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Nothing beats a relaxed barbecue with friends on a warm summer day. Hosting an outdoor party is a fun way to get everyone together — but food, drink and activity expenses can quickly add up. If you're looking for cheap barbecue ideas, try these summer party tips.

Conquer the Menu

When planning a barbecue, figuring out your menu in advance helps you save on party expenses.

  • Set a budget. Decide how much you want to spend before you go shopping and don't exceed that amount. Count the number of guests to ensure that you won't overbuy and wind up with too many uneaten leftovers.
  • Be flexible with food and drink choices. Look at supermarket ads to determine what's currently on sale. Seasonal produce is a great bet, so you may want to prepare a summer fruit salad or fresh veggies and dip. To limit the amount of different items you'll need to stock up on, consider making one fun signature drink rather than an array of beverages.
  • Stock up early. If you host frequent summer barbecues, keep an eye out for sales of nonperishable items, like condiments and drink mixes, early in the season. This will also help avoid a last-minute scramble for party essentials.
  • Accept offers from guests. If someone volunteers to bring something, take them up on it. You can also keep a list of items you need, so when someone asks how they can help, you'll have an answer ready, such as asking them to bring a salad or a dessert.

Save on Party Set-up

Barbecues are often casual get-togethers, so the decorations don't need to be fancy. All you really need is enough plates and cups for everyone, plus a few finishing touches to highlight the party atmosphere.

  • Consider borrowing items rather footing the expense for furnishings you'll only use once or twice per season. And remember to pay it forward and offer the chairs and tables you do have to your friends when it's their turn to host.
  • Go green and save money by ditching disposable dishes and utensils. Create a party box filled with reusable plates, cloth napkins and drinkware. This saves the need to buy paper products and lowers the overall cost of your parties over time. You can make one yourself or turn it into a fun, collaborative project with your friends and family.
  • Decorate with beauty and function. Use fresh flowers from your garden to add a casual touch of beauty. Or create a centerpiece by placing frozen water balloons in glass vases, which double as drink coolers. If your backyard gets buggy in the summer months, decorate tabletops with citronella candles or use lemon and essential oils as a natural insect repellent.

Find Cheap Party Activities

Aside from the menu, party entertainment is another important planning item. When the kids get restless, you'll want to have some quick and fun activities ready.

  • Prepare easy backyard games. Check in your garage to see what you have on hand, or make a trip to the dollar store for cheap items like bubbles, hula hoops and playground balls.
  • Enlist your talented guests to help with party entertainment. Ask one of your artistic friends for craft ideas to keep kids busy. You can even set up a stage and let the kids entertain the adults.
  • Start a competition. Engage all of your guests with a fun-filled competition. Devise random teams to encourage everyone to mingle.

You can create lasting memories this summer without spending a lot. Cheap barbecue ideas can lead to relaxed and refreshing get-togethers, so think simple and easy for maximum fun.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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