I’m Just Here for the BBQ

When you think about how you want to spend July 4th, what are the first things that come to mind?

Firework displays and sparklers, right?  

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor gathering with your family and friends . . .

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen

and a flaming grill full of something barbequed   

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen


 What we barbeque might be different. Some of us eat pork. Some don’t. Others don’t eat meat at all.  But can we all agree that spending time with family and friends with something cooking on the grill is the best way to celebrate?
Of course we can!


As we mentioned in our, It’s Time to Celebrate blog back in May, we love a good party. Between now and the middle of August when the kids go back to school, there’s lots of time to create special memories with your family and friends. In this summer that will be known as the summer of outrageous gas prices, your outdoor living space should definitely take center stage. Save the money on fuel and spend it on your outdoor gathering.

The 4th of July is especially important to us because it is our country’s birthday. The staff at Big Bend Landscaping loves America and we can’t think of a more fitting setting for our nation’s birthday celebration than a beautiful outdoor living space surrounded by family and friends. One of the reasons we enjoy building outdoor kitchens is because we know customers will use them in their own celebrations.

Big Bend Landscaping is back with more tips to help you put together a stress-free, enjoyable party. With just a little advanced planning and a little elbow grease, you’ll be on your way to having a terrific 4th of July. We’ve broken it down into a simple timeline, along with a checklist to help you pace yourself. These suggestions don’t just apply to the 4th; there are 60 days between now and when school starts. Make every one of them count!


 Two Weeks Before

The Guest List

It is better to do this a month or so in advance, but in today’s busy world, many of us don’t make up our minds that we even want a party until two weeks or so before. Unless you really enjoy putting together events at the last minute (you weirdo), consider giving yourself at least a couple of weeks to decide how big you want your gathering to be and who you want to invite.

Your party and your comfort level matter! Decide on how many people you actually enjoy spending time with, what your budget will allow for (more on that below), and don’t be talked out of it or guilted into doing more than you are prepared for. Maybe this year you want to celebrate with the people next door? Or just your immediate family or your roommates. Or maybe you’re really gregarious and want to have a huge gathering. Any of the above is perfectly fine.

But before you declare that you want to have a huge get-together and include everyone you’ve ever known, here are some questions you should ask yourself.

How Much Room Do You have?

  • How big is your grill?
  • How much food or drink can your outdoor fridge hold?
    And if you don’t have a fridge or it isn’t large enough, do you have ice chests to hold cold drinks and temperature sensitive foods like potato salad?
  • How many people can you comfortably accommodate?
    Some people don’t mind not having a lot of elbow room. Others do. An honest assessment of your usable space, indoors and out, will give you a good idea of how many people you should invite.
  • How much counter space and/or tables do you have?
    Do you have enough existing counter space in your outdoor kitchen to set food out on? If not, do you have enough tables for both guests to sit at and to place food? If you have saw horses or can borrow them, a piece of wood covered in a table cloth (or old fabric) is a great substitute.
  • Can you provide or get access to enough seating?
    Folding chairs? Patio furniture? Or do you feel comfortable asking guests to bring their own? If you have a seating wall, you’ve already got ready-made extra seating. If you don’t have one yet, contact Big Bend Landscaping so we can get you on the list. Next year, you’ll be ready!
  • Important Side Note: Consider inviting guests to contribute to the menu!
    If you have friends or family who make a particular dish or have a favorite food, ask them if they’ll make enough to share. Experience has taught us that when people feel like they have something to contribute to the party, they have more fun.

The other decision that will affect the scale of your gathering is the budget.

Outdoor Living Big Bend Landscaping St. Louis Missouri Design and Build Hardscaping

The Budget

Whether you prefer small gatherings or large ones, you want your 4th of July gathering to be memorable. And if you decide ahead of time on how much you have to spend and where you want to spend it, you’re more likely to get the party you want. Fortunately, it’s easy to celebrate the 4th  of July without spending a huge amount of money. Here are a few tips:

  • Check your pantry and freezer for what you may already have

If you stockpile things like seasonings, baking supplies, and shop sales for meats or vegan sources of proteins, you are already winning. And if you keep paper plates on hand, see if you already have enough.

  • Shop sales

Start this a month in advance if you can—Hit up Amazon, online grocery delivery services, and your local supermarket for snack foods, soda, etc. Discount markets are a great place to pick up inexpensive plastic ware and/or paper products.


You can do so much with so little if you enjoy making things. And even if you don’t, gather a few empty jars or old drinking glasses, pick up some small flags at your local dollar store and put a few in each jar, and tie red, white, and blue ribbons or bits of fabric around them. Then place them on the tables and serving spaces. Add a few red, white, and blue balloons and you’ve got a party.

  • Check second-hand stores, thrift shops, flea markets, and rummage sales for decorations
    One man’s junk is another man’s riches, as the saying goes. Empty canning jars make for great drinking glasses! Mismatched plastic plates will look better on your picnic table than you might think—especially if you find pick them out with color schemes in mind. For the 4th of July, you can focus on red, white, and blue. Adding homemade, no-sew napkins made from fabric scraps is a great way to save on paper products. And you can reuse them over and over! You don’t have to spend a lot on decorations and dishes to have a beautiful 4th of July bash! And what you save on decorations, you can spend more on food and drink.Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen

Plan Activities

4th of July parties have a way of providing their own activities. But it doesn’t hurt to have a few things planned just in case. Especially if kids will be in attendance. Outdoor games, swimming, bean bag tosses or other easily homemade outdoor activities are fun for old and young alike. Here are just a few ideas to consider



Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen

Fireworks (Of course!)

