A Guide to Hosting a BBQ for Over 100 People

Special occasion barbecues can have guest lists that top 100. Because most backyard grilling is carried out for significantly smaller groups, it can be difficult for even the most seasoned outdoor chef to provide food and entertainment to such a massive crowd. Luckily, there are some simple tips and tricks that can be considered. These tips can make any large-scale affair feel like an intimate, easily implemented gathering.

Arranging the Space

Few backyards can hold 100 guests comfortably. Barbecues of this scale are better handled at local parks and other outdoor venues. Even with adequate space reserved, make sure that there are enough seating locations for all. For a casual gathering, some individuals may be comfortable seated on blankets on the lawn.

When considering the space and seating requirements, do not forget to think about those guests who may have special needs. This can be anyone who may have difficulty walking or standing for long periods, including pregnant women and the elderly.

If young children are invited to the BBQ, make sure the space is safe and enclosed. If this is not possible, make the parents of these children aware of the limitations of the location.

Entertaining the Masses

With crowds of 100 or more, entertainment is usually self-made. Most guests will spend much of the BBQ eating and chatting, with no hope or desire of finding other ways to occupy their time. Still, it can be worthwhile to invest some time and energy into supplying entertainment in case the vitality of the BBQ wanes.

The type of entertainment provided must match closely with the occasion. Independence Day barbecues are popular, and commonly include the presence of fireworks, if local laws allow their use. Providing a location near a beach or swimming pool is also popular, as are lawn games like sand volleyball and croquet.

For younger crowds, consider renting a bounce house. These are a great deal of fun for most children and can keep them happily entertained for a small expense.

Food Service

Those who love to BBQ may balk at the idea of hiring a service to provide the food for their guests. However, when the guest list tops 100, it may be necessary to consider ordering dishes from a caterer, deli, or restaurant. Many outdoor chefs instead choose to create the main dish themselves while their guests look on. These dishes can be supplemented with sides that have been purchased elsewhere.

If the BBQ will be catered or self-cooked, it is important to make sure that the right amount of food is available. Nothing is worse than a BBQ without enough food to go around. Once a menu has been decided upon, the amounts of food must be calculated to ensure plenty of food for guests without having too many leftovers once the party is complete.

As a general rule, plan eight ounces of meat for each guests. Plan to make or purchase three to four side dishes, allowing four ounces of each side per person. Guests will also want to dessert, so make sure that each guest has the option for at least four ounces of dessert once the BBQ winds down.

Drinks are another issue altogether. If alcoholic drinks are to be served, plan for two glasses of wine or beer per person. Also make sure to have plenty of water, iced tea, lemonade, or other drinks on hand. Though two glasses each are the most often suggested, it is wise to have more for, particularly if the BBQ is overly spicy.

Clean Up

Lastly, do not forget that once the guests have left, someone still needs to clean up. This is another time that it is okay to hire professional help. The BBQ host or hostess will likely be far too exhausted by the end of the day to be able to clean up effectively. Try to hire cater waiters that will double as clean-up staff.


  1. Big Daddy Tug says

    Nice article Jason, very well written. As someone who often caters to groups of 100 more, I agree that it’s always good to know your own limitations. Know what you can do and when to call in the cavalry.

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