Party for 12? Here's how to host a down-to-earth grill-and-chill.

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Food and products for backyard barbecue party
Credit: David Meredith

New York City event planner David Stark, the author of The Art of the Party, is best known for producing grand yet playful galas. At home he brings plenty of delight to relaxed gatherings of a dozen or so friends while keeping the menu classic and unfussy. “Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob,” says Stark. “The second you start doing things that are too involved, you become the caterer, not the host.” Here are his essentials for a better-than-basic grill-and-chill.