backyard funThis prize was provided by The Coca-Cola Company. The Coca-Cola Company is not a sponsor, administrator or connected in any other way. RD Christina Rivera has teamed with Coca-Cola to bring you the following personal fiesta planning tips for the summer.

Summer Outdoor Party Tips

When school is out we need to put on our creative hats to entertain our loves ones. If one of your favorite warm weather activities includes grilling, but you are bored with the same foods that are served at every BBQ from now until Labor Day, why not try a new, creative (and nutritious!) take on BBQing this summer?

  1. Go beyond burgers: Thinking outside of the box when planning the menu is sure way to break up the monotony of the typical hamburger and hot dog BBQ fare. Varying the proteins and keeping it finger food friendly does not have to include a chef and hours of prep work. As an alternative, try chicken breast, bison and salmon, which are sold as patties and are just as easy to grill. For a twist on sliders, ground chicken or turkey breast or even a fish such as canned tuna or salmon can be made into mini sizes. This offers guests a portion that is just enough to enjoy their food without feeling stuffed. Kabobs made with shrimp, chicken or skirt steak are always a fan favorite and as simple as placing 1-2 ounces of protein on a wooden skewer. Here are a few hamburger alternatives from the Makobi Scribe recipe archive.
    [column size=’1/2′]
    The Goat Stuffed Indian Burger Recipe (1)

    The Goat Stuffed Indian Burger Recipe

    Turkey Black Bean Stuffed Burger

    Turkey Black Bean Stuffed Burger Recipe

    [column size=’1/2′]
    jalepeno bacon turkey burger recipe

    Jalapeno Bacon Turkey Burger Recipe

    Stuffed Chicken Burger[/column][/row]

  2. Find a fresh take on fruits and vegetables: Incorporating fruits and vegetables into a BBQ as part of the main dish or simply as a side can be as easy as flipping a burger. Use sliced onions, zucchini, peppers or mushrooms to complete the kebab ideas mentioned above. Fruits like pineapple, mangos and peaches taste sweeter when cooked and can be added to a wooden skewer to make a fruit kebab. Slice the fruit and then mold using cookie cutters and you will transform fruit into something new and fun, thus making it more appealing to both kids and adults. In season vegetables such as asparagus, eggplant and tomatoes can be brushed with olive oil and placed on aluminum foil can be cooked on the grill for side dishes.
  3. Make simple swaps: When presented with an array of delicious food options, it can be difficult to choose what works within your lifestyle and calorie needs. Rather than depriving yourself of the foods you love and missing out, try swapping higher calorie options with foods that are more nutritious and just as enjoyable. Top burgers with avocado, kale, mushrooms or a low fat yogurt dip to save calories for other treats. To season your meats and vegetables, use fresh herbs (can be grown at home or purchased in a supermarket) like basil, rosemary or dill instead of marinades, which are typically loaded with salt. Your taste buds (and heart) will thank you. Including whole grain buns and pasta salads are another way to
    enjoy your favorite side dishes without the guilt. The extra fiber will help you fill up and can work in your favor if overeating is a concern. To save calories in beverages enjoy the mini soda cans for a portion controlled size. Always drink as much water as possible to hydrate, especially during the summer season!
  4. Present nutritious options: We often don’t think of offering nutritious options for appetizers or sides in fear that nobody will eat them. backyard bbq
  5. Practice Food Safety: Be sure to keep raw meat away from fruits, vegetables, or any other dishes that may be served cold to prevent cross contamination. Keep a meat thermometer handy to ensure that all proteins are cooked thoroughly (aim for 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the type of protein and how well done you prefer it). Perishable foods should not be left out for more than 2 hours. If it is above 90 degrees outside, then no more than 1 hour.
  6. Do not burn your proteins: New research shows that when proteins are charred on the grill they form carcinogenic properties called HCA (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).To prevent this from happening, thaw your meats in the microwave for a few minutes prior to grilling, cook on a low flame for a longer period of time, or try use a marinade to lower the meat surface temperature. Last but not least, keep your guests busy with activities that will bring out the inner kid in everyone. Relay races, obstacle courses and bean bag tosses are just as much fun for the adults and are family friendly activities. For the sporty crowd, set up a volleyball net which can double as a badminton court. A sure way to get everyone out of their chairs is music – make a playlist of your favorite summer songs or hold a “dance off”. Remaining physically active throughout the day is a great way to balance out food and drink consumption. The best part is, these simple activities won’t cost a fortune and can be modified for any crowd.

