A Great Summer Outdoor Party on a Budget

You don’t need to break the bank to throw a wow-worthy outdoor party – its simple backyard economics, the less you spend on entertaining the more you can entertain. So whether you are having an outdoor party for a few neighbors or the whole neighborhood, here are 15 tips to help keep you on budget and entertaining all summer long.

  • Don’t buy invitations – send an email or call your guests, it’s more personal and costs nothing.
  • You don’t need to drop a bundle on the main course. The old standbys like hot dogs and hamburgers are budget friendly and can easily be dressed up. Remember stuff them, top them or steep them – stuff them with flavorful combinations like onions or bleu cheese, top them with sautéed onions, peppers or mushrooms or steep them overnight in your favorite marinade.
  • Serve personal pizzas – they are an entree that doesn’t generally require a side dish, with only a few ingredients can be customized to your guest list and with a little planning can cost less than a few dollars a pie.
  • Save some dough by serving bread before or during the meal – carbs are inexpensive and guests will feel full and satisfied without huge servings.
  • Don’t use disposable serveware, it’s not eco-friendly and over the course of a summer the costs can add up. Invest in some durable melamine  and tea towels or cloth napkins, it will pay off in the long run and can bring some real economic style to your tablescape.
  • Always preheat your grill, but don’t waste fuel by letting it heat for a long period – a gas grill can reach 350-400 within 10-15 minutes. If you are using charcoal grill can get a handy surface thermometer to know when it’s at the perfect temperature. Make sure to turn off the propane supply at the tank to prevent leaks from wasting fuel while the grill is not in use.
  • If it’s hot then its a good idea to get hold of an outdoor misting fan which do a great job of lowering the temperature to bearable levels
  • Careful not to waste money by burning meat – always keep a spray bottle of clean water nearby to stop flare ups that can blacken a good steak and use a quality thermometer to make sure it is done just right.
  • Care for your grill – clean it after each use and keep the grate well oiled, with only a little regular TLC it will last you many a summer party.
  • Use only as good of meat cut as necessary – for example, if you are serving steak salads (a warm weather favorite), don’t spring for rib-eye use a shoulder tender, still a good cut of meat but at half the price of the marquee cuts.
  • Make sure your outdoor entertaining is well lit, but use solar lights whenever practical – there are infinite solar options and they will save you money on the utility bills.
  • Use a stylish beverage dispenser with fresh water (flavored with lemon) to avoid the expense of bottled water – often guests lose track of their bottle and open another creating waste and expense.
  • Buy in bulk – especially for veggies – buying prewashed, precut is convenient but pricey. Better yet grow your own, don’t need a lot of space – the average tomato plant can yield 10 lbs, a cucumber plant about 15 cucumbers.
  • If there’s something you don’t have, like stemware or food service, barrow from a friend or make them a co-host.
  • Simple touches can make a party great without costing you much – dress up serveware with lettuce leaves or fruit garnishes, make an ice bucket or create a centerpiece with clippings from your flower bed arranged in a couple mason jars.

The more you save, the more you can party. Follow these tips and you can entertain outdoors all summer long.

If you have other ways to make a party special and keep it in budget, we would love to hear – leave me a comment.

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