Memorial Day is fast approaching, and if you’re planning to host a festive backyard barbecue, now is the time to start preparing.

Not only will starting early ensure your guests are well-fed and entertained, but it can help minimize stress, ease clean-up, and make the entire event more successful on the whole.

Are you planning a backyard get-together this Memorial Day? Here’s how to start getting ready today

Get the yard ready.

This means mowing, weeding, trimming, and the whole nine yards. You want your lawn clean, clear, and free of debris and pests before your loved ones come calling. If you’ll need to treat for bugs or weeds, make sure to do it at least a week or two out, so it doesn’t pose a hazard to your guests. You should also allow time for any lawn clippings to settle back into the grass or blow away.

Make sure there’s enough seating.

You want your guests comfortable, so make sure you’ve got enough seating to go around. A mix of lawn chairs, picnic tables, or even tailgating chairs is fine, but if you’re still short on seats, consider renting a couple of tables from an event company in the area. This will ensure everyone can take a load off when they need to.

Invest in a few umbrellas, tents, and shades.

If your event will be in the heat of the day, then shading your guests from the glaring sun is crucial. Large-size tailgating tents/canopies, patio umbrellas and pull-down patio shades are all options. Be sure you make sunscreen super accessible, too.

Grab a few coolers and trash bins.

Put coolers near the door and interspersed throughout the seating areas. Make sure they’re filled with plenty of drinks — especially water — for your guests to stay hydrated on. You should also station a few trash bins throughout the yard to keep waste at bay (and make clean-up more convenient).

Prep your pool.

If you have a pool in the yard, then you’ll need to tend to that, too. Clean the water, stock up on beach towels and lounge chairs, and invest in a few noodles and floats that cater to all ages. If little ones will be attending, arm floaties and life vests could also be helpful.

Set up a few activities.

You don’t have to go all-out and plan an hour-by-hour schedule, but give your guests a few different activities to choose from. Maybe set out a cornhole set or giant Jenga, create a horseshoe pit near the back fence and put a few packs of playing cards on each table.

Keep things clean.

BBQ food is notoriously messy, so make cleaning supplies like napkins, moist towelettes, paper towels, and even hand sanitizer abundant and easily accessible. You can use a small lazy susan on each table to put all these items easily into reach, along with salt, pepper, ketchup, and other condiments.

Line up extra grills.

If you only have one BBQ grill and you’re inviting the whole block, you may need to line up a few extras from neighbors if you want to feed the entire party. You can also purchase a few cheap charcoal grills to help supplement your larger gas grill if you have the funds. Once you’ve determined how many grills you’ll have, make sure to set off a specific grilling area in the yard and outfit it with plenty of grilling tools, a prep station, tongs, and more. You should also clean the grills and stock up on charcoal, propane, and seasonings.

Jazz it up a bit.

Want a real party ambiance? Then install speakers outdoors (or just rent a karaoke machine) and string lights on your patio and above seating areas. The music will help fill lulls in conversation, as well as get people dancing, while the lights will keep things going all night long. If you really want to go all-in, create a custom playlist to put on during the party using Spotify or Pandora.

Create a kid zone.

If little ones are invited to the festivities, make sure to give them a space of their own. This not only keeps them away from the dangerous grill areas, but it also gives parents somewhat of a break to sit back and enjoy the party. You can put out sidewalk chalk, hula hoops, bubbles, hopscotch, or board games. You might even consider hiring a clown or magician for a little kid-friendly entertainment.

Happy Memorial Day!

Are you a military member or veteran? If so, Embrace Home Loans would like to extend our deepest gratitude to you. If your family is ever in need of a VA loan to purchase or refinance a home, we would be happy to assist you. Just contact an Embrace loan officer to get started.