firm and are served without a sauce, it is permissible to eat them with your fingers. When in doubt use your knife and fork.
Chicken – At a formal dinner, all portions should be eaten with a knife and fork. At a BBQ or less formal meal, you may eat the parts with bones (such as wings or drumsticks) with your fingers after the meatier portions have been cut off and eaten with a knife and fork.
Kebabs – If a kebab is passed as an appetizer, you can eat the food while holding the skewer. If it is served on a plate, you should first use a fork to slide the food off the skewer onto your plate. Hold the skewer at an angle against your plate; use your fork to push the bottom two pieces off. Repeat this until all the pieces are on your plate. If the pieces are sticking to the skewer, twisting the skewer will loosen up the pieces. Now you are ready to enjoy and eat with your knife and fork.
Olives – When served as an appetizer, olives may be eaten with your fingers. What do you do with the pit? Anything that needs to be removed from the mouth should typically exit the way it came in. Take the pit and place it in your napkin or place it on your plate in a discrete position.
Shrimp – When shrimp is served with the tail attached, you may hold the tail and eat it with your fingers. If the shrimp is served on a toothpick, you may eat it directly from the toothpick, using the pick as your utensil. For shrimp cocktail served with dinner, you should use the seafood fork to dip the shrimp into the cocktail sauce to eat it. When it is served as an appetizer, you can use your fingers to hold the tail and dip into the cocktail sauce.
Enjoy these etiquette tips and all your outdoor summer dining experiences this summer! “Remember, good manners turn into good business and great relationships.”