There’s no better time than summer to get together with friends and family. This season presents plenty of opportunities for entertaining, whether you’re hosting a Labor Day picnic or having a lazy barbecue.
Unfortunately, entertaining can be expensive, and you don’t want to bust your budget — especially if you have people over on a regular basis.
The good news is there are inexpensive ways to have fun. We checked in with some experts to get the tips you need to throw a summer bash on a budget.
1. Pick a free or cheap venue
During the warm summer months, you can throw events without spending a fortune to rent a location. In fact, there’s no reason to spend much or even any money on a place to party.
“Pick a free venue,” recommended Jill Caponera, a consumer savings expert with Promocodes.com. “Host your gathering at your local park, public lakes, or beaches for a virtually free backdrop that boasts natural beauty and room to spread out. Bring a few blankets, a cooler for homemade food and drinks, a portable speaker, and you’re all set.”
You can even entertain in your own backyard. If you don’t have a ton of outdoor furniture, plastic chairs you can stack in the garage are affordable and can be used again and again. Check Craigslist, local thrift stores, and consignment shops to find inexpensive outdoor furnishings, or keep things simple and lay out blankets so guests can eat picnic-style.
2. Get creative with games and activities
When you throw a party in the summer, you want to keep guests entertained. That also can be done on a tight budget.
In fact, you can provide virtually free entertainment by hosting an outdoor movie night. “DIY your own movie theater with a white sheet and projector,” Caponera suggested. “Just like that, your backyard transforms into the ultimate movie night with friends.”
Caponera offered other ideas for free or low-cost summer fun, such as arranging a relay race or beer olympics. “Create a Facebook invite to collect your RSVPs, add a few sports-themed decorations from your local dollar store, set up a speaker for fun party music, and let the games begin!” she said.
To set up a beanbag toss, tape dollar-store pool noodles into circles or purchase inexpensive plastic buckets. You also could host a water bucket relay race, a discus throw using a frisbee, or a water balloon or egg toss. For beer olympics, revisit your college days by setting up a beer pong court using a long table, Solo Cups, and a pingpong ball.
If your guests are athletic, you can organize a sporting match. “Host a simple soccer game in the backyard,” suggested Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, a brand editor at House Method, a website dedicated to making your home more beautiful and inspirational. “Tell everyone to bring their own beverages; all you have to provide are coolers with ice to keep them cold. Lay out a few blankets or set up chairs in the shade for those who would prefer to spectate.”
3. Offer affordable, tasty treats
Providing a big spread for your guests is one way entertaining can become expensive. But you can serve a great meal without paying top dollar for steaks to throw on the grill.
Caponera suggested a taco bar as one affordable solution for summer entertaining. “A quick stop at Costco or Sam’s Club for taco meat, shells, and a few toppings is all you need to host the ultimate Taco Tuesday or weekend fiesta!” she said.
She also suggested inviting friends over for a potluck organized around a theme, such as a summer tapas party or a clambake. That gives your guests a chance to get creative and ensures there are lots of delicious delights for everyone — without you having to spend a fortune at the grocery store.
Stocking up on hot dogs and hamburgers by buying in bulk during big sales and freezing them also will ensure you’re well-equipped for an affordable get-together.
Throwing a party doesn’t have to be expensive
Throwing a party doesn’t have to be expensive. Stick to your budget by serving fun, low-cost food and getting creative when it comes to your activities. You and your friends can enjoy lots of memorable events without jeopardizing your financial goals.
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