As soon as summer kicks into gear, grills heat up and backyard barbecue season begins on Long Island. And no matter what you’re grilling, throwing a successful cookout takes a little bit of planning and a willingness to let things get just a little bit loose and messy.

Professional party planners say that the easiest way to ensure your fete goes off without a hitch is to plan in advance, and get as much done ahead of time as possible. “Be available to your guests,” advises Liz Cordeiro, owner of Huntington-based design and event planning firm Liz Cordeiro Designs. She cautions hosts against being too busy cooking or prepping to spend time with guests. “Prepare food ahead so grilling time is minimal,” she says. “Parboil chicken or ribs, thaw hamburgers, hot dogs, have salads wrapped up in the fridge ready to be put out. And don’t invite so many people that you can’t spend quality time with each one. It’s not about the number of people that attend your barbecue. It’s about the quality time you’d like to spend with each one.”

For Tara Nawroth and Sara Green, owners of Sara Tara Events in Muttontown, it’s also great to allow guests to help themselves. “I always recommend placing a free-standing bar that’s accessible to all,” says Nawroth. “Refills should always be at arm’s reach.” She also urges hosts to overbuy on liquor and dessert, because you can never have too much of a good thing, and it’s no fun to run out of beer or soda in the middle of your party.

To accommodate younger attendees, Cordeiro encourages hosts to provide games and activities. “It’s very inexpensive to pick up balls, or a simple game from the drugstore,” she says. “You can even just get a box of chalk for them to go draw on the neighborhood sidewalks.”

Also, scour local shops for unusual decorations. Cordeiro recommends “any local retailer or drugstore such as Value Drugs, or general stores such as Southdown General Store,” both with a location in Huntington. “I love to shop locally, because they usually have access to fun smaller decorative items that big box stores don’t think to stock.”

It’s always a good idea to consider the community, too. “Be respectful of any close neighbors,” says Cordeiro. “Either invite them, or let them know ahead of time that you’re having people over, and give them an estimated time for your party to end.”

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Green says that’s it’s also a good idea to stock up on items that might be forgotten. “Keep a box of essentials that people always forget,” she says. “Stock it with extra sunscreen, towels, sunglasses, iPhone chargers and aspirin.”

Finally, make sure everyone — including you — remembers to have fun. “This is about the simple pleasure of enjoying the summer sun and the downtime with friends and family,” says Cordeiro. “We have such a short warm season here on the Island. We have to make every day and moment last as long as possible and enjoy every minute. That’s the best tip for throwing a barbecue.”