Group of friends gathered around table of food, outdoors

Source: Jim Arbogast / Getty

You don’t have to burn in the kitchen to come through with a kick ass┬ácontribution for a barbecue or picnic. Some of the best items you can bring won’t require seasoning, tons of cash or even much prep time.

Here are five tips to instantly become your host’s favorite guest. Read and learn.

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Bring a signature punch.

Got a little mixed drink situation that folks rave about? Whip up a batch for the event. Don’t go too heavy on the liquor, ’cause some folks…. Also make sure to ask your host if it’s cool ahead of time in case there are additional concerns you’re not aware of.

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Games for the crew.

Ever been at a barbecue where someone asks about playing Spades and then there’s a mad dash to find a deck? Prevent the scramble by letting the host know you’re the game committee. Make sure that you have enough options to engage at least 10 people (two decks of cards, Taboo, etc…). The goal is to ensure most folks who want to participate can, and anyone sitting around looking bored is doing so by choice.

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Supplies for the food table.

Hosts inevitably need extra paper plates and cups, utensils, napkins and ice. Volunteer to bring extras. And, if you’re driving, add some additional back-ups in your trunk, so if the party really gets popping you can re-up without missing a beat and save the day.

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Gift for the host.

You’d be surprised how many people forget to bless the event organizer with a thanks, much less an actual token of appreciation. If the event is guaranteed to be well attended and stocked, gift your host with something that is just for them (think a favorite bottle of wine or a new book) that will be a treat after the shindig is over.

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A bit of sweat equity.

Tell your host you’d like to lend a hand to help make the set-up a little less stressful. Volunteer to come an hour or so before things are set to kick off and lay out chairs, prep the table and make last minute store runs. Your time will be much appreciated.