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A Graduation Party Barbecue

You Can't Go Wrong with a Burger Bar

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Graduation Celebration

Girls Celebrating at their Graduation

Getty Images/Iconica

Graduation couldn’t arrive at a better time than the late spring season. The perfect spring weather gives hosts an ideal venue for a party that is often large and casual. Many graduation parties are planned as an open house so that friends of the graduate can move between parties, celebrating throughout the day. This can be a challenge for a host since it makes the volume of guests at any one time unpredictable. One minute you may have no one but the graduate and his or her family, and fifteen minutes later your home has been descended upon by your student’s entire soccer team. An outdoor event will provide room to move around and comfortably socialize, no matter how many guests are present. It also begs a menu designed around favorite summertime ingredients.

Take this occasion to plan a barbecue menu that is based on the classic burger, a popular summertime main dish for both old and young. Put a modern twist on this menu by creating a burger bar. Serve selections that include, but go beyond, basic ground beef to accommodate modern tastes that range from low cal to vegan.

Setting the Stage

As you would with any outdoor party, you’ll want to anticipate the possibility of bad weather on the day of your graduation party, even while you’ll be hoping for the best. If you have a large enough house for all of your guests to run inside for cover, then you don’t need to do much. But if your expected guest list is large relative to your smaller home, you should make arrangements to rent a tent. Don’t wait until the weather forecast for that day because all of the tents will have been reserved by then. Even if the day is hot and sunny, guests will still appreciate shelter from the heat.

Since it’s an outside, active party that includes young people, you can provide activities to keep them at your event once the eating is done. Set up popular outdoor games for everyone to play such as horseshoes or ladderball. You may find that your student guests choose to hang out at your home longer, before heading off to the next party in the neighborhood.

The Menu

Design a Burger Bar that allows your guests to mix and match their burgers and toppings:

The Secret to the Perfect Burger Patty - This guide from BBQ Guide Derrick Riches tells you how to make a perfect beef burger with suggestions for alternative mixes to 100% beef.

Top 10 Hamburger Recipes- From fillings to toppings any of these burgers will be standouts at your barbecue. The first recipe, Bacon Double Cheese Stuffed Burgers, will seem like an indulgence, but don’t stop there when Cajun and Aloha burgers are waiting for you to give them a try too.

Turkey Burgers- This recipe combines a variety of savory ingredients for a moist and flavorful alternative to beef.

Soy Glazed Salmon Burger - This award winning recipe is loaded with Asian flavorings and topped with a ginger lime aioli.

12 Most Popular Vegetarian Burger Recipes - It’s surprising how many young people are making the choice at a very early age to become vegetarian even though they live in non-vegetarian households. That’s why you’ll want to offer at least one, if not several, of these popular burgers including portabella mushroom burgers and spicy vegan black bean burgers.

Toppings , Toppings and More Toppings - The more toppings you can offer, the more exciting your burger bar will look. If you can serve them in matching bowls, it will give a uniform look to your table. Here are some ideas for toppings, but consider this just the beginning of your possibilities:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Pickles
  • Cheese, including American, Cheddar, Crumbled Blue, Feta
  • Sliced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Red Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Bacon
  • Tahini Sauce

While burgers are wonderful, you’ll need to serve a few accompaniments, as well.

Classic Potato Salad - This salad will be as welcome as a sunny day at your party. It’s the classic with a mayonnaise base, chopped onions, eggs, and celery.

German Potato Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing - Since you’re giving options with the burgers, why not offer a few choices for potato salads too?

Celery Mint Salad - You can cut some of the richness of the meal with this refreshing salad.

Classic Lemonade - Add a cold pitcher of classic lemonade for a refreshing, summertime addition to the other beverages you serve.

Lynchburg Lemonade - Serve this popular lemonade-type cocktail to the adults at your party. Just make it clear that it’s off limits for the kids and teens.

Ultimate Brownies - Handheld desserts are the way to go at this party, and with lots of kids expected, go with one of their perennial favorites.

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies - For that rare person in any crowd that isn’t interested in chocolate, these oatmeal cookies with raisins should make them happy.

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