May is National Barbecue Month and the perfect time to fire up the grill. As the weather gets warmer by the day, take advantage of the higher temps by trying out new recipes or organizing a potluck! No matter how you choose to celebrate, I urge you to spend time outdoors grilling, dining, and having fun with friends and family: I know I will. Try out these ways to celebrate National Barbecue Month.

Go Potluck

Gather friends and family for a potluck supper. Ask attendees to bring a dish to share to create a feast of main dishes, sides, salads, and desserts. As the host, you’re in charge of the grilling. If you’re on a budget, stick with more inexpensive meats like hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken and vegetable kebabs. If your budget is a little larger, grill up some pork tenderloin, baby back ribs, or swordfish.

Have a Cook-Off

If you don’t mind a little competition, throw a barbecue cook-off in your own backyard. Challenge friends or family to see who can make the best burger, steak, or other dish of your choosing. Hosting a barbecue cook-off is also a great way to raise money for nonprofit organizations in your city. Ask people in your community to participate in the fundraising event, find a few judges, and award prizes to the winners.

Try New Recipes

The start of the grilling season is the perfect time to try new recipes. Meat isn’t the only thing you can heat up on the barbecue. Clean and chop some fresh vegetables from the garden, grill them over medium heat until tender, and drizzle with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. You can even cook desserts on the grill. For a sweet, healthy treat, cut a peach in half and top it with blueberries, butter, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Tightly seal it in foil and grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.

DIY Your Grill

If your old barbecue grill needs an update, consider building your own. From simple barbecue pits powered by hot coals to fully-equipped outdoor kitchens, there are many options when it comes to do-it-yourself barbecues. For a long-lasting, durable barbecue, consider a brick grill. This type of structure features three sides of bricks with one open side. Extra bricks on each side are used to hold the grill rack.

Make Barbecue Sauce

If you really want to enhance your barbeque experience, ditch the bottled stuff for a homemade sauce. You only need a few basic ingredients for barbecue sauce, including ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar or honey. You can then jazz it up with salt, garlic powder, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and other ingredients to add flavor.

Get a Clean Start

After a long winter, your barbecue grill may be covered in dust, grease, and smoke residue. Start by disconnecting the propane tank and soaking the grates in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Loosely cover the heating elements with foil and use a grill brush to scrub the underside of the hood and inside walls. Rinse the grates of all soap, and replace the grates and propane tank. Once it’s clean, you’re ready to barbecue.