How to Host a Backyard Bash That’ll Be the Talk of the Neighborhood

Need backyard party ideas for your casual shindig? We'll show you how to host your friends and neighbors with stress-free dishes and fun takes on grilling classics.

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When it comes to summertime shindigs, we love a good pool party or tailgate at the baseball game. But what we love most of all is a casual, stress-free party right in your own backyard. Just fire up the grill, call up your besties and let the fun begin. Want more backyard party ideas? We’ll walk you through how to host the best backyard bash yet. You can start with these must-have recipes:

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Start with a Simple Menu

For a casual backyard get-together, there’s no need to overcomplicate your menu. All you have to do is start with the basics: burgers and hot dogs (or any variation thereof). Once you’ve perfected your burger making and grilling technique, you can let your guests take care of the rest with an assortment of toppings that let them customize their burger. Here are some burger ideas to start with:

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And you can have plenty of fun with hot dogs, too. Our favorite way to jazz them up is with regionally-inspired toppings. It’s a fun way for folks to share a bit about where they’re from and show off their creative side. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Chicago: yellow mustard, white onion, pickle relish, pickle spear, tomato, sport peppers, celery salt
  • Detroit: Coney sauce, mustard onion
  • Kansas City: cheese, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, thousand island dressing
  • Philadelphia: Cheez Whiz, sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms
  • Nashville: Chicken hot dog, hot sauce, cayenne, mayo, sliced pickles
  • Los Angeles: bacon, grilled onions, jalapenos, salsa
  • Milwaukee: cheese curds, beer mustard, Cheez Whiz
  • New Jersey: peppers, onions, grilled potatoes
  • Seattle: cream cheese, cheddar, onion, jalapeno
  • Tucson: Wrapped in bacon, topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, diced raw onion, avocado, mayo, jalapenos; piled on a bolillo roll

Summer-Ready Sides and Sips for Backyard Entertaining

As for the side dishes and desserts for your party, ask your friends, family and neighbors to bring a dish to pass. Everyone has a go-to summer potluck recipe or two that they’d love to share. And if you don’t feel like turning on the oven on a summer day, try these icebox desserts that are always smash hits.

When it comes to backyard sips, there’s no shame in stocking up on the classics, like a good craft beer (here’s the best from each state). You can also whip up a big batch of one of these non-alcoholic drinks—they’re sure to please all kinds of partygoers.

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Keep the Fun Going with Backyard Games

Before you light the grill or breakout the icebox cake, keep your company entertained with some fun yard games. A little friendly competition will get friends and neighbors chatting, giving you all the time you need to grill up those perfect burgers.

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Don’t Forget the Extra Touches

Burgers? Check. Buns? Check. Games? Double-check. Once you have the basics on hand for your casual backyard party, it can be easy to call your party planning done. But don’t forget those extra touches that will make your guests more comfortable. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you prep for your soiree:

  • Have sunblock on hand. One application isn’t enough for a full day of fun. Keep a bottle or two of sunblock ready for guests to reapply.
  • Set up all your seating. Pull out all your lawn chairs and dust off the patio set. Sure, a backyard bash might be a casual affair, but make sure folks have somewhere to rest after a few rounds of croquet. If needed, have your neighbors bring a chair or two.
  • Have some shade. If you plan on being outside all day in the sun, be sure to have some shady spots for folks that need a break from the heat. Pop open that patio umbrella and even invest in a few handheld fans.
  • Get more ice. Is it just us or can you never have enough ice at a party? Grab an extra bag before the party begins to keep the coolers full and the drinks chilled.
  • Send them home with a treat. Everyone likes something to take home. Grab some eco-friendly to-go boxes for friends to take home leftovers. You can even have some cookies prepped for party favors, too.

Discover More American Summer Party Guides:

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.