Neighborhood cookouts scream summer, and are totally fun. Because of that, it's no surprise that you may want to host them as often as possible, even every weekend if you could. But that introduces a new challenge - how do you keep your events fresh and interesting for your guests?

Multiple events allow you the opportunity to switch things up and make your individual get-togethers more special. So with that in mind, here's a list of five ways you can up your game and take your cookouts to the next level this year.

* Smoke your meat ... without the smoker. Not only is this possible, it's quite easy to do. Clean out a used metal can - the larger the better - and remove its label. Once the can is ready, fill it half full of wood chips - try apple wood for a more mild smokiness, or hickory for something a bit stronger. Cover the lid with foil and poke three to four holes, each about half an inch in size. Finally, place the can on your grill; you should start to see smoke rising from the holes in 10 minutes or less. Cook your meat around this can and keep the grill closed whenever possible to lock in that smoky flavor.

5 Ways To Up Your Summer Get-Together Game

* Refresh old classics. The cheeseburger is a summer event mainstay and one you don't need to sacrifice simply because you're trying to switch things up. Instead of abandoning the cheeseburger altogether, why not give it a distinctly new taste instead? Castello Burger Blue Cheese is conveniently sliced and made to melt on any burger. Its creamy and characteristically tangy notes of blue feature balanced sweet and salty undertones, making it a good match for everything from traditional beef burgers all the way to Portobello veggie burgers. And if crumbles are more your thing, the Castello Burger Blue Cheese Shaker will turn your traditional cheeseburger into a delicious crumble creation in no time. All you have to do is shake and enjoy.

* Theme your get-together. This one could mean different things to different groups, but determining the best theme for your guest list is half the fun. If your guests are well traveled, host an "around the world" party and ask each guest to bring a dish from a different country. Or try a nostalgic approach with a summer camp theme featuring rustic picnic spreads, a campfire and games. Find a theme that matches the interests of your group and everyone will be excited to jump on board.

* Change up the menu. A cookout can have a very unique feel - and taste - simply by altering the side dishes you offer. This is a wonderful opportunity to show off your creative side and replace those same-old sides with new flavors like macaroni with blue cheese with bacon or baked sweet potatoes loaded with pulled barbecue chicken and Castello Extra Mature Cheddar cheese. You can find these and many more recipes on Castello's website, so take the time to explore and discover the perfect solution to tantalize your guests' taste buds.

* Shift the timeline. Cookouts are generally seen as an afternoon event, but you can always switch things up by adjusting the timeline. Invite friends and family over for a brunch cookout to enjoy before spending the day at the beach or ball game. Think pancakes, bacon and eggs on the grill using a cast-iron skillet, fresh squeezed orange juice and frozen melon balls for cooling down. Mix it up and your group is sure to appreciate the change.


The sooner you plan, the sooner you can celebrate


No matter the theme, time or menu for your event, a little planning goes a long way, so don't delay. Your next-level summer get-together is just waiting for you to bring it to life, and once you finish your first cookout, there will be no stopping you from planning your second ... and third ... and ... more!

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