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Five Tips for Planning the Perfect Late-Autumn Cookout

Even though the weather is getting colder as we move into fall, there is still time to get together with family and friends for one last late-autumn cookout. However, because of seasonal availability, menu items may have to be adjusted in the fall, and there are a few other things to consider as well due to the colder weather. Here are five tips for planning the perfect late-autumn cookout:

Keep the Menu Simple

The simpler you keep things, the easier the setup will be going forward. Many of the foods typically served at summer cookouts, like corn on the cob and watermelon, may not be available in the fall. Because of this, try to keep the menu as simple as possible. Consider having just two meat choices, like chicken hot dogs and beef hamburgers, along with a couple of vegan alternatives, salad, and dessert.

Don’t be afraid to say yes when guests ask if they can bring a dish, as this will make things easier for you. You could even make the cookout potluck. Alternatively, consider winter-friendly barbecue recipes for a cookout go-to for everyone to enjoy.

Even though it’s getting chillier outside, most people still prefer cold drinks.  Keep plenty of canned beverages stocked in hard sided coolers with ice.  While sitting next to a warm fire with friends, drinking a cold one is a great way to cap off a late-autumn cookout. Just make sure to have a designated driver if that cold one happens to be alcoholic.

Schedule a Rain Date

Even though weather forecasting in the internet age has made planning activities a lot easier, a weather system can still sometimes come out of nowhere. If the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse on the day or your cookout, having a rain day already coordinated will save you from having to reschedule with all your guests.

Make it Kid Friendly

Unless it’s an adults-only event, be sure to make plans for any children who may attend. Make smaller portions for the younger cookout guests, and be sure to have plenty of soft drinks on hand for them. Keep bandages, wet wipes, and similar products on hand in case of a bump or scrape. Have some toys available to keep them occupied when they start getting fidgety. A whiffle ball and bat is always a good idea so the adults can join in too. Don’t forget s’mores are still a big hit with the kids.

Make Your Guest Comfortable

Be sure to have comfortable places for everyone to sit to encourage guests to hang around after eating. If all you have are lawn chairs, just adding some pillows will make a huge difference. Also, because of the cooler temperatures, be sure to have a few coats, jackets, and even blankets handy. A portable propane or kerosene heater is available for rent by most retailers at very reasonable daily rates.

Make Cleanup Easy

To help you get things cleaned up as fast as possible after the party, stick with disposable or recyclable paper and plastic products as much as possible. While it might not seem like the most sustainable option, many party supply companies offer eco-friendly disposables for consumers to use. Made from recycled materials, these products make cleanup easy without any guilt.


Keep these five tips for planning the perfect late-autumn cookout. What might be the last time you eat outside with family and friends this year will be enjoyable and memorable enough to carry you through the long winter months ahead. Then, when the snow melts and green returns, it’ll be time to enjoy outdoor cooking once again.

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