It’s just about time to break out your patio furniture and dust off your grill because summer is fast approaching and you know what that means: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, graduation parties, and classic barbecues call for backyard celebration. Good food, great friends, and hopefully good weather will accompany any outdoor cookout or party you plan to host this summer. Party planning can be a stresser but it doesn’t have to be! Here at Consumer Sense, we’ve rounded up our top 7 tips to have the best and most fun cookout this summer while saving money at the same time.

1. First up is seating. Depending on how many people you’re expecting, finding enough seats can be a struggle. Take your inside dining room chairs, folding chairs from camping or sports games (or even ask your neighbors for folding chairs) and bring them outside so everyone has a spot to relax. If you want more consistency, another surprisingly cheap option is to rent folding chairs, which can start as low as $2 a chair. Many companies will even drop them off and pick them up after your event. Or for a more fun and trendy option, consider spreading quilted blankets and pillows across the yard for a picnic style and flip over some short wooden boxes for tables and you’ve got an inexpensive boho style cookout.

A fun Boho take on backyard seating

2. What’s a meal without great dessert? Unfortunately, the post-grilling course of a cookout can be put on the back burner. To save you some time, host a dessert contest! Have some guests bring their favorite dessert, from family famous cookies to fancy cupcakes and classic brownies, and have people vote on their favorite one. You can even make a small prize or reward basket for the winner. It’s fun, gives people a chance to show off their baking skills and keeps you from having to scramble for baked goods.

 

3. Keeping drinks cold in the summer heat is a challenge. A great tip that doubles as entertainment can be swapping out your ice for frozen water balloons! Fill up balloons from the dollar store with water and freeze them overnight. When it’s time to put out the drinks, load up the cooler with frozen water balloons and later when they’ve thawed, the kids (and the adults too!) can use them to have a water balloon fight! This way, you’ll save on ice from the grocery store, which always goes way too fast and can add up quick.

Use frozen water balloons instead of ice to keep drinks cool

4. Serving a big crowd? Buy in bulk! Save the fancier meats and side dishes for smaller gatherings with one or two families, if you’re having lots of people at your party, there’s no shame in taking advantage of store-bought hamburgers and hot dogs. To spice them up, add a fun toppings bar for guests to make their own creation with things like guacamole, spicy mayo, pickles, tomatoes, different bun options- go crazy and make it super customizable! That way, you don’t have to spend hours the night before making up burger patties.

 

5. Break out the Christmas decorations. Those white holiday lights aren’t just useful during December! String them up around your patio set or even tree branches for when your party lasts into the night so guests can still see.

String up Christmas lights to keep the party alive

6. DIY your decorations. If you’re party has a theme like Labor Day, Fourth of July, or graduation, definitely be sure to check out Pinterest for cheap decor items you can make yourself with things you may already have. For example, a cute Fourth of July centerpiece can be made using mason jars and paint. Paint white and red stripes on the jars and let me dry. Cut paper stars from blue paper and glue them to skewers of different heights and stick them in the jar tied up with a festive ribbon around the rim. And there you go- an inexpensive and patriotic decor piece. Or if you don’t have time to cut and glue the stars, buy flowers and mini American flags from the dollar store to put in the jars instead.

 

7. Dessert Pt. 2. Because dessert deserves another money-saving tip, try a s’mores bar! If you have a fire pit to use, s’mores are easy and delicious. Find a layered cake stand (or make one out of cardboard or plates and candle stick holders) and fill one with chocolate, one with marshmallows and the last with graham crackers. S’mores fix-ins are generally pretty cheap and lighting up a fire can be a fun activity for the end of the night. Gather sticks from around the yard, and find creative ways to make inexpensive fire starters from things in your house like egg cartons and toilet paper rolls to help the fire last all party-long.

Use a cake stand to separate and display s’mores fix-ins

 

And there you have it- a budget friendly backyard party that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for your guests and your wallet. Get ready to grill and check back soon for more money saving tips for summer vacation and the back to school season!

Be sure to leave us a comment if you use any of these ideas or if there’s something you want money-saving tips on or even a retail trend you’d like to know more about!

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