Even if the official start date of summer isn’t until June 20, Memorial Day weekend is an opportunity to relish all that the season has to offer – get-togethers with friends and family, warmer (hopefully) weather and most importantly the beginning of barbecue season. Whether you’re having an intimate get-together with a few people or a big blow out with a bunch of friends, here are some tips to get your Memorial Day BBQ off to a great start:

Get Minty

Iced tea, soda and water are must-haves for non-alcoholic drink options at any soiree, but you can easily take it to the next level with a little imagination. Fill a jug with sparkling water three-quarters full and add the juice of an orange and a lime. Then, add some fresh mint leaves (about a handful will do). Give it a stir (just don’t overstir or you’ll lose all the bubbles) and taste. Too sour? Add the juice of another orange or a touch of honey. Once you have the taste perfected, add slices of oranges and limes to garnish.

BYOK

A fun way to mix up a BBQ lunch or dinner is to ask guests to Bring Their Own Kebobs. When extending the invite, ask each guest to bring two-to-four kebobs with their choice of meat, veggies or tofu. When they arrive, you’ll take care of grilling everything. Remember to keep everything separate when cooking – you don’t want to mix your meats (food safety is important) and also vegetarian options should be cooked separately. BYOK is a hassle-free way for everyone to get a chance to sample a variety of options and it will take the heat off you from making all of the food.

Taste of the Tropics

Instead of a heavy dessert like brownies, opt for something that you can toss on the BBQ. Slightly under-ripe fruit – like peaches, nectarines and pineapple – taste delicious when you grilled. Put out an array of fruit and let the kids create their own custom kebob dessert. Cook the kebobs on the grill for about two-three minutes a side.  You can serve them as is or with yogurt on the side.

With these simple tips you can spend more time enjoying your guests, instead of slaving over the food and a hot barbecue grill. Happy Memorial Day.