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Chic bbq party - is that an oxymoron? Nope. If done right, your barbecue can combine the relaxed feel and comfort food of a typical grill-out picnic with special touches that take the menu, decor, and entertainment up a notch...or ten. Your guests will never forget it. This chic bbq post is inspired by a fabulous 4th of July/70th birthday party I attended at a stunning home on the shore in Westport, CT. One of the hosts, interior designer Rebecca Spinner of Bespoke Styling & Interiors, serves up some of her tips here. Plus, New York Times bestselling novelist (17 times!) Jane Green shares a recipe for those who are a little tentative around a grill. A master at weaving a riveting plot, Jane also knows how to create a perfect dinner party. Her recent cookbook, Good Taste, illustrates the art of exquisitely tasteful entertaining with a relaxed feel. Pick up a copy for your kitchen or coffee table, after perusing these chic bbq party pointers...
1. Haute Hors D'Oeuvres Rather than plopping out bowls of potato chips and pretzels, order mini bamboo skewers (Bed, Bath & Beyond; $4.99 for 100) and make skewers of cherry tomato and mozzarella balls or watermelon and feta. Grill kebobs for the main meal to keep everything on point.
2. Chic Chalkboards Use little chalkboards to label dishes for your guests. You also can use the boards to note nut ingredients, especially if kids with allergies are on the guest list. (Various styles available on Amazon.)
Chic Chalkboards. Photo by Jerri Graham.
3. Vases with Pinwheels Festive pinwheels in vases give a picnic vibe with a classy presentation. Kids can play with them at the end of the party, and you can skip scrubbing vases or disposing of wilting arrangements.
4. Grill Outside the BoxAre you accustomed to only grilling 'dogs and burgers? Mix it up! Grilled watermelon? Yep, delicious. Read my interview with grill master Steven Raichlen for all sorts of out-of-the-box grill-able food ideas. Grilled bellinis, anyone?
Pinwheels in vases, shot by Jerri Graham
Grilling watermelon on iBBQ's Angara grill table
5. Make It a Social Grilling PartyTalk about out of the box. With iBBQ's new revolutionary Angara grill table, barbecuing has never been so chic! Everyone can sit around this gorgeous table, sip wine, chat, and grill together. As the host, you won't be scrambling to cook all the food and miss out on the relaxed atmosphere you have so carefully orchestrated. 6. Serve Mum's Spare RibsAuthor Jane Green grew up in England - not exactly a hotbed of barbecue activity (but, funny enough, iBBQ's founder discovered the Angara grill table there). "I need to come clean," she writes in Good Taste. "I am rubbish at barbecues." If you also feel lacking in the grill department and don't yet have an Angara to help make grilling a social rather than stressful experience, then Jane's recipe for Mum's Spare Ribs will bolster your spirits. You can do the majority of the cooking of this dish in your familiar oven, then finish it off on the grill and look like a barbecue whiz!
Mum's Spare Ribs, from Good Taste, by Jane Green. Photo by Tom McGovern.
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 racks spare ribs
Preheat over to 450 degrees.
Mix all ingredients and marinate meat for at least an hour.
Cover ribs with aluminum foil and turn oven down to 350 degrees.
Cook for 2.5 to 3 hours. Uncover and place on grill until crispy and stickily delicious.
7. Mix Up the Guest List The easiest way to success in climbing the ladder to chic entertainer is to invite chic people to give you a leg up! This doesn't mean everyone has to come decked out in designer wear (though a few fashionistas never hurt a soiree), but invite a mix of interesting people who will keep the conversation lively. Save your beer pong crowd for another night.
8. Sing Us a Song Have a piano? The Spinners rented a grand piano and had a pianist play after dinner. Several talented friends warmed up the crowd and guests, young and old, soon jumped in to croon their favorite tunes. Nothing says chic bbq party quite like this...
9. Valet Parking Long guest list, not so long driveway? The Spinners organized valet parking for their guests, which made for a classy beginning and end to the evening. Have a chic bbq party tip to share? Share it on our Facebook Page and we'll repost our favorites!