Summer has arrived, marking the beginning of the barbeque season. This is the time of the year when the grill is hauled out and cleaned off, the required cooking utensils are inventoried, the lawn furniture is hosed down, and the sauces and rubs are added to the grocery list. It is also the time for revisiting your barbeque etiquette.
If barbeque etiquette sounds like an oxymoron, it isn’t. There are indeed rules for properly conducting yourself as a host and as a guest. Just because these festive events are held outdoors and are casual in nature does mean that anything goes. Whether the occasion is for business such as the company picnic or simply a neighborhood gathering, there are standards to follow.
Etiquette Tips for the Hosts:
1. Be prepared. That means making sure you have enough of everything from charcoal or propane to food and beverages and don’t forget the cups, plates and napkins. Grandma’s china and crystal are not appropriate substitutes when you run out of serving items.
2. Have a rain plan. While rain should be forbidden during outdoor events, it will occasionally show up. Either arrange for tents or know how you will handle an indoor picnic.
3. Provide all the food and beverage. Unless you are hosting a family reunion or the traditional neighborhood party, don’t ask people to bring things.
4. Have plenty of bug spray and insect repellent. Your guests should be the ones eating, not eaten. If you live in a “buggy” environment, it is a good idea to have food domes on hand, not only to keep certain foods warm, but to keep flying pests out of your culinary delights.
Etiquette Tips for the Guests:
1. Keep your grilling advice to yourself. Your host is in charge of the grill. You may have what you consider is a better way of doing of things, but unless you see that the host is about to set the place on fire, keep your mouth shut. Open it only for conversation and food.
2. Leave your legendary potato salad at home. Unless you are asked to bring a dish, don’t. It would be an insult to your host.
3. Volunteer to help. Now that’s good barbeque etiquette. These events can get hectic at the last minute so offer your assistance in case it is needed.
4. Use your napkin to clean off your sticky fingers. Tempting as it may be to lick your fingers, it is simply not good manners. Neither is using your finger nail or toothpick to pick the corn out from between your teeth. Be sure to have dental floss on hand, but excuse yourself to use it.
Etiquette Tips for the Business Barbecue
1. Maintain your professionalism. While you are there to have fun, be mindful of your actions and your words.
2. Dress like a professional. Business attire is not expected, but make sure that your casual dress is conservative. Avoid anything that is sloppy, shabby, sexy or revealing.
3. Hold back when serving yourself. Piling on as much food as your plate will hold makes you look like you only came to eat. You can go back for more once everyone has been served.
4. Play it safe with the drinks. If alcohol is being served, limit your intake. Warm weather, alcoholic beverages and a company barbecue can be a dangerous combination.
Barbecues and picnics provide a relaxed way for family, friends and co-workers to gather together, to catch up and get to know each other better. Enjoy yourself and others but always be mindful of your manners. Demonstrate your best barbecue etiquette so you will be invited back and you will still have a job on the next working day.