by Monika Meulman
In the summer time we gather and enjoy company, drinks and great dinners – outdoors!
One group of neighbours drops by, followed by another and another. Before you know it there are twenty people lounging in your backyard.
If you’re like me, it’s your favorite time of year: outdoor friendships, eating, and great conversation. Maybe a couple friend musicians bring their acoustic guitars and help you serenade the night away.
It’s so easy – or is it?
If your BBQ is burgers and beers, it can be easy to have people over anytime! Stock up on the basics, such as burgers and buns, condiments, some drinks, and fire up the BBQ. You may be quite the pro at throwing together a BBQ for your neighbours or close friends. If that’s your style, you are surely the ‘go to’ backyard of your neighbourhood.
What if your BBQ guests are your colleagues, your boss, in-laws, or new friends? Do you get stressed? Does everything have to be just right? Do you worry about timing, food presentation, or how you will be able to accommodate everyone?
Some of us are natural worriers. We may get stuck in the planning stages of an event, even a fun one like a BBQ. What we don’t realize is that the ‘planning’ of an event, begins before the shopping or cleaning. The process starts with your vision. Set a clear vision of what the evening will entail and the details will begin falling into place. Yes, there are many physical logistics to consider. These planning details can be carried out with ease, a sound mind, and little energy, if you are mindful of the evening’s vision. Remember, you are in control of you.
Take time. Slow down. Consider what you need. Breathe. Breathe deeper. Again. A few minutes of your day dedicated to a visualization can do wonders for any event.
If you choose the opposite, and begin the week or day of preparing for the BBQ frazzled, denying yourself preparation time, you are bound to fail. Perhaps, on the surface, the party will be a success, but inside you will be spent, tired, exhausted. That is your choice of course.
To host a tremendous BBQ event, remaining intact, your mind fully engaged, and still hopping with energy accompanying the last of the guests, follow these simple steps. A bonus: You might just get hooked on mindful living too!
3 Steps to A Successful and Mindful BBQ are:
1. Create a Mental Picture of Who, What, Where, How
This is a visual exercise. Once you have a confirmed date of the event. Take 5-10 minutes in a quiet place at your home or office, in the park, on a lunch break, wherever, and close your eyes. See the actual date in your mind’s eye. Slowly bring into focus the menu you wish to see. Scan over the prepared decorations, serving dishes, and any special meal additions you wish to include. Slow down your breathing. Enjoy the mental preparation.
Everything is flowing from one stage to the next. Imagine the aroma of the foods, marinades, and outdoor greenery. Once the meal is planned out, bring the guests into your vision. They are smiling. They are excited to see you. Allow them time to greet you and truly connect. This simple greeting visual will set your mood for that evening. Lastly, see yourself flowing from one guest to another with ease and perfect timing. Take another deep breath and then slowly open your eyes. This can be done once or as many times as you wish. It can be done well in advance, or on the day of your BBQ.
2. Plan out your week or day on paper/smart phone/computer, taking your time.
Planning is the easiest part, when you think about it. Write down your menu. Jot down ingredients and supplier locations. Remember to list travel times for pick ups, and extra time needed for special orders.
Many websites allow you to plug in a meal menu and provide a preparation schedule for you to follow. This is invaluable with larger amounts of food. The day of the party, breakdown the prep into three segments:
- Clean/prepare venue
- Pickup/prepare foods and beverages
- Prepare yourself – do a mini visualization of how you wish the event of unfold.
3. Time of the party: Mindful Greetings
You are ready, whether your guests are not. Remember this. Knowing you can handle an event is half of the success. Mindfulness dictates that you are present, FULLY present, for each handshake, hug, hello, and eye contact. This is what makes your guests feel welcome and begins an enjoyable BBQ.
If you are rushing around, trying to hide behind last minute chores or preparations, your guests will feel misplaced. They will begin to fidget and the conversation may stall. If you are running behind at the final hour: leave something out. Don’t finish it and move on. What matters is your company, your guests. Smile. Smile for yourself not just for your guests!
Be grateful for what is. Take the compliments that guests offer to heart. Don’t shoo them away. Enjoy the centre of attention that being a host brings to you. Shine. Ask questions. Listen. Stop thinking of what remains to be done. You have pictured the event in your mind. You are ready to just be fully present. That is a gift for your guests. They will love your food, your company, and your BBQ. Holding mindfulness within guarantees effortless flow of energy from you out into the world.
If the party ventures into the wee hours of the night, you will be thankful for this special reserve. Many times, the guests take over the party and you may even be able to lounge and enjoy their interactions without directing them. If this happens, remember to smile. That is truly a successful BBQ!
Try the three tips on hosting a good outdoor party and let me know how it works for you. It works for me! I bet you will be a host that is glowing, energized, organized, and in bliss even late at night.
Monika Meulman is a certified aromatherapist and healer and has worked in complementary health for over 15 years. At Healing Muse, she does aromatherapy massage, foot treatments, body readings, intuitive healing treatments and reiki sessions. Monika is also the president of The Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists (cfacanada.com) and Founder of the Lakeshore Environmental Gardening Society. Follow her on Twitter.