Firing up the grill and inviting friends over for a day full of great food and ice-cold drinks is a quintessential summer activity—but when you can’t get together IRL, you have to get a little more creative. Have no fear, though, because there are plenty of virtual barbecue ideas that are the next best thing to grilling with your BFFs. Distance from loved ones can be hard, but technology is on our side right now. Although you might not be able to do some of your favorite social summer activities, you can still connect with and stay close to your friends and family. So go ahead and head outside, plan a barbecue menu, set up the perfect Zoom background and soak in the sunshine. These virtual barbecue ideas are ready to make it feel like (almost) the real deal.
Arguably the best part of having a BBQ is getting to socialize with our loved ones—although the food is a close second. And while we can always fire up the grill (or stove top, for those of us who don’t have grills handy) by ourselves, the meal isn’t what makes a barbecue a barbecue; it’s the people. Chatting on Zoom isn’t necessarily the ideal, but it’s better than sitting and munching on some corn with no one to talk to. Video calls are a great way to make it feel like people are with us—even when they’re miles away.
To help you create the best virtual BBQ the world (or your backyard) has ever seen, we rounded up some easy ideas to try. If you’re able, make sure you slip outside and enjoy the sunshine on your porch or in your yard. Never underestimate the mental health benefits of fresh air and chatting with friends. Now go forth and whip up some potato salad!
1. Send Out The Invites
A barbecue isn’t the same without friends—even if they’re just attending virtually. So go ahead and invite your pals and tell them the date and time of your can’t-miss virtual BBQ. Check the weather and pick a sunny, warm day. Just be sure to let them know it’s BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything).
2. Create A Fire BBQ Playlist
Although you might not be surrounded by people, you can still set the BBQ mood with the perfect playlist. Whether you’re a fan of classic rock, pop or country, go ahead and put together a list of songs that remind you of sunny days spent with loved ones. And don’t forget the latest Megan Thee Stallion “Savage” remix featuring Beyonce!! Alternatively, Spotify’s “Summer BBQ” playlist has some bops if you don’t want to make your own.
3. Plan Out Your Grub In Advance
Coordinate with your friends so that you’re either all grilling hot dogs “together” so it feels more real. Or, have everyone pick their own fave BBQ food. (Pasta salad counts!) If you’re not usually the one who cooks during the festivities, there are so many easy barbecue recipes you can make in a slow cooker. (!!) So no matter your skill level, you can still create your own classic BBQ treats to eat while chatting with friends.
4. Take It Outside
If your wifi works outside, head out to a back porch or patio for your Zoom sesh. Getting some fresh air and sunshine can instantly lift your spirits and remind you of fun summer days spent outdoors. If you don’t have an outdoor space, hang out by your window. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
5. Coordinate Your Zoom Backgrounds
Make it feel like all your friends are together by coordinating your Zoom backgrounds. All you have to do is click on Settings, then choose Virtual Background and upload whatever photo you wish. You can choose a picture of one of your friend’s backyard or use one of the below BBQ background options to add a little fun to your Zoom chat.
You can use this delightful table full of delicious foods and wine for a more upscale BBQ feel. I mean, peep those melons with prosciutto!
Or, you could always go with a classic fired-up grill. You and your friends can imagine whatever you want is cooking—from corn and peppers to burgers and hot dogs.
Of course, there’s always this adorable backyard BBQ set-up. If your virtual barbecue is a little more intimate, you and your friends can use this Zoom background that has all the best summer vibes.
6. Dress In Your BBQ Best
Get creative and commit to a theme for your virtual BBQ! It could be as simple as everyone dresses in red, white and blue or have all members of the video chat wear summer-appropriate gingham. You could get even wilder if you wanted, though, and have a 1960s BBQ theme or 1940s picnic vibes. Have fun with it and let your creativity shine.
7. Enjoy Your Food & Friends
Get grilling, but remember the best part of a BBQ isn’t the food, it’s the time spent with friends. Having conversations over a Zoom chat isn’t the classic barbecue socialization, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Take some time away from Netflix binges and Animal Crossing and just enjoy sitting outside talking to your BFFs. You could even turn the festivities into virtual game night if you don’t want to hang up!