Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fun for Kids at Picnics and Barbeques

Picnic Fun for Kids

Picnic Fun For Kids

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


BBQ Left-Right Game: What’s Wrong With This Burger?


 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. 





Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Simple Guide To Barbecues

A Simple Guide To Barbecues

Barbecue season is up and running, so if you haven’t joined in yet, now is the time to get involved and make the most of the summer sunshine.

If you are without a BBQ, or have just pulled out a rather shabby looking husk of a grill from the shed, it may be time to get set up with a proper barbecue. Which immediately leads to the age old question of charcoal or gas? Not to mention portable barbecues too.

So with this in mind, here’s a brief run down of the pros and cons of each to help you decide what’s best for you, plus a look at the convenient world of portable BBQs too.

Gas barbecues

Pros • Easy to clean • You can control the heat • At the push of a button it’s on and ready to cook • With several grills or burners, you can cook different foods at different temperatures at the same time.

Cons • Can cost more to buy than charcoal BBQs • Full size model can’t double up as a portable barbecue • It doesn’t naturally smoke • Replacement gas can be harder to get hold of when you run out

Using a gas barbecue is really simple and pretty much hassle-free, which means that you get more time to hang out with friends and family if you are having a party or play with the kids. Also, if you’re a a traditionalist and you miss the smoky flavour of a charcoal grill, you can always buy a barbecue smoker as an add-on accessory instead.

Charcoal barbecues

Pros • Natural, smoky flavour • More fun as it is more hands-on and involving than gas • You can smoke food such as fish with charcoal • Cheaper than gas BBQs • Replacement charcoal is easy to buy

Cons • It can take a while to get going (between 30-40 minutes to heat to 180-200 degrees Celsius) • You can’t control the temperature, so at first it will be too hot and then you have with a window of opportunity to cook at the right temperature before the coals start to cool • They can also be difficult to clean

So a charcoal barbecue may take a bit longer to set up and tidy away but with a long summer evening ahead you can always just sit back, relax, open a bottle of wine and look forward to some real smoky BBQ flavour.

Portable BBQs Having a small portable barbecue means freedom to out on the patio, balcony, park or beach whenever you want. You can take one on camping trips, picnics or even to festivals where you will be the envy of your fellow campers who will all be vowing to bring one next year after seeing you eat so well.

You still have to make the decision between gas or charcoal as you would with a normal BBQ. A portable gas barbecue means you don’t have to take coal with you, which also means you don’t have to spend lots of time tidying up afterwards, while others get to enjoy the precious sunshine hours. Portable charcoal BBQs are, however, cheaper and easier to source and are available as permanent and disposable options. In both cases it is very important to make sure you give the coals time to cool and then properly dispose of them as to avoid any potential fires.

The only downside with portable barbecues is that you can’t pack them up until they have cooled down, but this is easily catered for with a bit of forward thinking and planning. They are designed for convenience and day trips but probably won’t suit large parties and regular use.

So, if you’re a bit of a barbecue enthusiast it is probably best to get a sturdy, permanent barbecue to keep in the garden for parties and a portable barbecue as well for everywhere else – but whether it’s gas or charcoal is up to you!

By Robert John

Thanks for the Great article Robert!