It is hard to imagine the 4th of July without fireworks. This is why most communities offer large, beautiful fireworks displays. But for many, it’s just the same as setting off fireworks they’ve purchased themselves. With some advanced planning, you can incorporate this time-honored tradition into your party. But before buying them, check local statutes. Setting them off inside city limits is illegal in some areas. Also, please consider:

  • Pets and livestock universally hate fireworks. Do your neighbors have pets or livestock? You might warn them so they can move them to a safe place. And if you have pets, provide them with a soundproof space.
  • Sound-sensitive people, such as veterans and those with PTSD, sometimes struggle with loud noises. Give all your neighbors a heads up a few days ahead of time that you’ll be setting off fireworks so they can take steps to protect themselves.
  • Limit the entire display to an hour or less. This will keep you popular with your neighbors and pets.
  • Think about the best place to set them off and consider the cleanup. Today’s bottle rockets are tomorrow’s scattered debris.
  • Supervise children carefully around them and make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand.

Here is more important information that will keep everyone safe while enjoying this time-honored tradition.

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen


One Week Before

The menu

When we think about the menu for the 4th of July, we gravitate toward traditional fare like hamburgers and hot dogs. But we don’t have to. There are lots of other foods you can put on the menu if those don’t appeal to you.

When you’re planning your menu, you’ll want to think about who you’ve invited. Are there any vegans or vegetarians in the crowd? Diabetics? People with gluten allergies? You don’t want them to be stuck eating salad or veggie tray while everyone else is enjoying a sumptuous variety of foods. These guests are only tricky to feed if you don’t know where to look. There are tons of foods available for vegans and diabetics these days. And many of them are ideal for preparing on a grill in an outdoor kitchen. Here are some ideas for the vegans and vegetarians in your life and some here for the diabetics

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen


Speaking of your outdoor kitchen

Make sure everything in your outdoor kitchen is in working order. Do you have enough propane for the grill? (Make a note to get some extra propane if you don’t already have it) Does your ice maker function properly? No leaks from your outdoor sink? Where are all your grilling utensils? Are they clean and in good repair?

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen


Three to Five Days Before


Ordinarily pre-cleaning for guests is no fun, but for parties—it kind of is. Give your outdoor kitchen some extra love—clean the grill, mop out the fridge, and wipe down the counters with some pleasant-smelling disinfectant.

Other clean-up tips:

    • If you have a swimming pool and haven’t shocked it in a while, this would be a good time to test it and see if it needs it again.
    • If you have a lawn care service, see if they can come by and do some extra clean up.
    • If you do your own lawn care, make time for the mowing, pruning, and picking up lawn debris, kid’s toys, and any odd items that have found their way outside.
    • If you plan to use your fire pit, make sure everything is in working order so there won’t be any embarrassing moments on the night of the party (well, related to the fire pit anyway). If it’s wood burning, make sure you have some on hand. The same goes for propane.


Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen

Two or Three Days Before


  • Pull out the extra furniture, confirm that it’s functional, and give it a quick wipe down.
  • Confirm with guests that they are still coming. If they’ve agreed to bring something, a gentle reminder is a good idea.
  • If you haven’t gone shopping yet—now is the time to get the last of the supplies.
  • Make sure your decorations look the way you want them to. This will prevent last minute disappointments.

The Day Before

Last Minute Check

  • Set up any tables you plan to use. This will give you a chance to work out the geography of the situation and make changes. Don’t set the chairs up until the day of—that way they won’t be in your way.
  • Check your list of supplies. Make sure nothing disappeared (food has a knack for doing that) or gone bad.
  • If you’re going to provide beer—make the beer run now so you can chill it ahead of time.
  • If you need ice, either start making and putting it in bags in your deep freeze or buy it.
  • Do advanced food prep! Thaw the meat or any other frozen foods. Marinate the things that need to be marinated, chop the things that need to be chopped. Bake the things that need to be baked.
    Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen

The Day of the Party

Decorating: If you’ve got all the set up done, now is the time to string up any banners, decorate tables, and blow-up balloons. Set up those chairs! And if you’ve got any activities planned, set those up too!

About an hour before everyone is due to arrive, set out the food and any cold drinks you’re providing (either in the outdoor fridge or ice chests or large buckets) and fire up the grill.

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen

Have the party!!!!

Greet your guests, visit with them! Enjoy these hours! You’ve earned every minute of this! Eat your own food (you can diet tomorrow). Watch the fireworks! If you’re a hugger—hug people. If you’re not, hug a few anyway.

Take just a few minutes to appreciate the country you live in and the people you love. We have our problems and our worries as a nation, but right now enjoy where you live and remember the people who sacrificed so much for your freedoms. Look at how far we’ve come since 1776!

Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor Kitchen


So if you’ve read this whole thing and you’re thinking, Wow! I wish I had an outdoor kitchen! Imagine all the parties I could give… you’re in luck! Big Bend Landscaping builds beautiful outdoor kitchens. Many of the pictures you’ve seen in this article are of outdoor living spaces we’ve built.

Big Bend Landscaping has been building outdoor kitchens, patios, firepits, pathways, retaining walls, and seating walls in the St. Louis area for over 25 years. We have many five-star reviews on Google ratings and an A+ rating with the BBB. Our crews have a Level 1 Certification from the National Concrete and Masonry Association. This means we’re experts in our field. And since we work with only the best materials, such as Belgard, Romanstone, Bp, and Pavestone, our customers get the best of everything! Let us help you create an outdoor living space for your next gathering!

Big Bend Landscaping knows how to help you make the most of your outdoor living space. If you can imagine it, we can build it! Check out our website for more details, email us, or call for more information!

We hope you have a great 4th of July celebration! Stay safe! We’ll see you next month!


Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen
Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen
Big Bend Landscaping Outdoor kitchen