Tell me your favorite outdoor summer party tip for a chance to win a Coca Cola Summer essentials kit!

Entry Form


  1. My favorite tip is to have activities for kids so they stay busy and adults are free to socialize and not worry about bored, restless kids.

  2. I love tip # 2 Find a fresh take on fruits and vegetables, it’s good to experiment with veggies you wouldn’t normally use!

  3. When planning an outdoor BBQ party, make sure you have enough seats/chairs for your guests, nothing like standing around & trying to eat or chat up a storm with family/friends.

  4. All great tips! I would add, always watch the little kids. They can wander into the pool, get too near the grill, or grab a piece of raw meat. Be aware of your kids!

  5. We love grilling out, never new burning the meat though could cause health issues though, going to let my husband know not to burn the steaks!

  6. We love bbqs have one coming up with all the neighbors for the end of the summer love your tip of going beyond the burger some really great ideas

  7. Love to barbecue, even in the winter. I had pineapple and peaches grilled for the first time this summer, that was amazing.

  8. Food safety is especially important. Did you know that raw onions are a big carrier of bacteria. They can make you sick sooner than raw meat can.

  9. Love summer bbq’s love changing things up and using ground turkey also instead of ground beef, grilled mushrooms are my favourite..just drop a dozen on the grill (no oil) and they are so good and juicy

  10. I have friends that grow their own vegetables and I am thankful that they are sharing their tomatoes and okra with me as well as one of my friends have a fig tree that they share figs with me. I sure am enjoying summer foods daily.

  11. Our favorite outdoor activities include roasting marshmallows and just sitting around the campfire in our backyard. Watching the bats come out at dusk and the fire flies is so relaxing.

  12. It was important to read about not burning proteins and the carcinogenic effect since I love burnt meat

  13. Everything tastes better when cooked on the bbq. Got to say though, I have never bbq’d fruit before.

  14. I like your ideas about grilling fruits and vegetables. My husband and I tried grilled green peppers, and they were delicious!

  15. Grilling is a must! I enjoy a good steak now and then, but my favorite meal on the planet is a summer bbq cheeseburger.

  16. I am vegan but no one else is, so we grill a lot of veggies as well, especially eggplant, portabella mushrooms, and corn. My husband has a separate area of the grill that he uses just for veggies so there is no cross contamination. That way everyone can enjoy the food.

  17. We love grilling up burgers. Thanks for all the fantastic recipe ideas. Thank you for the chance.

  18. Have lots and lots of Citronella candles and Torches lit or a fogger, especially if you live in the country.

  19. Awesome tips! Summer entertaining is one of my favorite things to do and new ideas. I always try to add as many veggies as possible since BBQs can be very meat oriented!

  20. I don’t enjoy foods that are charred on the bbq. I’m concerned to hear that it might be dangerous!

  21. This is wonderful information we love to bbq our weather is so mild here we do it year round a few times each week if not more. Veggies are so good on the grill too .

  22. I love having the drinks easily available so that people can just grab a pop and go. I will fill buckets with ices and put beverages In the several buckets at different areas of the backyard

  23. I love these tips, I knew some of them already. If I could only get my husband to try some of the other things to top his burgers with. I will have to keep trying.,

  24. Thank you for the great tips. I’m trying to eat healthier so I’ll be trying those turkey burgers and incorporating more veggies with our BBQ.

  25. BBQ, best there is, chicken, steaks, veggies, all taste best when grilled outside on a gas grill.

  26. Great ideas for having a summer party! We love to fire up the grill and pull some games outside and have a fun summer evening. We just need to wait another month or so to get back to doing it, over 100 degrees right now is just toooo hot.

  27. Good tip on the fruits. Never thought of bbq’ing those, much less cutting them into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Something I have started doing this years is using my cast iron skillet on the bbq to cook diced veggies and make bacon for my burgers.

  28. I like to make sure there are ways to stay cool, whether it’s lots of cold beverages, or a fun slip n slide!

  29. I love all these wonderful ideas especially the veggies you forget about how good grilled veggies are and always think simple! I love all the ideas!

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