Fun and Creative Entertainment Ideas to Take Your Backyard BBQ to the Next Level

Fun and Creative Entertainment Ideas to Take Your Backyard BBQ to the Next Level

LucasPublished: May 15, 2024
Fun and Creative Entertainment Ideas to Take Your Backyard BBQ to the Next Level

The weather is warming up, and the days are getting longer, so you know it’s that time of year. There's nothing quite like a backyard barbecue to bring people together. While the sizzle and smell of the grill is undoubtedly the star of the show (depending on what you’re cooking up, of course), giving your backyard space a boost with some creative entertainment options can turn a simple cookout into an unforgettable experience for everyone.

Here are some of the best ideas to elevate your backyard BBQ with entertainment that complements the feast.

Set up an outdoor movie theater.

  • Setup Time: 20 minutes
  • Cost: $200 - $500

Set up a Backyard Movie with Friends

Nothing says summer like watching a movie under the stars. If you’ve never set up an outdoor movie theater to complement your backyard entertainment, then you’re missing out.

Setting up an outdoor movie theater is simpler than it sounds and can be a magical way to end a BBQ evening, especially if kids are involved.

Use a portable projector and a screen — a white sheet hung against a flat surface works, too — and arrange seating using outdoor cushions, bean bags, and chairs.

Host a mini sports tournament.

  • Setup Time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $10 - $50

Couples Playing Cornhole

Encourage a bit of friendly competition with a mini sports tournament. Of course, we say mini, but you can make it as complex and as big as you’d like.

Set up games that guests of all ages can enjoy, such as cornhole, bocce ball, or horseshoes. These games are not only fun but also allow your guests to work up an appetite or burn off some of those delicious BBQ calories. You can even consider a team-based game like kickball or softball if you have the space, but if you don’t, then maybe various teams for spades.

Here are some of our favorite games to play whenever we have guests over—

  • Cornhole. A classic game where players take turns throwing bean bags at a raised platform with a hole in it. It's easy to set up and fun for all ages.
  • Horseshoes. Players take turns throwing horseshoes at a stake in the ground, aiming to encircle the stake or land as close as possible. It’s great for pairs or teams.
  • Badminton. Set up a net and play either singles or doubles. It's an energetic game that gets everyone moving and can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels.
  • Bocce Ball. Players or teams take turns tossing bocce balls, trying to get them closest to a smaller target ball (the pallino). It’s a strategic game that works well on grass or sand.
  • Volleyball. A net, a ball, and some space are all you need for a spirited game of volleyball. It’s ideal for larger groups and can be played casually or competitively.
  • Ladder Toss. Players or teams take turns throwing bolas (two balls connected by a string) at a ladder-like structure, aiming to wrap them around the rungs for points. It’s simple to set up and fun for all ages.

Bonus idea: The winner could even get a fun, themed prize like a BBQ sauce set or a cookbook. 

Create a DIY s'mores bar.

  • Setup Time: 15 minutes
  • Cost: $10 - $20

A s'mores station can add a sweet touch to your BBQ, and everyone loves a good s’more.

Set up a small fire pit or a collection of tabletop burners, but we prefer a fire pit for the added ambiance.

Lay out graham crackers, various chocolates, and marshmallows.

For an extra twist, add some unique ingredients like peanut butter cups, flavored marshmallows, or different cookie types.

This not only serves as a dessert but also as an interactive activity that keeps guests entertained and mingling.

Implement a chill-out zone.

  • Setup Time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $50 - $100

While some guests may revel in games and activities, others might prefer a spot to relax and chat. We find that this idea is often overlooked, but ask around your guests and see what they think of this.

Designate a chill-out zone in your yard with comfortable seating like lounge chairs, hammocks, or a swing. After all, some people like to just take a break from social interaction.

Add some outdoor rugs, throw pillows, and string lights to create a cozy ambiance. A chill-out zone is perfect for those who want to enjoy their food and drink in a more laid-back setting.

Organize a live cooking demo.

  • Setup Time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $0 (if you’re already cooking)

Turn cooking into entertainment with a live demo.

If you’re skilled at the grill, share your techniques and tips with your guests. We’re not just talking about hanging out with the guys next to the grill. Actually, set it up and set a time to show everyone.

You could demonstrate how to make the perfect marinade or show the best way to grill various meats and vegetables.

This not only makes for a great learning experience but also stirs up interest in the BBQ food being served.

Include a music playlist or live band.

  • Setup Time: 15 minutes
  • Cost: $0 - $200

Music is essential for setting the mood, and there’s a good chance you’re already planning on playing your latest playlist through your Bluetooth speaker. However, this takes it a step further.

Set out an iPad (or similar) and let the crowd walk up and set the next song. It will be your friends and family that set the vibe of your BBQ, whether it’s upbeat and energetic or more laid-back and bluesy. In the end, they can’t complain about your taste in music.

If your budget allows, hiring a local band to play live music can upgrade your event from a simple gathering to a memorable festival. Most bands don’t need a ton of space and once you hire them, they know what to do from there.

Offer craft and cocktail stations.

  • Setup Time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $100 - $200

For an adult-focused BBQ, consider setting up a cocktail station where guests can mix their own drinks. We’re not just talking about your typical beers and wines; we’re talking about high-end and fun mixed drinks.

Offer a variety of spirits, mixers, and garnishes, and let your guests have fun creating their own concoctions. Include perfectly sized glasses for the drinks as well. Put out a drink list and how to make them just in case they’re stumped or don’t know how to make a specific kind of drink.

Pair this with a craft station where guests can make something simple like custom coasters or decorative aprons.

Not only do these stations provide entertainment, but they also give your guests a personalized item to take home.

Get the party started!

By incorporating one or more of these awesome entertainment ideas into your next backyard barbecue or event, you'll not only enhance the atmosphere but also create lasting memories for your guests, and that’s what it’s all about in the end.

A well-planned BBQ with engaging activities can make your backyard the place everyone wants to be this summer. The key is to go well beyond just cooking up some fine brisket; it’s to host and deliver an experience to your guests.

So fire up the grill, roll out the welcome mat, and get ready for a season of fun and festivity in your own outdoor space.



BBQ Master

Lucas holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Dallas Culinary Arts School, where he specialized in grilling techniques. He has spent over a decade in the culinary industry, working in high-end steakhouses and hosting popular BBQ events. His passion lies in experimenting with different grilling methods and sharing his knowledge with others. Lucas’ expertise ensures that every recipe he shares has been tested and perfected on the grill.