A step-by-step guide for those who want to host a virtual barbecue this weekend

Summer is hurtling towards us like a runaway train, and what could scream sunshine better than a good old-fashioned outdoor feast? While rising mercury is usually a reason for those closest to you to start planning fun outdoor activities, the current situation means it's time to get a little creative. So why not sidestep all the previous warnings about screen time and turning off technology and host a virtual barbecue?

So, how exactly did people celebrate summer in the weird old days we live in? Well, it wasn't possible to do it the old fashioned way, and I agree it's a bitter pill to swallow, but thanks to modern technology, you can combine the elements of real life fun with the convenience of virtual fun. The aim is some kind of recombination of the norms. I have a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

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Step one: Invite

Arrange a time, a (virtual) space, and maybe a dress code if you like. It makes things feel more special if everyone dresses like they're leaving home, even if they don't. Why not make things official with a proper invitation (via a group message or Google Cal event)? This will get everyone excited in advance.

There are many options for how to connect in a virtual space (especially since Whatsapp recently increased the limit to 8 people per call), but my recommendation is to opt for a Zoom call. Yes, I know we all suffer from Zoom fatigue, but it's the perfect place for large groups and a great option for sharing audio (more on that later). The only hitch is the 40-minute rule, so check with your team to see if anyone has a premium account and can set up unlimited calls.

Step 2: Barbecue

Get your grill organized. For some, that just means rolling out that beautiful Weber Master and giving it a good scrubbing. For those with limited space, you might opt ​​for a more compact option, like this one from Argos. While the concept of disposable grills is tempting, they just don't have the same effect, it's a false economy, and they're not environmentally friendly. In other words, it's best to avoid them. When you're on a video call, make sure you keep the grill in the frame - after all, it's the centerpiece of the event.

Argos Home Charcoal Portable Round Grill Argos

All you need is charcoal and get grilling!

Step Three: Food

Bring all food and wine inside. Here’s where you might see the benefit of hosting a lockdown event rather than an actual event: the cost. Unlike a real-life garden party, in this case all you need to do is grab a block of halloumi and whatever else you want to throw at your Barbie. If you want some gastronomic cohesion among the team, maybe you can arrange the menu in advance? The same goes for drinks. Cocktails (or mocktails) are sure to make a barbecue feel more like an event, and luckily, we've got a list of cocktails you can make using ingredients you already have in your store cupboard. Because who has time to track down absinthe at a time like this? ! Keep a pitcher of the cold stuff in the freezer and be thankful you don't need to fill the tub with ice and wine.

Step 4: Playlist

Make a playlist. This can be done on Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube, but some independent online radio stations such as Amateurism and NTS can also offer back catalogs of their shows if you want to keep top-notch music live. Once you decide on the songs, you have to think about how to get everyone to hear them at the same time. This is where Zoom may come in handy, as it has a built-in audio sharing tool. More details can be found here.

For those without outdoor space...

For those who don't have access to any outdoor space, hosting or attending a virtual barbecue will obviously be tricky, but it's by no means impossible. My advice is to invest in a frying pan and look for the sunniest window in your home. After all, the best thing about having a barbecue is being with the people you love, and not even lockdown can stop you from doing that.