Want to have a good time at the next family, friend barbeque? Before you plan the food menu, before making your grocery shopping, before making your potato salad, plan on something to keep the kids busy. Planning fun things for the kids will almost always ensure the adults have a good time.
Kids like simple meals. Fortunately you can plan a kid friendly meal and still W-O-W your adult guests with your great grilled steak or chicken.
Hot dogs and hamburgers are good choices for kids. Also consider pre-making some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or bologna sandwiches. Most kids love these and you aren’t taking space up on the grill. Chips, veggies, and fruit just about always make kids happy. For dessert pre make a couple batches of cookies and all the kids food can be ready the night before. This saves you precious time and patience the day of the barbeque. See? Keep the kids happy and you will be happier.
Watching the kids should not fall upon one person’s shoulders. Divide the time between the adults. If children know that an adult is going to be supervising the whole picnic, you will get better behaved children. Better behaved child will make happier adults. So, make a list of who will be kid watching at what different times. Try to stick to this list, or you will be cooking, cleaning up, and trying to find where little Johnny is (or isn’t).
Taking the idea of “assigning” times for kid watching is also very helpful with other aspects of your picnic or barbeque. When an event just falls on the mom or dad burn out occurs and you just don’t enjoy your time as your guests do. This is not fair, and keeps a lot of parents from planning more outings with the family and friends. Share everything.
Do not to hesitate to ask everyone to bring something. A bag of chips from Uncle Craig who can’t cook, some fruit drinks from Michael would be a good idea. Trista can gather her cute kids together to make some peanut butter sandwiches. Uncle Rick would make a great potato salad from Gramma Dottie’s recipe. Ask Jessica and her precious kids to put together some veggie and fruit sticks. By asking friends or family who have children to bring the kids meals you help them create their own memories of your family and friend outings. Kids like cooking if you keep it simple. Creating memories is really what it is all about. The older kids like Austin, Chase and Travis can run in to the convenience store and haul out the big bags of ice you are going to need to keep drinks and some foods cool. So plan on finding some big bowls and buckets for ice for the drinks and food. Shawna and her darling kids can make some cookies. If you have someone coming from quite a ways, like Kelly, ask them to pic kup some buns while they are shopping with whomever they are staying with. Don’t ask Grandpa or Gramma to bring anything. Their job is to enjoy all their grand and great grandchildren.
If your picnic or barbeque extends to night time, don’t forget night time snacks like smores or a great big paper bag full of homemade popcorn with real butter and salt. Sparklers are fun and fairly safe with adult supervision. Look for the Big Dipper or Little Dipper. (Or all of them, if you know them, I only can recognize the Dippers.)
Now that you have the food taken care of, you unquestionably have to arrange some preplanned fun activities for the kids. These can include sports type games such as Frisbee, baseball, or races. Pinatas are always fun, but can leave a big mess. Be prepared to clean up after the Pinata fun.
A very important factor in keeping our kiddies from becoming crabby and whining from all the activities is to provide some quiet time. Bring their little blankies or something from home that they can relate to resting and you will have an easier time of settling them down for a little while.
Paper type games and sit down games can help settle them down too. A fun sit down game for kids of all ages is called: What’s Wrong with This Burger? A left to right style BBQ game. Everybody who wants to play sits in a circle. Hand out one or more little gifts or treats and get someone to read the story out loud. Every time the word LEFT is read, the players hand their item one person to their left. Every time the word RIGHT is read, the players hand their item one person to the right. Whoever is holding the goodies when the story ends gets to keep them. You can make up your own story, or for $6.95 you can download a premade downloadable story at
Because I don’t think that any child should leave without a treat, my version of this game is different. Hand out 2 scraps of paper. On these 2 scraps of paper you write 1st Pick and 2nd Pick. Provide a container with small gifts or treats. The winners get to dig in first and choose theirs. The rest get theirs after that.
On last note: DON’T FORGET THE BUG SPRAY.