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Don't let budget hinder summer parties

By Mary Motzko, Staff writer
Published On: May 12 2011 09:38:35 PM CDT
Updated On: May 15 2013 12:28:39 PM CDT
summer party

©iStockphoto.com / tilo

The weather is warm, the sun is out -- and your bank account is almost empty.

But before you let your tight budget hinder your ability to throw a summer bash, consider ways to cut costs while still being able to host your friends and family for a get-together.

Budget BBQs

Having a barbeque or a cookout is a common reason to invite people over, whether it be to celebrate a holiday or just to spend time with family and friends. And by following some thrifty tips, a BBQ can be an affordable fiesta, too.

A good place to cut costs is on the meat. Celebrations.com suggest that you tell guests to bring their own meat. That way, they can decide how much they want to spend and you can focus on the side dishes without having the burden of spending on the main course.

If you don't feel comfortable telling guests to bring their own meat, Celebrations.com recommends shopping smart. The Web site suggests sticking with cheaper cuts of meat such as ground beef. It also recommends looking for what's on sale that week and making sure you're getting more for your money.

Another area to trim spending is on beverages. Instead of setting up a full bar and offering your guests a variety of mixed drinks, Celebrations.com suggests limiting your selection to beer and soda. You can also ask guests to bring their own beverages.

You can also save money on dishware. The site recommends that hosts purchase reusable dishes so that the items may be used again for future parties instead of being thrown away.

Perhaps the most expensive part of having a BBQ is the grilling equipment itself. Celebrations.com recommends buying equipment in the off-season when it is more likely to be on sale.

Sunny Celebrations

You don't need to have a BBQ to throw a summer party -- you can also invite people over for a pool party, for summer drinks or even just to spend some time outside.

Whatever your celebration may be, you can save by inviting fewer guests. Since a lot of people tend to go out of town over the weekends during the summer, it is acceptable to trim your guest lists.

If your party is intimate, Oprah.com suggests also cutting back on the food you serve. According to the Web site, hosts can get away with serving limited food options -- even maybe just offering one type of a unique appetizer -- to a small party.Oprah.com also recommends letting your guests help provide the entertainment by having each of them bring a CD that can be played throughout the party.

Graduation Gatherings

One of the most common summer parties is to celebrate a graduation. While some graduation parties may be large in number, there are still ways to cut costs, says Ginger Venable of GraduationParty.com.

One of the main ways to cut expenses is on food. To save money, Venable says the timing is everything.

"Really pay attention to what day you have the party," Venable said.

She recommends picking a day that several others are having parties. That way your guests can fill up at other celebrations. Venable said the best day to have the party is the Saturday after graduation and to hold your party from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., after most people have eaten lunch and before they're hungry for dinner.

"You can put out a beautiful display, and no one will eat a thing," Venable said.

However, Venable said to make sure that even if you're cutting back on food to make sure you have enough to feed your guests, especially those who are only coming to your party, such as relatives or out-of-town guests.

For what to serve, Venable suggests asking the graduate what she wants. The day is supposed to be about the student. Plus, chances are they aren't going to request an expensive meal -- they'll most likely want pizza or a taco bar.

Another area to trim costs is on decorations. Venable suggests not buying anything personalized. Instead, she recommends buying generic banners and then adding the graduate's name with construction paper cutouts.

She also recommends going with a theme other than the year. Venable tells her clients to "dare to be different," which can result in unique parties with unexpected themes, and it can also save money by buying decorations and accessories that can be used over again.

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