I've realized that most people, especially those with young children, really appreciate simple, good food. When you have people over, it doesn't need to be elaborate--large amounts of a few good dishes are all that's needed. Here's our standard cookout menu, which is always a hit with old and young!
Grilled meat with BBQ sauce (generally Cajun Chicken, but we add ribs for the patriotic bashes--4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day)*
Baked Beans (we use Bush's Best and do NOTHING else to them--everyone loves them)
Potato Salad (made the day ahead) OR
Green Salad OR
Easy Homemade Ice Cream
Everyone brings their favorite ice cream topping. The kids love it. The adults like it because it's good food and kid-friendly, so they don't have to worry too much about the kids. We like it because it's minimal effort.
*We use this rib rub, but leave out the cayenne (and use a different sauce). We do hamburgers sometimes, but for big crowds, grilled chicken is easier--you don't have to prepare a gazillion condiments. Just put out some BBQ sauce and you're good.