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Celebrate summertime safely with friends and family.

By Hannah Selinger
April 07, 2021
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Gatherings—small ones, that is—are back again, and we're ready to party (in a safe, socially distanced, and responsible way, of course). According to the CDC, vaccinated people can now gather in small groups, and that means one thing: tiny barbeques! But how do you format a grill fest for a few rather than many? Read on for a smaller sized menu, which includes plenty of delicious options.

caprese skewers on a grey plate
Credit: France C

One Per Person

The best way to entertain in the era of coronavirus is individually, and that means personalized appetizers. With the warm weather stirring, caprese salads feel like the right choice for a small gathering with friends. Rather than serving a whole plate of the mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad, though (which involves one spoon and many hands), consider these caprese skewers. Guests can pick a few for their plates, making it a shareable appetizer that eliminates the actual sharing. There are plenty of other appetizers that can be turned into one-per-person skewers, too. Shrimp cocktail is an indoor dish, but you can bring the shrimp party outside with grilled shrimp pesto skewers. Hot-off-the-grill olive skewers—a salty, savory combination of olives, bacon, and garlic—is an addictive way to kick off the barbeque too.

Sloppied Flank Steak Sandwiches on a white plate
Credit: Molly

Entrees for a Small Crowd

Burgers and hot dogs are an obvious single-serving choice for a barbecue, but what about something a little fancier? Marinated grilled Asian flank steak can easily be sliced and served to guests in order to avoid any plate-sharing. Or up the ante and make these sloppied flank steak sandwiches, a play on the classic sloppy Joe. Vegetarians won't be left out of the equation, either, with these portobello pizzas; throw them on the grill to cook for extra smoky flavor.

Grilled Hearts of Romaine
Credit: Molly

Sides for Everyone

If you're thinking, "But how can you execute a barbecue without shareable side dishes?" Well, we've got that covered, too. Individually wrapped baked potatoes, cooked on the grill, are an excellent way to provide a hearty, delicious side while avoiding the communal potato salad bowl. In lieu of fruit salad, serve up these grilled pineapple slices, and plate them right off the grill. Or offer a makeshift Caesar salad by grilling Romaine hearts and dressing them with cheese and tossed lemon: everyone gets a heart of their own.

Shelly Hospitality's Blueberry Turnover Hand Pies on a baking sheet
Credit: valerie

Keep It Sweet

Pie may feel like the best-ever dessert for an outdoor party, but the slicing of a pie is not necessarily socially distancing-friendly. But what about pies (and desserts) meant for just one? Individual peach cobblers harness the sweetness of the season, all in one tiny serving. Blueberry crumble can be made for one, like in this perfect recipe. Or if pie crust is more your style, hand pies are a great way to keep desserts individualized.

Watermelon Frose on a metal tray

Quench the Thirst

Don't leave the drinks off the table! You can pre-make, batch, and then pour cocktails for a crowd. Particularly barbecue-friendly is this watermelon frosé, a pink, refreshing, and delicious drink that speaks to the start of summer. Or make these sunset rum punches to order, since they're uncomplicated, tasty, and the perfect summer color.

Meat And Vegetables On Barbecue Grill
Credit: Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

Other Tips of the Trade

Disposable silverware, plates, and cups are definitely best in the age of Covid. But you can dress up what you have with a little planning beforehand. Group together disposable forks, knives, spoons, and napkins in small bundles and tie them together with pieces of butcher's twine. This will eliminate the hunt for silverware—and less searching means fewer hands touching things. Use a silver- or gold-colored permanent marker to label disposable cups with guests' names so that drinks don't get confused in the shuffle of your party. And, if you'll be asking guests to wear masks when they aren't eating, offer guests their very own when they arrive. You can label disposable masks with names, and set up a small station with back-ups for anyone who needs a mid-meal refresh.

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