This article was originally published on BLAC Detroit.

Family gatherings are the foundation of many Black families. They’re full of love, laughter and plenty of good food.

With the weather finally breaking and post-pandemic life starting, I’m most excited to reconnect with my family and friends at all the park and backyard barbecues. 

The COVID-19 pandemic left many of us relearning how to function in society, so let’s go over some backyard barbecue etiquette, just in case you forgot.

When you arrive to the function, speak to everyone


This first rule is actually universal for any party or gathering, and quite possibly the most important one. A general hello will suffice for most, but if the family’s matriarch is present, always give her an individual greeting. This may seem small to some, but a failure to speak to those already present might get you labeled “disrespectful” and a stern phone call from someone about it in the days after. 

Stick with a tried-and-true recipe

Let’s be real, seeing everyone is great, but we all know the food is the most important part of a barbecue. You go with the expectation of your grandma’s macaroni and cheese, your aunt’s baked beans and to watch your dad and uncles fight over the grill (while wearing THE sandals). Being allowed to bring a dish to a family gathering is a badge of honor not to be taken lightly. It is the invisible stripe that shows the rest of your family your role has been elevated. 

So unless you are a master chef, please don’t bring something you’ve never cooked before. We do not want to be the test dummies for a new recipe you saw on TikTok or Buzzfeed, we are coming for guaranteed good food. If the pressure is too much, just bring plates, cups or ice.

Don’t sit down at the table if you can’t play Spades

Nothing gets more intense than a Spades game after drinks have been flowing and crap-talking has commenced. It’s a universal card game that comes with bragging rights and hurt feelings. The energy around the game is both hilarious and contagious and almost everyone wants a piece of the action. 

However, understand no one is going to teach you how to play at a barbecue or any other event (maybe even ever). Learning to play Spades is like a baby learning to crawl: one day you just wake up knowing how to do it. We don’t want to dash your hopes of participating in the Rise and Fly table dance. Just consider this a warning, because if you renege once, it’s your label forever. Don’t even get me started on Dominoes.

If you’re not there for good time, don’t come

The vibes of a good barbecue are unmatched. The atmosphere can transform complete strangers into family by the end of the function. People come for a good time, and through the music, the laughs and the food, a good time is guaranteed. Energy is always matched and no one likes to be around a cloud of negativity when they’re just trying to have a good time. 

If we have learned anything from the last year, it’s how precious and valuable time with our family and friends is. Keep that at the forefront of your thoughts as you park your foldable chair in the backyard.

Credit: Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

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