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A Few Tips for Creating a Fabulous Fourth of July BBQ

Here are a few tips for a great Independence Day barbecue.

Bring Something Memorable

Plan on attending a BBQ on the fourth? Here are four guaranteed ways to be a hit at the BBQ and maybe get a few pats on the back:

1. Bring an iPod playlist with nothing but 80’s hits. It doesn’t matter what genre of 80’s—whatever you were into at the time: rock, hip hop, R&B, pop, it’s all good. You’re guaranteed to get people singing, laughing and dancing.

2. Bring a folding card table and either a deck of cards or Dominos. But keep in mind, you should actually know how to play at least one card game or Dominos. Table sports are always a lot of fun.

3. Bring a Polaroid camera, take action pictures of people and give them away. Not everyone loves getting their picture taken, but they seem to mind if it’s a Polaroid (you’re supposed to look crazy in a Polaroid). Polaroid pictures make people smile and they work as the ideal pin-up on the fridge or at work.

Choose Wisely Your BBQ Sauce

For many people, grilling is a serious art form and that includes your choice of BBQ sauce. Here is a top three list of sauces that will give you the best bang for your buck:

1. Bull's Eye, $3 for an 18 oz. With its blend of acidity, smokiness, heat and dollop of molasses (although some find it a bit too sweet), Bull's Eye is probably one of the best vinegar-based BBQ sauces. The natural smoke flavor ties in well with the molasses scent, followed by hints of onions and garlic.

2. Sauced: Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory and Brown Sugar, $3.49 for 18 oz. Taking on a different set of flavors than the original, this sauce still preforms on the same consistent level that makes Sweet Baby Ray's so popular. The flavors are bold, but balanced, and it works great out of the jar and as a baste on the grill. Although I prefer the more standard barbecue sauce taste of the original, Hickory & Brown Sugar is a pleasing smoke-based sauce and will instantly give anything it touches a nice smokiness.

3. Trader Joe's Bold & Smoky, $3. For the 16 oz. If you love the sweet/bold/smokiness of Bull's Eye BBQ sauce, with some additional onion and spice flavors added, you’ll love Trader Joe’s Bold and Smoky Kansas City style BBQ Sauce, especially its balance of tangy and sweet.

Bring Food Items That People Typically Forget

To follow are a list of food items that people love to see at barbecues, but that people somehow seem to forget to bring:

1. Corn on the cob. Buy a dozen ears for a few dollars. Make a special butter garlic spread (from minced garlic and butter), rub over cleaned and dry ears of corn, then wrap each corn individually in aluminum foil. Bring them ready to throw on a grill.

2. A green salad. There will be potato salad. There will be macaroni salad. But almost no one remembers a simple green salad. To make it even easier for yourself, buy a big bag of fresh spinach. Wash, add sweet grapes, sliced almonds and a little poppyseed dressing.

3. Hand sanitizer. Place a big bottle of hand sanitizer on the table or someplace highly visible and accessible. Everyone will use it. And call you "brilliant."

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