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Planning a BBQ for a crowd. Need help please

I'm starting to plan a BBQ to celebrate birthdays for my (soon-to-be) 18 y.o. and our (soon-to-be) 60 y.o. next door neighbor who share the same birthday. Our immediate neighbors get together for every 'summer' holiday. Each 'house' brings a side or dessert to share, and their own 'main' to grill for their family.

As there are two big birthdays for Labor Day, I would like to break tradition and plan something a little more organized, and do the 'main' myself, and most sides.

My neighbors are very simple people. I thought my Thai Noodle salad that I brought to the 4th celebration wouldn't go over well...even though it was met with approval. I was thinking of a mexican spread. Grilled chicken and beef soft tacos for the main. But I'm open to other possibilities.

What would you do, Hounds?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. A make-your-own fajita bar would be nice - grilled skirt steak or sirloin tip grilled and sliced, grilled chicken sliced, and a variety of toppings. Tortillas, guacamole, salsa, a corn and black bean relish, sauteed peppers and onions, sour cream and cheese - people can be as tame or adventurous as they want. Much can be done ahead, it's fun and looks good. You can add summer vegetables like corn and squash and tomatoes, and cornbread. Even my pickiest eater guests like this - if you think there are going to vegetarians you can marinate and grill some firm tofu and slice it like the chicken.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sheiladeedee

      This is exactly what I was thinking as I read the initial post. Any time you can make something and walk away for the rest of the night. It's great.
      My only other suggestion is. A number of years ago friends had a NYE party and had DIY kabobs. They made a few different varieties and condiments. They set them all on the table and lit the grill (gas). You pick out what you want. You cook your food, you do it up like you like. It was great and they were free to enjoy their own party. We ate all night. Fantastic.

      DT

      1. re: sheiladeedee

        you could also do some marinated portobello's as a vegetarian option.
        on the side you could do a great mexican salad. Also, to have around as people arrive- chips & homemade salas (maybe typical tomato as well as peach/mango).

      2. Lat party we had, 25 people and 21 dogs-- we did the burger, hot dog thing, but what realy stole the show was a huge dish of homemade basic Mac'n Cheese with a panko crumb crust!

        1. Will Owen's Kalua Roast Pork, torn and put onto buns and topped with Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory BBQ sauce--great for CHs and non-CHs alike!

          1. Doing everything in advance is a great idea....I would keep anything like chicken, beef, pork, in a chaffing dish if you have one. Alternatively, rent one.

            This will keep the food hot AND prevent any nasty bacteria growing and getting your guests sick. I the hot summer weather food poisoning causing bacteria will grow at a surprising rate!

            Jenna

            1. Thanks Hounds!
              These are all fantastic ideas. I had not considered the pulled pork or kebobs. Those are all great. Plus, I can even do all veggie kebobs for the non-meat eaters.

              Love the idea of the portobellos too...and the tofu? Wow.

              Thanks for all the help.