With the month of July come the Dog Days of Summer and endless opportunities for backyard BBQ’s and cookouts.  Sometimes the costs for these get togethers can rise quickly, particularly if you’re hosting the party. To keep things under control and well within a budget, look for for ways to minimize spending while maximizing the possibilities for fun. Read through our tips for hosting a thrifty summer bash and plan yours today.

Find Frugal Food Options

Food can often be the largest expense for a dinner party. Make it easier on yourself and try one of these money saving ideas instead:

  • Shish kabobs – Rather than grilling a steak or chicken breast per person, cut it into smaller pieces and add vegetables. You can cut back on the amount of meat needed by at least 1/3.
  • Tacos – Tacos are another way to make every ingredient stretch a little further. Instead of ground beef, though why not try this pulled pork recipe from The Kitchn? You are sure to impress your guests without breaking the bank.
  • Grilled Pizza – Even when it’s warm outside, a gourmet pizza can really hit the spot. Plus, pizza is a notoriously inexpensive crowd pleaser. Take it outside on the grill and give one of these easy recipes a try.
  • Potluck – This tried and true method of getting food to a party never disappoints. Ask each person to bring an item to share and just enjoy what turns up. It’s amazing how varied the dishes can be, even without additional guidance on what to bring.

Do “Easy” Drinks

Wine, beer, or mixed drinks are a wonderful addition to a dinner party. But don’t feel obligated to provide everyone an abundance of each.

  • Liquor – Find a recipe for a two-ingredient cocktail (like a Cape Codder) and just make a couple of pitchers of it. 
  • Beer – Check with your local pub to see if they have happy hour specials on beer growlers. If not, just pick up a couple of your favorites, serve them in sample sizes and have guests “rate” them.
  • Wine –  Try a boxed wine, which continue to grow in popularity. If you prefer the bottled versions, check online retailers like Wine.com for sales and clearance offerings. You’ll be surprised how much you can save by ordering.
  • Other – Lemonade, iced tea and flavored water are always refreshing on a summer. You can certainly skip the alcohol altogether and still provide your guests with a wonderful summer beverage to compliment the food.

Free Entertainment

Sure, having a live band would be welcomed at most get togethers. However, there are plenty of other ways to keep your guests engaged that don’t cost a dime.

  • Lawn games – Bocce ball, croquet, and horseshoes are a delightfully old-fashioned way to liven up a party. Ask neighbors or family for the supplies and print off a run down of the rules for each game.
  • Celebrity – This new take on Charades is a sure way to get people laughing and start conversations. If you haven’t played it before, check out the description here.
  • Karaoke  – Someone you know has a Karaoke machine, and they will let  you borrow it. The bigger question is: can you get your guest to do it? Do some research on guilty pleasure hits and duets, and you will be amazed at the secret performers hidden amongst your crowd.

Keep It Simple

While Pinterest can be a wonderful resource, it can also overwhelm you right out of planning a party. Don’t let that happen. Keep the focus on your guests and getting together and remember:

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”
― Groucho Marx