Allow people to chip in
It’s perfectly appropriate to ask your guests to bring simple complements for a barbecue (dinner party etiquette is different)—a six-pack, a soccer ball, sparkling water, ice. Make sure that whatever you ask them to bring should be either something they likely have already on hand or can be easily picked up at the store for less than $10.
Plan a seasonal menu
Peaches, tomatoes, and corn are falling out of season at the end of the summer, so always take advantage of ripe produce while you still can. A farmer’s market, rather than a grocery store, will have the best seasonal crops for your area. I love tomatoes and peaches because they’re sweet, decadent, simple to prepare, and are vivid and playful. Corn is crisp and begs for toppings like cilantro, cayenne, and cotija. All of the above pair well with pork or dark-meat chicken with a simple garlic salt dry rub.
I love herb-heavy meals late in the summer—I grow thyme, basil, cilantro, and mint in my kitchen window, so I chop some stalks and lay them out on a board for the night. Pair these herbs with crusty bread, soft butter, tapenade, roasted pumpkin seeds, and guacamole. I also love to use mint for dessert—try it on top of vanilla ice cream with warm salted caramel and grilled peaches.