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The Complete Labor Day Barbecue Guide

Laurie Smith, The Entertaining Shoppe

The dog days of Summer are here, and yet those cool evening winds remind us that Labor Day is right around the corner. Time to get rolling with your plans to host an end-of-summer barbeque that will be remembered through the winter months.


BBQs have experienced a bit of stereotyping over the years, with standard barbeque fare typically including hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob, fruit salad and possibly some paprika-sprinkled deviled eggs.

While this sort of operational menu still has its place, it’s officially time for a grill-side makeover.  This summer, consider adding Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, Cowboy Caviar with Crunchy Corn Tortilla Chips, and Southwestern Chile-Marinated Pork Sandwiches to your elevated backyard gathering. 


As summer closes and the list of fall errands opens, presenting your guests with a fun way to break the ice and create some fun, lasting memories can easily be accomplished with what I call “table-top fun:"

  • Place a few mason jars filled with their photo props along the dinner table (picnic table, picnic blanket etc.)
  • Add a few disposable cameras and turn your dining space into the photo booth

This brings the fun of a photo booth to the whole group instead of a few people at a time, and it can be a great way to break the ice if your guests don’t all know each other.


Although the grill often gets center-stage at an outdoor summer barbeque, never underestimate the power of a fun, summer-inspired dessert that appeals to all ages.

Table-top s’mores require no fire pit and serve as a tasty treat for kids and adults alike. By cooking them and eating them at the table, this dessert becomes not only a warm, comforting end to the meal, but also a fun, novel activity for guests.


While guests will be tempted to fill up with seconds and thirds of great barbeque fare, they’ll likely enjoy some friendly backyard competition with a bean bag toss game, ladder ball, horseshoes and any other fun game they aren’t too full to play.  A fun Western-themed twist on bean bag toss could involve setting out a pair of cowboy boots and golf balls to throw for a BBQ-style, corn hole game option.


Summer sounds can be as relaxing as its seasonal smells, so music has a foundational role in outdoor ambiance. Here's a great playlist to download and play during your barbeque.

Mountain living is an all-seasons lifestyle, but our favorite season is whichever season we’re in.  Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of these last summer days.

MC Pittinos is co-founder of The Entertaining Shoppe.com and a veteran disciplinary business exec, contributing her 15 years of marketing prowess and general wit to the Shoppe's interactive marketing program. She lives with her family in the Denver area.

See also:
It's All in the Details: Creating the Perfect Dinner Party
Fall Harvest Party
6 Things The Entertaining Shoppe Can't Live Without

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