WHEN the hard work of making your garden gorgeous is complete, it’s time to share it with your friends and neighbours.

And what better way to celebrate than a barbecue.

The word ‘stress’ comes to mind for some people – a barbecue can seem like very hard work for little reward. And can you rely on the weather?

Don’t let either of these put you off. A barbecue can be successful with a bit of planning and organisation.

First things first – watch the weather forecast. 

The day before the party, mow the lawn, weed the garden, check that you have enough garden furniture for everyone – give the children blankets to sit on or ask your guests to bring their own folding chairs.

Make sure you have some candles or lamps in case the party moves into the late evening.

Many people want to keep the work involved in organising a summer barbecue to a minimum, but remember many hands make work light. 

Using cheap plastic bowls and plates may cut the washing-up, but think green and use your own plates and cutlery. 

Many off-licences and supermarkets also offer a glass hire service which is a good alternative to plastic glasses.

Make sure you have enough charcoal and firelighters for your barbie – and of course matches or a lighter – or if it’s a gas one, a full bottle and even a spare. Make sure the barbie is clean, too!

The main message is to keep the party food simple – complicated recipes you’ve never tried before are bound to end in disaster. 

If they are the sort of friends who don’t like coming to your house empty-handed, encourage them to bring their favourite barbecue dish.

You can provide the basics – salads, breads and rolls, pasta and potatoes, nibbles, relishes and maybe special main dishes, such as pork or salmon steaks.

Prepare as much as you can in advance and store it in the refrigerator. 

Barbecue food is best when marinaded in sauces overnight. 

Jerk pork, tandoori chicken, lamb kebabs, steak in black bean sauce can all be ready and waiting for those glowing coals.

It’s important to wash hands before touching food and after touching raw ingredients. 

Always use clean chopping boards, knives and utensils and ensure work surfaces are cleaned after use. 

To avoid cross contamination keep ready-to-eat foods, such as salads, separate from raw meat and poultry. 

Don’t forget to add any fruit or vegetable peelings, uncooked fruit or vegetables leftovers to your compost bin to make your garden bloom next year. 

Do not let raw food touch or drip onto cooked food when adding food to the barbecue and always separate utensils. 

It is advisable to cover foods in order to protect from insects and pests. 

Don’t forget some simple puddings like bananas in their skins – you just need to wrap them in foil and pop them on the barbie when the main cooking is done.

These served with some simple vanilla ice-cream makes a great sweet for everyone from kids to grannies.

Remember, if the worst happens and rain stops play –  don’t despair just cook the food in the oven or grill – and get the indoor games out.