How to Throw a Last-minute BBQ Bash

A BBQ with people and hot dogs cooking on the grill.

It’s a great sunny day and you’ve decided to throw a BBQ on the fly. How are you going to put a classy event together on such short notice? Following are some tips and tricks to pull off a last-minute BBQ bash.


You could call everyone, but why not send an email invitation? There are numerous email invitation sites that allow you to build and email a professional looking “themed” invitation. These invitations allow you to enter event details and also offer an RSVP option, so that you’ll know how many people to expect.


A string of party lights outside.

Hopefully the weather is nice enough to have your last-minute BBQ bash outside. Use nature and your surroundings as your inspiration. Move indoor and outdoor potted plants to your area to create a lush environment. If the event is in the evening, candles in mason jars make for great mood lighting. If you lack outdoor furniture; indoor furniture, throw pillows, and blankets can be used outside temporarily. You can also use folding tables and smaller card tables. Simply cover with a fabric cloth or disposable tablecloth.


Everyone loves a good drink at a BBQ. You could create one signature drink for the event, or you could create a drink station. A drink station allows guests to make their own drinks to suit their own tastes. It also prevents you from running around and getting everyone drinks all day or night.

You can stock your drink station with items you have on hand, or you can ask your guests to bring a favorite drink to share. If you stock your own station, following are some options to have on hand: a bucket of ice, a bowl of sliced citrus fruit, club soda, clear citrus soda, cola, cranberry juice, white wine, red wine, vodka and/or tequila.

Arrange your drink items on a small table or cart. Beneath the cart you can place a cooler of ice and beer for your beer-drinking guests. Another great addition to finish out your drink station is a bar book filled with recipes.


A kabob ready for the grill.

The best part of a BBQ, besides the company, is the food. Grilled burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and chicken are easy to purchase and cook. You can even find pre-made burger patties in bulk in the freezer section of your grocery store. If you’re looking to be a little more adventurous, consider adding ribs and fish to your menu.

Green salads and pasta salads can be made ahead. Or you can purchase bagged mixed greens and pre-made pasta salad from your local grocery store. Simply put them into bowls, and your salads will look homemade.

Dessert items like cookies, cupcakes, and brownies can also be bought ahead of time from a bakery or your local grocer. Arrange in a napkin-lined basket or on a platter. Or, consider asking your guests to bring a dessert to share.

Last but not least is your condiment station. Consider setting up a table where you provide numerous toppings and condiments. Some great options are sliced tomatoes and onions, ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, horseradish, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, and salad dressing. You can also add a basket of various rolls to your condiment station, so that guests can choose their own sandwich bread.

Plates and Utensils

Plastic plates, cups, and utensils are perfect for a last-minute BBQ bash. You can buy them in bulk from a party store or big box store, and they come in a variety of colors and designs. However, if you prefer to go green, you can also purchase reusable melamine plates and disposable bamboo utensils. Melamine is lightweight and usually dishwasher safe. Bamboo is typically biodegradable. Both items can be found online.

Music and Entertainment

A party outdoors with lights.

A BBQ bash is not complete without some form of music or entertainment. Most cell phones and MP3 players can be hooked up to a portable radio or Bluetooth speaker, for instant music. Consider creating a playlist that suits your guests and theme. If games are your thing, consider setting up some optional lawn games or a scavenger hunt for your guests.