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The Graduation Barbecue – Tips for an Unforgettable Gathering

The Graduation Barbecue – Tips for an Unforgettable Gathering

What’s better than celebrating a graduation with a casual, backyard barbecue?  This relaxed, stress-free party is the perfect setting for young and old to mingle, reminisce, and not take life too seriously while enjoying some mouth-watering food.  Here you’ll find a few ideas for making it an easy party to host, so you can focus on heaping praise on your graduate.

Graduation parties call for finger foods and smaller portions (guests are often attending many of these events in one weekend), but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on taste or presentation!  If you’ve got a grill aficionado in the family, the following are good options, served buffet-style table or scattered on standing “pub-style” tables throughout the backyard.  These foods appeal to all different tastes, can be customized with different sauces served in a divided condiment dish, and are just too darn cute to pass up!

  • Sliders in different patty options – mini cheeseburgers, pulled pork, grilled chicken, and a even a vegan option (grilled portobello or beyond beef). Just enough for a few bites, leaving time to mix and mingle without going home hungry… in fact, you might find guests staying longer to try several different versions!  Present these on platters, keeping vegetarian options separate, with easy add-ons like lettuce, tomato slices, onions, and pickles.
  • Skewers – not only visually appealing, but easy to assemble, cook, and eat! Marinated meats like teriyaki chicken, garlic-infused shrimp, or tender seasoned beef chunks work well on the grill alongside cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms.  For an easy grill and meat-free cold option, try caprese salad skewers drizzled with balsamic glaze.  And for desserts, put together some mini-fruit skewers you can drizzle some chocolate over (a small gravy boat or pitcher works well for chocolate sauce – who knew?).  Yum!
  • Sweet & Savory bites – Small sausage bites and grilled pineapple with colorful toothpicks are a great option for “luau” or pool-size barbecues. Want to show off the graduate’s school colors? Just drizzle some colored white chocolate over pretzels or a salty popcorn mix – your guests won’t stray far!  For sweeter desserts, serve cupcakes with colored sugar crystals and icing or bar desserts decorated with M&M’s and display on a cake stand or tiered serving tray.  Afraid you’ll run out of these favorites?  A simple cutting board with a variety of crackers and cheese can be re-supplied often –to elevate this option, try brie and honey, cream cheese and jalepeno jelly, or a cheese ball.  Don’t forget a spreading knife!

Alongside the food, consider some fun, low-key games – volleyball, cornhole, frisbee – that work well with short bursts of participation and still allow for space to mingle.  Pay attention to setup and keep seating and food out of the reach of favorite pets, splashes from the pool, or smoke from the grill.  An outdoor celebration is not only the perfect low-key gathering spot, but also a welcome tradition in the life of a graduate.  Keep yours simple, fun, and tasty for an unforgettable milestone they’ll always remember!

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