A group of friends enjoying the perfect cookout party.

The Secret to Planning the Perfect Cookout

Burgers. Hot dogs. Beers.

Now that sounds great doesn’t it? That’s because cookouts ARE great. Cookouts can be a man’s best friend because they are so simple to do right and rewarding. So call your buddies and start your list. Here’s what you need for the ultimate cookout:

Get the Right Grub

Food is the name of the game. It’s important to bring plenty of food, obviously. Get your buddies to pitch in some cash before you go shopping so you can grab plenty to eat. Burgers and hot dogs are the obvious choice for this and nine times out of ten will do the trick for a group of guys, so stock up. Don’t be afraid to cook too much. Worst case scenario: you have awesome left-overs. Grab a couple of sides as well, or ask your guests to bring their own. Chips and some sort of dip are another obvious item that your guests will enjoy, but there are tons of sides that compliment grill-cooked food. Crowd favorites include coleslaw or potatoes (mashed or in French-fry form).

Quench Everyone’s Thirst

Another no-brainer: have a lot of refreshments. Whether it’s your fridge or cooler, prepare to have it stocked. This is something else you should have your friends to help you with. Ask everyone to bring something to drink and, when they show up, have space cleared for them to store it. It’s always a good idea to keep a big cooler in the yard with you. That way your guests won’t have to run in and out of the house. Just remember the cups and ice!

Entertain the Masses

Have some entertainment to fill time between drinking and eating. Guys are easy to entertain, especially when there’s food around, so this one is simple. Music is a good place to start, so an iPod dock or a set of speakers to play music through is a must. If it’s something your friends would enjoy, invest in the setup materials for a simple and enjoyable backyard game. You can’t go wrong with horseshoes or a bean bag toss. A fire is a less-common, but fun alternative, and it even takes some of the pressure off of you as grill-master. A fire will keep guests entertained and allow them to make their own hot dogs or s’mores.

So, call your friends. Set a date. Commence shopping. Stick to these simple tenants and your cookout will be a smashing success.