Before jetting off to SoCal for some family time, I did a segment on my local news station about saving on July 4th BBQs. This is a fun topic for me since I enjoy any event that focuses on food!
My husband and I love hosting outdoor get-togethers and pretty much insist on making everything ourselves. He mans the grill and takes care of the side dishes while I make some fattening baked confection to force feed my overstuffed guests. Throw in some cocktails and home brew and everyone leaves sufficiently fed and satisfied.
As I point out in the segment, backyard barbecues are not supposed to be expensive. However, costs can add up if you let them, so here are a few ways I save on hosting.
Keep It Small – This one is obvious but I’d be remiss not to include it in the roundup. We’ve had big parties in the past but lately, we keep the guest list to just a handful of close friends or family. Not only does this cut down on the overall cost, but we get quality time with everyone as opposed to minimal time split between several guests.
Skip the Paper Goods – Paper plates and plastic utensils are great for kids’ parties and family reunions, but when you’re hosting another couple or two they’re kind of unnecessary. The convenience factor is tough to beat, but ultimately I don’t mind scraping a few dishes and loading the dishwasher while chatting with friends.
Limit Offerings – There’s no need for a five-course meal during a casual get together, but sometimes the excitement of hosting clouds my better judgement. More often than not, people fill up on tapas, eat less dinner and boycott dessert, rendering my efforts useless and my expenditures inefficient. So, I offer either appetizers or dessert, but not both.
DIY – As I mentioned, my husband and I like to make everything from scratch. We’re foodies like that, I guess, but it’s also a frugal move. Paying a premium for pre-made kabobs is silly when you can chop meat, defrost shrimp and skewer peppers yourself. Similarly, pre-made sides can add up, which leads me to my next tip…
Prepare Simple Sides – I’m stealing this one from a friend who recently hosted her son’s one-year-old birthday party. In addition to a simple pasta salad, she served a bowl of red and green grapes. How easy is that? No prep required, plus they look awesome on the food table.
Put a Cap on Booze – I’d love to offer my guests a full bar but to paraphrase a popular meme, “ain’t nobody got [money] for dat.” So, we stick to a few options: sun tea, home-brewed IPA and gin and tonics. Most people bring something to share, like a bottle of wine or a six-pack, making the options even richer without making us poorer.
While these tips aren’t mind-blowing, they serve as a good reminder to anyone hosting a casual backyard gathering. So now, I’m interested in your advice: How do you save on summer soirées?