It’s time to fire up the grill and invite your friends and neighbors over for a summer cookout! If you want your cookout to stand out from the rest, you’ll need some fresh ideas. I mean, mason jar lanterns are SO 2015, right? So we’ve picked out the best ways to utterly slay your family’s barbecue this summer.
Water Water Everywhere
Here’s what you know for sure about your next cookout: it’s gonna be hot. So you’ll need smart ways to cool off. Since my kids are older now, I decided last year to try this DIY slip-n-slide for grown ups and it was a massive hit! Water balloons are of course a hit with the little ones, but can be quite messy—so try this hilarious water balloon “Piñata” instead! I love it because it eliminates friendly fire (hey, if you’re wearing a white shirt at the cookout you do NOT want a water balloon to the chest, my friend) and keeps the balloon mess in one area for easy clean up.
Dress Up Your Hot Dogs With A Fancy Toppings Bar
It doesn’t take much to take hot dogs up a notch. But not everyone is going to go for that Thai-style dog with the peanut sauce and slaw, so make sure you have a variety. I am a sucker for all things avocado so guac on a dog works for me, and if you add some black beans and corn you’ve got a perfect Mexican-style hot dog. But my new favorite is the buffalo dog—just add blue cheese crumbles, buffalo sauce, and some celery slices and you are GOLDEN. Best of all? Now that every single one of Oscar Mayer hot dogs have been radically changed — made with no artificial preservatives in their meat and absolutely no by-products — you can have the world’s best hot dog at the heart of these recipes.
Break Out The Bubbles
Bubbles are one of the most universal symbols of happiness out there. Seriously, are you ever happier than when you’re blowing bubbles? While we used to settle for either store-bought or crappy homemade bubble solution, today there are much better recipes for making long-lasting bubbles that will dazzle. You can have a contest to see who can make the biggest or longest-lasting bubbles, or my personal favorite, use a kiddie pool and a hula hoop to make bubbles you can actually stand inside! Super fun and will add a fun, whimsical air to your cookout.
Outdoor Movie Screenings
After a few hours of hosting, you’ll want to stop running around and enjoy a great cocktail or a cold brew. This means you need to entertain the kids. A great way to do this is by screening a kid-friendly movie outside. You can be as fancy or as DIY about it as you like—you just need a light-colored or white surface to project on and a projector (I tried my hand at this homemade version and it worked for less that $10!). One quick tip: if you use fabric, make sure it’s tacked down well or it will sway with every breeze (ask me how I know). And when the kids get hungry? A hot dog and popcorn “cart” with Oscar Mayer hot dogs already grilled and on buns with ketchup/mustard handy and already-popped popcorn in bags (I love just filling up regular paper lunch bags, but I use the white ones). I used a wheelbarrow with some fabric in the bottom as my cart and just parked it by the kids, easy as pie!
The Lazy Cookout
Look, not all of us have the energy to set up elaborate things for a cookout—and it’s all too easy to feel so overwhelmed you just skip it entirely. But you can throw a fast and easy cookout by making it a potluck style event. We did this last year and told everyone there would be zero decorations or flash and all we’d serve was burgers and hot dogs—guests were then free to bring whatever they wanted (tip: always invite that one friend who makes the world’s best deviled eggs). The invite literally said “Lazy Cookout” and our friends LOVED the easy and relaxed feel of this neighborhood gathering so much we’re making it a monthly tradition this summer.
So there you have it! Time to bust out the grill and get barbecuing!
Oscar Mayer is changing every hot dog for the better. Now you can enjoy the great taste you’ve always loved, with no artificial preservatives in all their meat. Why? For the love of hot dogs.