The Best-Ever Backyard Party Planning Checklist

Follow this easy outdoor party checklist to make sure your next cookout goes off without a hitch.

Backyard cookouts are a staple for summer, filled with cool drinks, big laughs and plenty of delicious food that just tastes better in the backyard. Leading up to your party, space out tasks and prep food ahead of time (like these summer slow cooker recipes) so you can take it easy on the day of! And if you’re worried about putting it together, we’ve got this handy outdoor party checklist so you’ll know if you’ve got everything covered.

Download Your Printable Checklist

Bbq Party Checklist 3.2Taste of Home, Getty Images (2)

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Get the Ball Rolling (3 Weeks Before)

  • Send invitations
  • Take inventory of your tables, chairs, plates, cups, napkins and utensils

Plan Things Out (2 Weeks Before)

 Tie Up Loose Ends (1 Week Before)

  • Borrow any additional tables or chairs that you’ll need—ask friends or family members if you can borrow their extras
  • Clean the house! You don’t have to cover everything, but make sure the areas your guests will see are sparkling
  • Follow up with guests who haven’t RSVP’d

Go to the Grocery Store & Clean the Yard (3 Days Before)

  • Double-check your grocery list
  • Shop for your ingredients
  • Wash the serving dishes you’ll be using
  • Mow the lawn
  • Clean your grill from top to bottom

Prep, Prep, Prep! (1 Day Before)

  • Spot-clean the house—here’s how to tidy up fast
  • Buy a bag of extra ice
  • Make as many mains, sides and desserts ahead of schedule as you can
  • Cut up any fruit and/or vegetables
  • Put beverages in the refrigerator to chill

Set the Table (Morning Of)

  • Put serving dishes/platters on the buffet table
  • Set out plates, cups, napkins and utensils
  • Set up extra tables with tablecloths

Final Prep (2 Hours Before)

  • Prep any raw food you plan to grill
  • Begin reheating any premade hot foods
  • Stock coolers with ice and beverages

Get Ready to Eat (30 Minutes Before)

  • Set out food with corresponding labels on the buffet table
  • Preheat the grill
  • Relax!

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Lara Eucalano
Lara is a writer, editor and gardener who loves to cook almost as much as she loves to eat. She will absolutely hop on a plane in search of good food!