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Backyard barbecue essentials

Summer barbecue season has arrived, and this season may be an especially active one.

Many summer barbecues were called off in 2020 as the world continued to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the number of fully vaccinated adults rises across the United States and Canada, outdoor gatherings like backyard barbecues are much safer than they were a year ago. That bodes well for backyard barbecue enthusiasts who can’t wait to cook their favorite foods over an open flame.

Since so many backyard gatherings were canceled last year, now may be a great time to revisit the essential components that make barbecues such a beloved summertime tradition.

· Furniture: In early spring, fully vaccinated individuals were given the go-ahead to gather mask-free with fully vaccinated people from other households. That was a relief for people who are itching to spend time with family and friends after more than a year apart. If you’re planning to host a backyard barbecue this summer, inspect your outdoor furniture for wear and tear, especially if you did not bother to take it out of the garage last summer. A thorough cleaning might be in order. Many outdoor furniture retailers have replenished their inventory since last summer, when supply chains were interrupted by the pandemic. So if your existing furniture has seen better days, now is the time to replace it.

· Food: Ask guests if they have any food allergies prior to the barbecue. Let it be known that anyone with a food allergy can bring their own foods without fear of offending hosts. If someone does have an allergy, set aside some freshly cleaned dishes for them in the days before the party. Make sure those dishes are not kept alongside other serving dishes so guests have uncontaminated plates and cutlery to use when they arrive. When planning the menu for people without food allergies, don’t forget traditional fare like hamburgers and hot dogs. Such foods might not be fancy, but they will lend a little normalcy to the festivities. And be sure to stock up on supplies for s’mores so everyone can finish the night off with a delicious dessert around the firepit.

· Games: A new cornhole set, some frisbees and even a few extra baseball mitts and baseballs can ensure everyone has something to do in between hamburgers. If you have the room in your backyard, set up a wiffle ball field and encourage willing guests to make teams and play a game of wiffle ball.

· Audio/visual entertainment: An outdoor movie screen or television and some surround sound speakers can allow those interested to watch a game during the barbecue. If yours is more of a musical crowd, some Bluetooth speakers around the backyard set to a relaxing summer playlist can help to establish the perfect backyard barbecue ambiance.

· Miscellaneous items: Many adults are fully vaccinated, but the vaccine had yet to be approved for kids under 16 as recently as mid-spring. If families with kids under 16 will be coming over, purchase extra masks to keep kids safe. It’s also a good idea to stock up on hand sanitizer and make it available in the backyard as well as inside near doorways and in bathrooms.

As summer hits full swing, now is a great time for homeowners to revisit the essentials for throwing a backyard barbecue to remember.

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