Memorial Day is fast approaching and marks the beginning of the barbecue season. It’s the time of the year when the grill is cleaned off, the required cooking tools are inventoried, the lawn furniture is washed down, and the sauces and rubs are added to the grocery list. It is also the time to revisit your barbecue etiquette.
If barbeque etiquette sounds like an oxymoron, it isn’t. There are indeed rules for properly conducting yourself as a host and as a guest. Just because these festive events are generally held outdoors and are casual in nature does not mean anything goes. There are rules to observe.
For the hosts:
- Be prepared. That means making sure you have enough of everything from charcoal or propane to food and beverages And don’t forget the cups, plates and napkins. Grandma’s china and crystal are not appropriate substitutes when you run out of serving items.
- Have a rain plan. While rain should be forbidden during outdoor events, it will occasionally show up. Either arrange for tents or know how you will handle an indoor picnic.
- Provide all the food and beverage. Unless you are hosting a family reunion or the traditional neighborhood party, don’t ask people to bring things.
- Have plenty of bug spray and insect repellent. Your guests should be the ones eating, not being eaten. If you live in a “buggy” environment, it is a good idea to have food domes on hand, not only to keep certain foods warm, but to keep flying pests out of your culinary delights.
For the guests:
- 1. Keep your grilling advice to yourself. Your host is in charge of the grill. You may have what you consider is a better way of doing of things, but unless you see that the host is about to set the place on fire, keep your mouth shut. Open it only for conversation and food.
- 2. Leave your legendary potato salad at home. Unless you are asked to bring a dish, don’t. It would be an insult to your host.
- 3. Volunteer to help. Now that’s good barbecue etiquette. These events can get hectic at the last minute so offer your assistance in case it is needed.
- 4. Use your napkin to clean off your sticky fingers. Tempting as it may be to lick your fingers, it is simply not good manners. Neither is using your finger nail or toothpick to pick the corn out from between your teeth. Be sure to have dental floss on hand, but excuse yourself to use it.
Memorial Day is the first run at the barbecue season and your first chance to practice your barbecue etiquette. Like the Kentucky Derby winner, make sure it is your best. You would like to be invited to others.
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Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.