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Father's Day Barbecue Etiquette
Make this Father’s Day a celebration for your husband that he will never forget with these 14 tips.

What dad doesn't love a good barbecue with friends?

Finger foods are part of the fun and lots of napkins and wet towels are welcome at the table.”
A good old-fashioned barbecue is a great way to honor Dad (your husband) this Father's Day. What dad wouldn't enjoy a backyard barbecue, especially when he is the guest of honor? With a little thought and planning, this year’s barbecue bash could be the start of an annual Father's Day tradition. Here are 14 ways to get things cooking.

Plan the guest list. Decide if the barbecue is going to include only immediate family or if friends and extended family will be a part of the day. Older children can be responsible for addressing and mailing out the invitations. A casual barbecue invitation can be sent out via e-mail or you may choose to send the invitation through the postal service. Whichever you decide, the invitation should be sent out two weeks in advance of the Father’s Day barbecue party. Include an RSVP for an accurate head count and for food purchasing purposes. If you don't hear from an invited guest, feel free to call them and ask if they received the invitation. Sometimes a gentle nudge is necessary, although it is good manners to respond to an RSVP in a timely manner (within a few days of receiving it). Anticipate a few declines on the RSVP list—understanding this is a day when people make plans to visit their own father’s and family members.

Ask Dad's input on menu items. Younger children can research easy recipes and contribute to the barbecue by making Dad’s favorite foods, with adult supervision. If you are planning a larger-scaled affair, ask friends and family members to bring their favorite barbecue side dish. Make sure to keep a record of what each person is contributing so you won't have an abundance of potato salad and not enough baked beans.

Paper and plastic are perfect companions. Sturdy paper plates and plastic utensils are part of the barbecue experience, and licking your fingers is allowed. Finger foods are part of the fun and lots of napkins and wet towels are welcome at the table.

Prepare a speech. If you want to do something extra special for Dad this year, serve champagne (adults only!) or sparkling cider and prepare a toast for the occasion. Allow the children to make their own toast, mentioning a special experience or memory. In order for the toast to come across as "off the cuff" it must be composed in advance, tweaked and rehearsed. Dad will definitely feel special when he sees the effort everyone put into this endeavor.

Get fancy without spending a lot of cash. Handmade place cards can add flair to your barbecue and the kids can make them with the art supplies in their desk. Place the cards on a table and let each guest take their card and place them wherever they would like to sit. It's not the "official" role of the place card, which is generally pre-set to guide each guest to his or her seat, but it's a fun spin on an old standard.

Drinks on the house. Offer plenty of cold beverages, but don't feel pressured to set up an entire bar. Serve your husband's favorite brew, several large pitchers of water, lemon and mint and a few other offerings such as soda or lemonade. Let guests know in advance that you will have plenty to drink, but if they want something special they are welcome to bring their favorite libation.

Make it fun. Plan a few games for the barbecue that your husband is really good at so he can show off in front of friends and family. After all, it is his special day and he will probably enjoy the competitive activity.

Give the yard a makeover Before guests arrive, spray the lawn with an insecticide and have plenty of cans of bug spray on hand for those pesky mosquitoes or other bugs that may be a nuisance in your area. Make sure to have plenty of seating and also a covered area for those that are trying to stay out of the sun.

Set a festive tone with outdoor music. Bring out your iPod or a CD player and play your husband's favorite tunes. Clear out an area for the two of you to dance, along with the children, family and friends.

Designate yourself "Chef for the day." Although Dad might usually be the one fanning the fire and grilling the hot dogs, give him a break and put on your apron and get a little smoky…unless, of course, Dad insists because he loves to grill.

Buy Dad the perfect gift. Staying with the barbecue theme, buy Dad a new set of grill tools or a personalized apron. Better still, find an inexpensive apron that the children can decorate themselves. The gift doesn't have to be expensive, just thoughtful.

Add a little spice to the day. Have friends and family bring their own bottle of homemade barbecue sauce for everyone to sample and let Dad be the official judge. Have some prizes ready for the winner of the barbecue sauce cook-off, and a few more for the best "fishing" stories.

Don't forget other dads at the party. If people were nice enough to share their day with your family, honor other dads by having small party favors that acknowledge their special day, as well. Maybe a fishing lure, a bottle of special barbecue rub, your own homemade recipe of barbecue sauce or a customized CD of the music that you have been enjoying throughout the day.

Have a contingency plan. Check the weather report and be ready to bring the party inside, if necessary. It may be a bit crowded in your family room but close friends and family will understand as long as the burgers aren't soggy and the company is good.

Dad (your sweet husband) will appreciate your hard work and remember this Father's Day for years to come.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.

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