Hosting a backyard barbecue can be stressful for anyone, but chronic pain makes it especially difficult to manage. After all, as the host you have to worry about menu planning, shopping for supplies, preparing the food, and getting your home into a presentable state — and that’s before the guests even arrive! More work awaits you during and even during the party when it’s time to clean up.
Fortunately, there are ways to make hosting a more pleasant experience. Start with these simple steps for a pain-free summer BBQ:
Keep It Simple
When you’re planning your party, be realistic. Cooking five kinds of meat and a table full of side dishes may sound like a good idea, but it’s a lot of work, and you may not feel up to it on the day of the party. Keep your menu simple, with dishes that require little prep work or can be prepared ahead of time, and pace yourself.
You should also look for shortcuts to make your life easier. For instance, instead of breaking out the glasses, silverware, and plates from your kitchen cupboards, buy disposable ones. You can even swap out your regular baking pans and serving dishes with foil pans and plastic platters.
Waiting until the last minute to shop, cook, and set up is never a great idea. Given the close relationship between stress and pain, procrastination can be particularly devastating when you suffer from chronic pain. Lack of sleep is another common pain trigger, and it too goes hand-in-hand with procrastination.
To keep things more manageable, break your to-do list into smaller steps. Complete at least one task per day in the week leading up to the BBQ. If something can be done ahead of time, do it as early as possible. The less you have to worry about the day of, the better off you will be.
Let Others Help
Don’t feel like you need to do it all yourself. Most guests will offer to help; don’t let your pride turn them down. If someone asks whether they can bring anything, suggest they bring a side or some drinks — whatever will make your life easier. Need more help? Ask for it! You can even make the entire event a potluck, providing only the meat and drinks yourself and asking guests to bring side dishes.
Similarly, don’t turn down help with setting up before the party or cleaning up afterward. Often a few guests will show up early or stay late to help. When guests ask if there is anything they can do to help, it’s easy to brush them off with, “No, I think I’ve got everything covered.” Let your friends and family lighten your load by assigning tasks when they offer their help.
In all the hustle and bustle of planning, don’t forget to enjoy the party! Hosting a summer party can actually benefit you and reduce the impact of chronic pain. Connecting with close friends and family can boost your mood and improve your health, so making time for them is important. If you plan ahead, accept help, and keep things simple, you can host a summer BBQ that’s fun for you and everyone else.