How to Host a Summer Party on a Tight Budget

Summer // Summer is one of the most idyllic times of the year. A season of air infused with the alluring scent of barbecue smoke wafting over neighbors’ fences and freshly mowed grass beneath your feet. As much fun as that sounds, though, the cost of making slaw, grilling burgers, and opening up coolers of beer for folks costs Americans billions of dollars each year. So here are some tips to pull off the party without breaking the bank.  

Farmers Markets

You know you’ve failed as a host when your guests get the vibe that you’re worried about the money you’ve spent on them. With that said, sometimes you do have to scrimp on expenses — just do it on the sly. Don’t stock your bar with top-shelf liqueurs or hire caterers to pass out cucumber slices dolloped with Benedictine. Instead, get smart about when (and how) to scope out a farmers market for fresh produce. 

For example, arrive at the farmers market 30 minutes before close to see what produce vendors still hope to sell. Or, show up the day of the party and check out the “less than perfect” goods discounted for immediate sale. While that doesn’t sound terribly appetizing, barbecuing up a shish-kebab of grilled veggies that were slightly bruised is still going to be delicious. Feel free to also look at food from local fisheries and hog farms. Keep in mind, though, people are perfectly content feasting on a fresh fruit tart or festive potato salad in a backyard picnic.

What’s to Drink?

Even if your guests pile their plates with hot dogs and coleslaw, they’re still going to want to drink. Those beverages don’t necessarily need to be alcoholic; your goal is to just make them refreshing. Keeping out moisture-beaded pitchers of lemonade is a must. And, yes, it’s tempting to set up a bar and pass out cocktails, but you go through bottles of liquor quickly making mixed drinks. If you’re on a budget, set out a giant carafe of sangria. That mostly involves mixing wine, sugar, brandy and cut-up wedges of oranges and apples that you purchased at the farmers market this morning.

Kid-Friendly Party Ideas

When people think about their childhood, the fun stuff they remember was usually free. If you have a pool, you’re already set. If not, let them dash through the sprinklers. Get into a water balloon fight. Play musical chairs or capture the flag. Look for craft activities everyone can enjoy like a patriotic candle jar or suncatcher with supplies you can find for just a few dollars at hobby stores.

Set out board games inside if some of the kids prefer being in the AC, and look into getting an inexpensive WiFi extender so you don’t run into any bandwidth or connectivity issues when the kids are trying to stream videos or their favorite music. Better yet, ask the kids for input and let them help set things up. Afterall, if they are in control of their activities, they can’t complain about being bored halfway through the festivities. Psychology Today notes that giving kids a say builds respect, invites cooperation, and develops problem-solving skills.

Yard Prep

Maybe the last touch-up before throwing this party is to do a bit of landscaping. Mow the lawn. Trim the hedges. Pull up weeds. Dig out a flowerbed and plant anything about to explode in vibrant blooms — this is another area to recruit your youngest partygoers’ assistance. If you don’t have tons of cash to spend on decor, you’ll at least be able to set the festivities amid the waxy leaves of a garden party.

You may take this opportunity to make more significant modifications to your yard. For example, installing a fence can add privacy, and you’ll worry less about kids and pets wandering out of your yard. This job typically takes two to four days. You can search online for a “fencing company near me,” or you can simply visit sites like Angi who offer detailed customer reviews on fencing companies. The cost of installing a fence will vary widely depending on where you live, the size of your property, and the quality of materials you’re using. 

Most importantly, don’t let a bare budget get you down. It’s not about spending hundreds of dollars on fireworks or serving the best beef in the city. Your summer party is about friends, family, and fun!

About the Author: 

Nicola Reid


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