Do you cover up the grill after Labor Day and leave it closed until the following May? If so, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest joys — fall barbequing!

Fall barbeques rock because cooler temperatures make outdoor fun more enjoyable (and less sweaty). Plus, if the wind kicks up you can take the fun indoors!

Want to know how to host the perfect bash before the first snowfall? Read on.

1. Decide on a Venue

If you own a big yard, picking a venue is pretty easy. But if you’re an urban apartment dweller, you need to do more legwork.

Fall weather can prove unpredictable in regions like the northeast. If you decide to host your fall barbeque at a park, select one with pavilions in case of rain. Ideally, locate one with parking near the barbeque area so your guests won’t have far to flee if the weather takes a turn.

2. Plan Out Your Serving Style

Fall Barbeque

Usually, people run barbeques buffet style, but insects will still make an appearance on warm fall days. If you opt for buffet-style dining, make sure to invest in covers for dishes to keep pests at bay.

If you’re traveling to a park, keep raw meat in the cooler until you’re ready to grill it to prevent food poisoning. If you’re doing a combination indoor/outdoor barbeque, you can set up a more formal place setting and bring in entrees as they cook.

3. Build a Seasonal Playlist

Create a playlist designed to go for at least 5 hours to keep your guests entertained. Create a mix of old and new hits to please guests of all age ranges. Ask your guests what artists they enjoy and include some of their favorite jams, too.

4. Gather Indoor and Outdoor Games

Part of the fun of a barbeque is playing volleyball or cornhole. Gather up your games and include something suitable for relaxing table play as well. This helps guests who find moving around uncomfortable due to physical disabilities feel included in the fun.

5. Pick Out Your Decorations

Fall Barbeque

You can go crazy with fall barbeque decor! Line the center of your picnic or patio table with pumpkins and gourds. You can even host a carving contest at your barbeque after you’re done eating.

6. Plan Your Menu

Just because you’re having an autumn cookout doesn’t mean you have to make everything pumpkin spice. Try a grilled pork tenderloin in charred-chile adobo or seared cauliflower steaks if you have vegan friends.

7. Select Sensational Sides

Sure, you could pick up some store-bought potato crisps and salad, but where’s the creativity in that? Gotta have your pumpkin everything in the fall? Try smoking a pumpkin on the grill. The smoke adds a nice tang to the sweetness. Butternut squash and carrots also contain beta carotene for eye health and grill up marvelously.

8. Or Do a Potluck

Fall Barbeque

Why do all the heavy lifting yourself? You can invite barbeque guests to bring along their favorite side dish, potluck-style. That way, if any guests have dietary restrictions such as celiac disease, they can make sure no cross-contamination occurs during preparation.

Bonus tip! Ask your guests beforehand about dietary restrictions. You could include a section to indicate this on your RSVP card (if you go formal with the invites). Otherwise, simply ask guests if they have any allergies, and avoid serving dishes containing them.

Alternately, let guests with allergies serve themselves first to minimize the possibility of “safe” food getting contaminated by spoons used for more than one dish, etc.

9. Remember Some Tasty Fall Beverages

What goes better with barbeques than a punch bowl to keep drinks flowing? A fall punch bowl – that’s what!

Hosting your barbie on a chilly day? Warm up your guests’ bellies with bourbon maple chai punch or something more traditional. Offer one red and one white wine as well, and have guests bring their beer.

Remember, some guests may prefer to abstain from drinking, either because they’re serving as the designated driver or simply watching their consumption. Offer a mocktail-style punch so guests feel the elegance of glass in hand minus the hard stuff.

10. Relax and Enjoy!

Finally, once the grilling’s done, relax and mingle with your guests. The best part about barbeques is they minimize clean up, so you have more time to unwind with those you care about.

Barbeques Aren’t Just a Summertime Occasion

Who says you have to restrict barbeque fun to the summer months? By following the tips above, you can throw your most successful barbeque yet!

Fall Barbeque