The winter chill has just started to set in it’s time to get the barbecue’s out. For most of us, winter barbecues are the perfect way to breathe new life into the jaded party routine. However, a little bit of planning can go a long way when it comes to hosting the perfect barbecue. This winter, take heed and up the barbecue quotient.

Select a theme

Choosing a theme is not just about kiddy parties anymore. Themes help narrow the food options and make planning the food menu even easier. Plus you can also use this as an excuse to liven up the décor to suit your convenience (think colourful paper plates and cups which mean no additional cleaning up). For an evening barbecue, think citronella candles (great to even keep mosquitoes away) and charming Christmas lights.

Plan the menu

Consider the number of guests you are expecting and their eating preferences. While barbecues are known for their non-vegetarian delights, don’t forget to add some exotic spreads for your vegetarian guests. Corn on the Cob with parmesan shaving and garlic butter, herbed mushrooms, stuffed peppers are some great alternatives to boring vegetarian fare. Make note of the number of kids coming and have something made especially for them.

Side dishes

While grilled meats and veggies are the stars of a barbecue, up your party’s ante by adding some side dishes. Fresh salads, choice of dressings, thick sliced tomatoes, sliced avocados all make excellent side dishes.

Signature drinks

Barbecue’s are all about beer, right? Well, they don’t have to be. Along with beer, you can also look at delicious fruit based sangrias and flavoured lemonades. Otherwise, you can also opt to keep two kinds of wine, one white and one red, and non-alcoholic sparkling wine in metal buckets that are full of ice. The guests can serve themselves!

Fruity ice cubes

In lieu of ice, use frozen fruit ice cubes. They look adorable and can be made days in advance. All you need are some fresh berries. Place one berry in each cube of your ice tray and freeze. Liven up your drinks the fruity way. The best thing is, kids too can enjoy these.

Topping station

Do not ignore the importance of a topping station. Make sure you go beyond the ketchup and mustard. Add guacamole, salsa, mint chutney, BBQ sauce, Tobasco and pickled veggies. Remember that brining isn’t just for cucumbers. You can just as easily pickle onions, carrots, cauliflower, and peppers. The unique flavours add more zing to your barbecue. You should also add an assortment of breads to go with your barbecue menu as well. Opt for delicious brioche, onion buns, or focaccia bread…you get the drift.

Don’t forget the dessert

No party is complete without a dessert, not even a barbecue. Keep a simple dessert that is barbecue friendly. Grilled pineapple dipped in chocolate, banana boats etc. are some great barbecue desserts.

Get all your tools

To host a great barbecue make sure you have the right set of grilling tools, grill brush, greasing brushes, gloves to handle the hot griddle etc. Don’t forget the biggest tool that’s going to keep your party going…music. Make sure you have your docking station or speakers ready to plug and play and get the party going.

Having said all this, a barbecue is going to be no fun if the host is frazzled and in a rush getting eats organized. Make sure your prep is completed the night before. Clean and cut all your fruits and veggies the night before and put them in separate zip lock pouches in the refrigerator. Marinate your meats and veggies the night before too. Clearly catering is not an option for a BBQ but consider ordering those staples that no Indian menu can do without – rice, some veggies and so on. And it doesn’t have to be boring – go for an authentic Hyderabadi Biryani or a genuine Punjabi Maa Ki Daal. Remember to keep the support food simple – remember the BBQ is the star. On the day of the party, all you need to do is kick up your heels and enjoy yourself along with your friends.

How to host a perfect BBQ

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