On a warm Sunday Afternoon, I treated guests, friends and family members to a taste of well prepared sumptuous dishes and drinks amidst healthy conversations, entertainment and great music. Planning the cookout was made easy once I had decided on what to do, the meals to prepare and who to invite. Entertainment was from Dstv Programmes such as Big Brother's Sunday Eviction, Super sports' football matches and some music.
When planning a cookout, the following factors should be put into consideration.
The venue for the cookout is key as it will determine the number of guests you can invite, the limitations you should plan for, the timing of the event, and other allowances that must be made. Gardens, hotel swimming pool areas,dining rooms, hotel receptions, private residences are ideal locations for a cookout. For some reason, I prefer having cookouts outdoors, more for the fresh air, calming atmosphere and enough space to breath.
For mine, I Chose an outdoor setting at my family home in Ibadan. We set up chairs , tables to make an informal arrangement. Later in the evening, some guests moved inside to enjoy some entertainment while others continued to stay outside. Thankfully, no rain fell till late in the night.
If an outdoor arrangement is chosen, ensure there are alternative or temporary shelter to protect against unfavorable environmental elements such as heavy rainfall, mosquitoes bites, flies or harsh sun.
Public holidays, weekends in the Afternoons or late evenings are ideal times for cookouts, as guests have more time to spend and relax, enjoy the cookout and not in a particular hurry to leave.
The ideal time is between 2pm and 7 pm. Cookouts can also be organised for special occasions such as birthdays, bridal showers, bachelor parties, anniversaries, friends get togethers.
3. Food on the menu:
This is the most important factor as the cookout is about eating, drinking and making merry. What type of foods will be served, budget for the cookout and cost of foods involved? Who provide the foods/
You must consider the main dishes, side dishes, drinks, desserts to be served.
Below is a breakdown of food served during the cookout I planned:
1. Stir fry spaghetti and chicken in sauce
2. Iyan / pounded yam and fried egusi
2. Dodo Ikire ( Fried Mashed plaintain balls)
3. Friedplaintain / Dodo
4.Peppered spiced chicken
1. Vanilla ice cream sprinkled with crumbled wafer
1. Orange juice
1. Orange juice
Food on the menu can be versatile and made to reflect your tastes, grills, barbecues can be included. To ease preparations, can drinks can also be considered. However, I prefer home cooked meals and preparing all meals and drinks from scratch, provided there is time. It tastes better , offers a better healthy choice and is unique.
The guests invited will depend on who or what the cookout is for. I invited family members, friends and a guest that won an Instagram contest. Invitations were sent by sms and word of mouth. You can also consider email or letters, depending on the preferred mode of communication.
5. Getting supplies
All supplies needed for the cookout should be gotten at least a day before the event , fresh foods such as meat, chicken ice cream can be bought on the day, but if there is iced storage( freezer) or if the location is quite far from the stores, a day prior to cookout will work out fine. The perishable goods can be cooked and stored for use the next day. Dishes, utensils, cooking items should be washed and cleaned, napkins, serviettes, table covers cleaned and dried. Flowers and centerpieces can be used to decorate the tables. For supplies, you dont have, you can ask friends to bring, buy or borrow from a neighbor.
If you want to save yourself the stress of washing up and clearing dishes later, you can decide to use disposable plates , cups and napkins. But setting out dishes also adds a home appeal to the cookout , this was the case in mine.
Having a cookout is quite simple whether for a small number of guests or large crowd, as long as there is adequate planning and preparation. However, if you feel overwhelmed in planning a cookout, you can hire my services as professional event planner to help relieve the stress.
You can watch a video of the variety of dishes I prepared for the cookout here