Planning the Ultimate Backyard BBQ

Planning the Ultimate Backyard BBQ

As the Sierra sun warms Tahoe and stellar days lengthen into long chill evenings, BBQ season is heating up. Eager to gather with loved ones and shrug off the stale loneliness of winter solitude, an outdoor BBQ offers the perfect combo of fresh air and friendship. Red Carpet Events & Design has teamed up with our favorite event professionals to bring you the ultimate Reno-Tahoe Backyard BBQ guide. Put your mind at ease and make sure you don’t forget a thing. Click here download our BBQ checklist!


Food is front and center when it comes to hosting the perfect BBQ. We reached out to our friends at the Overland to bring you a mouthwatering barbecued chicken recipe (click here). The Overland, in Gardnerville, NV, specializes in Basque influenced, smokehouse fare. We couldn’t think of anyone more qualified than Executive Chef Tommy Linnet to dish out grilling advice.  

Once you have your main attraction lined up, delve into the side dishes. Summer is the time to focus on foods high in flavor with easy preparation. Barbecue staples like potato salad and corn are fantastic on their own. But when you combine them with savory garnishes, like bacon and seasoned butter, you get a show stopping dish guaranteed to have your guests cleaning their plates and going back for more.  

How much food do you need?   

  • A general rule of thumb is 1 lb of food per adult guest and ½ a lb for children. That breaks down to 6-8 oz. of your entrée, approximately one hamburger per guest, and 8-12 oz. of side dishes.  
  • People tend to eat slightly more at night than during the day.   
  • Buffet style service also encourages people to eat 3-4 more oz. than seated service.  
  • Make sure you have plenty of sides, as well as some take away containers and plastic wrap. Be prepared to send leftovers home with guests. BBQ leftovers make a mean lunch the next day and you get to relive the success of the party through your taste buds.  

*Pro Tip: select recipes that can be prepared ahead of time.  Advanced preparation will leave you free to mingle with your guests.*


Keep your guests hydrated and the party flowing with a well thought out drink menu. A custom beverage elevates the party and lets guests know how much you appreciate their presence. Karen Nichols, owner of Red Carpet Events & Design and hostess extraordinaire, loves to serve a homemade ShandyShe recommends,” one part lemonade to one part beer. Serve over ice.” Easy and refreshing, a Shandy is the perfect taste of summer.  

*Karen’s Homemade Hooplah

Comine all ingredients in a sangria pitcher and refridertate for 6-8 hours. To serve, pour over Ice and top with sparkling water.

2 cups Frozen Peaches

3/4 cup peach vodka

1/3 cup lemonade concentrate

1 bottle dry white wine, rose or white zinfandel

Non-alcoholic drink offerings can be fun too. Keep the kids off soda pop by offering self-serve flavored waters. Beverage dispensers are a great way to present a cool, refreshing drink. The self-service option keeps the party flowing and encourages hydration. We are quite partial to strawberry lemon water. The strawberries and lemons look delectable, but the energizing flavor seals the deal with this thirst-quencher.  

Drink Calculations: 

  • Non on-alcoholic beverages, estimate 2 drinks per person the first hour and 1 drink every hour after that.    
  • For alcohol, 1 drink an hour is adequate.  
  • Estimate one bottle of wine per two people.  
  • For cocktails, a 750ml. bottle of liquor will make 16 drinks.  


‘Cue Decor 

Barbecue décor doesn’t have to be fussy. Here in Tahoe, mother nature does a lot of the decorating. BBQ décor should focus on function, comfort and conversation. It is important to provide shade during the day and light once the sun goes down. Red Carpet Events & Design offers several shade options. From umbrellas to tents, we’ve got you covered. For the adventurous host, we even have an 18’ teepee. Embolden guests to relax and chat by accenting outdoor furniture with an eclectic mix of rugs and floor pillows. Creating comfortable intimate nooks encourages conversation and engagement.  

If you plan for your event to continue long after the sun goes down, think about lighting your space. Bare bulb market lights are a great solution. Not only are they functional, but they really enhance the party environment. Bare bulb market lights create a festive feel and provide a warm glow that erases wrinkles. While lighting the back yard is important for guest safety, making your guests look good is an added perk. 

Don’t overlook food and drink stations. In addition to tables and seating for your guests, you’ll need a space for your food and drinks. Weaving a cohesive visual design with table decorations creates a welcoming environment, putting your guests at ease and defining the party space. Our tables and linens provide an array of options, from rustic wood accent tables to elegant farm tables.   

*Pro Tip: It’s windy out there! Use tablecloth clips to secure your tablecloths and save yourself the struggle.*

Red Carpet Events & Design has a large stock of serving accessories. Our selection of attractive platters, candy and cake displays make set up a breeze. For beverage stations, we have coolers and beverage dispensers. We also have a large selection of galvanized tubs. Galvanized metals are the perfect fit for the summer BBQ. Fill them with ice, pop in your beverages and you’ve got an attractive, self-serve drink station. Karen Nichols advises setting up two separate drink stations, one for alcoholic beverages and one featuring non-alcoholic selections.  It makes it easy to monitor children and clearly defines alcohol vs. non-alcohol, avoiding any confusion. 

*Pro Tip: Don’t forget serving utensils. Dishing out potato salad with a plastic teaspoon is less than satisfying. We like a generous dollop.*


Corn hole, Ladder ball, giant Je
nga- yard games provide entertainment. Friendly competition, or aggressive competition, depending on your crew, is a great way to engage guests and encourage interaction. Grandma might be ruthless with the croquet mallet, but it will give everyone a good laugh for years to come. Lexi Lequerica, our Event and Marketing Coordinator, recommends card games. Whether it’s Cards against humanity or Euchre, gathering around the card table while barbecuing is a fun family tradition.


*Pro Tip: Music is a must. A phone and a Bluetooth speaker is a simple solution, but playing tunes sets the mood and helps everyone find their groove.*


Consider setting up hand washing station at an outdoor sink or a hose. Offer hand sanitizer and encourage guests to use it. The CDC recommends using signs to remind people at events to physically distance and wash their hands frequently. Our master artist and official Event Designer, Matt McDowell, makes custom signs that creatively remind guests to follow CDC protocols.

Provide ample opportunities for guest to dispose of garbage. No one likes to wander around looking for a trash can with a hand full of dirty disposable plates. Make the garbage easy to find and change it out when it is full. Having a safety kit on hand to deal with stings and slight burns is a good idea. We hope you don’t have to use it, but it’s good to be prepared.  Same thing with a fire extinguisher. Know where it is and how to use it. Fingers crossed that you never need it.

*Pro Tip: Provide sunscreen and bug spray so your guests can focus on fun.*

Fire up your charcoal and let’s get cooking. Click here to download our handy checklist. Say Hello to set up your complimentary BBQ consultation. Recipe recommendations are included, just ask!