Never turn down a BBQ invitation!
So you’ve received a BBQ invitation in the mail. You like outdoor BBQ cooking. Now what? I think the proper protocol depends largely on where you live. In the South, being invited to a barbecue can be a big deal. Usually, these are casual affairs, but not always. I’ve attended some pretty swanky barbecues, and in fact, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were at one barbecue hubby and I attended.
When you get your BBQ invitation, check your calendar to see if you have any conflicts. If you decide you’re going to the event, give the host or hostess a call and let them know you’ll be attending. This will give him or her a good idea of how many guests to expect, and it will provide you with a chance to ask a few questions. You might want to know the dress code and whether or not kids will be attending. You might also want to find out if alcohol is permitted, and if so, is the party BYOB.
If the BBQ is a casual event and not catered, ask what you can bring. For many Southern barbecues, the hosts provide the meat and guests are often expected to bring the side dishes and desserts. Unless you’re close friends with the hostess, she’ll probably tell you that you don’t have to bring anything. Make the offer, anyway. Tell her you make great baked beans or potato salad or pound cake, for example. If you say you’re going to be there, be there! This is especially important if she’s counting on you to bring a dish. If something comes up that makes it impossible for you to attend the barbecue, call the hostess and let her know you can’t come.
In the South, getting a BBQ invitation is the mark of acceptance, especially when you’re not a native southerner. It’s like being told, “You’re one of us now!” Don’t brush off the BQ invitation lightly. Rubbing shoulders with the locals at a barbecue is a great way to make new friends and business contacts, and to network. Besides, real southern barbecue is awesome, and you’ll have a great time!