How To Throw A Quickie Fourth Of July BBQ

While many of us are veterans in the entertaining department, there are some newbies out there. For newlyweds, college grads, and new home owners alike, this summer serves as a perfect opportunity for first-time hosting. 

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, many are planning to host a backyard bash, and whether large or small, intimate or crazed, most could use a few pointers. Kraft has been aiding families around the world in the kitchen for years. Their products have likely scattered your kitchen at some point in your life, from first-time parents packing school lunches to those planning a great first-date meal. For the holidays, they have you covered as well.

Here are a few tips from Robin Ross, associate director of Kraft Kitchens, for how to make the most of this year's Fourth:

• Fire Up the Grill: Make sure the grill is clean before you start cooking. According to a national Kraft Singles survey, people dread cleaning the grill more than cleaning the toilet. But Ross says it shouldn't be a chore. Just heat the grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes to burn off leftover food debris, then brush grates clean with a steel bristle brush. 

• Propose a Pitch-In: Tell guests to bring their favorite grilling meat, specialty side dish, or a festive dessert. Sharing a family favorite with friends is fun and will help the host save time, money, and storage space.

• Two-Step Shopping: The weekend prior, go shopping for non-perishable items. A day or two before the party, purchase the remaining items. This will save time during the week and reduce clutter in the fridge.

• Chop and Go: Chop fruit and veggies a day before the party and store in resealable plastic bags. The day of the party, simply arrange the fruit and salad in festive bowls.
• Cheese, Cheese, Cheese: Cheese is a must for parties. It's tasty and versatile — use it for an ooey, gooey appetizer, a quick snack with crackers, and as a delicious topping for burgers, hot dogs, or chicken. 

• Meaty Marinade: Over the weekend, marinade meat with ready-made salad dressing in a resealable plastic bag and place it in the freezer. A day before the party, defrost the meat in the bag in the refrigerator. Discard the marinade after placing the meat on the grill. The meat will be extra flavorful and juicy. 

• Make-Ahead Salads: Prepare salads (potato, pasta, coleslaw, etc.) one to two days before the party. Not only will the flavors have time to develop better, but it's also one less step on the day of the party. Give a quick toss before serving. 

• Sweet Treats: Impress guests by making homemade ice cream sandwiches. Use store-bought cookies and fill with ice cream. Wrap them individually and place in the freezer over the weekend. On the day of the party, you'll have a decadent dessert ready to go.