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As the temperature rises, so do the flames on the outdoor barbecue! With the days growing warmer and longer, get ready to party as the backyard grill once again becomes the focal point of summer celebrations.

vegetable kabobs
For an extra-savory side dish, try
vegetable kabobs made of tomato,
mushroom, zucchini and red onion.

Outdoor grilling has come a long way from camping days and hot dogs on an open fire. Some of today's grills are complete gourmet kitchens on wheels, with the focus of summer parties in the U.S. beginning with Memorial Day through the 4th of July to season's end with Labor Day.

Whether your favorites are hot dogs, chicken, steak and hamburgers, barbecued pork, kabobs, or even grilled salmon, an outdoor barbecue is the perfect way to entertain - relaxed and informal with plenty of delicious food, drinks and decorations to make the party festive.

These days, all sorts of gatherings centered around the barbecue including tailgate parties, birthday bashes, Hawaiian luaus, family reunions, as well as weekend pool parties.

Planning your outdoor barbecue party

Planning your backyard barbecue party can be as easy as inviting friends and neighbors for a casual sit down -- or if it's a formal celebration -- leaving enough time for preparing the menu, and sending out invitations.

You can either purchase invitations or save money with do-it-yourself barbecue clip art adding messages that read "BBQ Bash!" or "We're Having a Pig Out!, with date, time and RSVP details.

When planning the menu, be sure to keep the number of guests in mind, and have enough food on hand, especially if hungry kids and teens are coming over! That includes all the fixin's -- such as the macaroni and potato salad. Also, make it easy on yourself by having plenty of drinks and beverages in clearly marked coolers so guests can help themselves.

For dessert, think about traditional summer fare such as ice cream, soda floats, or delicious fruit kabobs in keeping with the occasion!

Easy peasy fruit kabobs are a great way to wrap up any outdoor barbecue celebration.

After the feasting is over, let the real fun begin by arranging party games and activities for kids of all ages. Consider a traditional game of horseshoes, a water balloon toss, a team relay race, --or if the theme is Hawaiian -- how about a backyard hula dancing competition?

Elsewhere around the Web, find more tips for planning your next barbecue party including advice and resources for creating invitations, party activities, games, and recipes with more barbecue party ideas just up ahead ...have fun!

More summer party articles & recipes

How to make smores

How to make a watermelon fruit basket

Guacamole recipe

New England clam bake

Barbecued marinated chicken recipe

10 tips To BBQ safety


More about barbecue party ideas around the Web:

Girls at the Grill
- "A girls site for all things grillin'" offers tips and tricks from what to wear - to what to grill. Get information on grills and hardware, recipes, menu ideas, and a 'libation station' for what to wash it all down with.

Best Barbecue Recipes - The Food Network - Baby back ribs, anyone? Plus more than 40 more recipes for barbecue dishes they'll be talking about long atfer the party is over.

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