We all love getting together with friends and family for a summer cookout, especially for the summer holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. We plan for these occasions weeks ahead of time – making a guest list, planning the menu, and purchasing special decorations.
But you could set a table that makes Martha Stewart green with envy and still have your guests looking at their watches or phones. Why? Because for all our preparations, many of us forget the one thing vital to a memorable summer cookout.
What Are You Forgetting?
Think about it. Haven’t you had sweet, satisfying times in the past eating simple foods from paper plates? Then again, many of us have tried to choke down simple foods from paper plates and headed to McDonald’s as soon as we were out of there.
Whether you serve filet mignon on your wedding china or hot dogs on Dixie plates won’t determine the success of your cookout. What makes all the difference in the world is something the best hostess’ know but we wanna-bees are too busy obsessing over details for.
The thing that will make your summer cookout a memorable event has nothing to do with those details. Because your guests are mostly oblivious to that stuff (the grill that has rust, there’s some weeds in the lawn, or that your decorations are wilting.) What your guests want is to be noticed, engaged, and encouraged. Give them this, and they won’t mind if you serve worms on toast. Or, they’ll forgive you for it anyway.Give them this, and they won’t mind if you serve worms on toast. Or, they’ll forgive you for it. Click To Tweet
The Memorable Summer Cookout
The truth is, people are self-focused. You are. I am. It’s human nature. An excellent hostess simply lets this fact guide her efforts. She makes her guests and their needs her priority – not her spotless house, her catered-quality food, or her Pinterest-cute decorations.
So a good hostess plans and prepares the best she can. If you want to be Fancy Nancy, fine. But as soon as the first guest hits the threshold of her door, all that stuff comes second. It is what it is. It’s time to shift your focus to making your guests feel welcomed, comfortable, and important to you. Here are some tips to help you.
- Enlist your family in cleaning up the house before guests arrive.
- Have as much meal prep done beforehand as is reasonably possible.
- Have background music. It’s relaxing even if it’s danceable.
- Introduce guests to each other.
- You can’t be with everyone all the time, but be with someone all the time.
- Let people help if they offer. People like to be needed and introverts thrive with tasks.
- Keep your eyes on the lookout for “loners”. Bring them into a conversation group.
- Have yard games available and promise your husband sexual favors if he’ll get a game going.
- Make it your goal to learn at least one new thing about each guest. Be genuinely interested.
The secret is to gain and maintain the perspective that your get-together is not about you. Make your guests the focus of your attention and they’ll remember the fabulous time they had at your summer cookout.