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A Guide to a Simple Back-to-School BBQ


Written by
Anne Cole

August in the Pacific Northwest is something every local looks forward to in the anticipation of outdoor activities—especially dining alfresco. And with school starting up soon, what better way to celebrate the last blissful days of a Seattle summer than with a big barbecue with the family? Use this guide to maximize the products you can find right in your backyard and get inspiration for some fun, unfussy decor.



What’s more classic summer than red gingham or plaid? Add color and texture to your BBQ by using your favorite fabric to set the table. For simple centerpieces, use Mason jars as vases and fill them with bright sunflowers, or the flowers of your choice, from your local Eastside farmers’ market. Finish your tablescape with some complementary-colored paper plates. This easy setup allows for a beautiful dining environment at minimal cost and with minimal cleanup, perfect for a barbecue. 

Tip for kids: Make your barbecue kid-friendly by using picnic tables to seat everyone family-style. This will add to the rustic, summer vibe. 

Hors d’Oeuvres 

Keep it fresh with a few easy appetizers to tempt your taste buds. Try a caprese salad with basil and heirloom tomatoes from the Bellevue Farmers Market ( and mozzarella from DeLaurenti (, a specialty food and wine store in Seattle. You can never go wrong with a cheese and cracker plate, which appeals to all ages. Source your cheeses from DeLaurenti, and try Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps ( 

Tip for kids: Make some fun and colorful fruit kabobs for the kids to enjoy snacking on before dinner. Try slicing watermelon and using a star-shaped cookie cutter to make shapes. Then place the watermelon star on a skewer and put blueberries along the length to create a “firework.” 



Nothing screams summer more than grilling. Switch up the usual hamburgers and hot dogs for something more Pacific Northwest–inspired—local wild salmon. Source your fresh fish from the Gemini Fish Market ( in Issaquah. (Make sure to stop by the family-owned company’s seafood truck as well!) Grill the salmon to simple perfection by brushing it in olive oil, adding some salt and pepper, and garnishing it with lemon slices and some rosemary for a flavorful main course. 

Tip for kids: Give the kids the fun project of putting together their own kabobs, using an array of colorful, locally grown veggies, like bell peppers, purple onions, and zucchini. Gather your veggies from the Kirkland Wednesday Market (, and brush the kabobs with olive oil. Place them on the grill for the easiest preparation possible. 


Staying hydrated is vital at barbecues. Make sure to have plenty of both child- and adult-friendly beverages to keep all of your guests happy. For the adult crowd, a festive cocktail may be in order. Make a pitcher of watermelon lemonade with award-winning vodka from Glass Distillery (, which uses Washington-grown grapes to make its product, or whip up some delicious sangria. 

Tip for kids: For the kids, try homemade sparkling limeade! Made with fresh lime juice, sparkling water, organic honey and mint, topped with fresh, locally grown raspberries, this vibrant drink is sure to please. Try honey from Anna’s Honey in Tukwila ( 



Try baking your own delicious peach pie. With fairly simple ingredients, this yummy, seasonal treat is a guaranteed hit among guests. Purchase ripe peaches from Remlinger Farms ( This fun farm is a great place to bring your kids for a tour. The farm has freshly picked and frozen peaches available. If you don’t want to do your own baking, they have daily-made pies available as well. 

Tip for kids: For a more interactive dessert, create your own s’mores! Try a variety of different chocolates to make things interesting. This decadent and hands-on treat will be a favorite among guests of all ages!  

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