The Best Budget BBQ Party Ideas

bbq headerThe days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and the kids are days away from the end of the school year — that’s right — BBQ season is here!

The tradition of BBQ parties is a summer staple for a reason — everyone loves an opportunity to get together with friends and family, share some great stories, play some fun games and, most importantly, chow down on some tasty food from the grill. However, when the centerpiece of the party is the cuisine, the cost to host and feed a crowd can be a challenge. We’ve put together a list of some of the best BBQ party tips to ensure your only worry is whether or not you put on enough sunscreen to withstand the sunshine.


  1. Don’t think you have to impress your guests with high quality beef or fancy seafood. Consider your experiences as a guest at a BBQ — do you remember the food or do you remember the people, conversations and games you played? Don’t bother with the extra flourishes and stick with one protein that you can buy in bulk for bigger savings.
  2. Kid zone: If you plan on having multiple age groups at your party, make sure that you have entertainment set up for all groups. Some inexpensive but effective options for your small guests include sidewalk chalk, water color painting and backyard movies under the stars.
  3. Utilize a membership to Costco or Sam’s Club to purchase things in bulk for better savings. If you don’t have a membership, check with a friend to see if you could go together for a trip. Costco also allows you to shop as a guest with a Costco gift card, so load up a card and enjoy the complimentary access to a wide range of BBQ essentials.
  4. Don’t go to your local party supplies store, which is likely to raise the price of their BBQ-specific décor over the summer months. Instead, head to a dollar store and get the essentials for cheap! You only need a little flair when the food is the real star of the show.
  5. Take stock of what you have in your pantry before crafting your menu. Instead of picking the menu and buying supplies, see if you can make sides and appetizers out of the things you already have.
  6. If your pantry is bare, you can apply the same principle to the sale at your local grocer. Base your food choices on what is on sale and work from there. Fruits that are in-season tend to be on sale (and at their tastiest!). For other sales, use a grocery shopping app to show you where the best sales are.
  7. Avoid purchasing premade food. The stress of hosting can make things like ready-made pasta salad and meat and cheese trays appealing, but don’t be fooled: Supermarkets will mark up these premade products 30 – 40% for the convenience.1 Instead, plan ahead and prepare as much food as you can the day before the party so you can spend more time with friends and less time in the kitchen.
  8. Use free printables for a simple and free way to add character to your party. From invites to cake toppers, the options are endless.
  9. If your guest list is small enough, use your own dishware rather than purchasing paper or plastic utensils and plates. It’s an added convenience, but not worth the additional cost, especially if you have a dishwasher.
  10. Babysitters can be expensive! If a lot of your guests have kids, discuss how you can share the cost of childcare. Hire one or two babysitters and host all the kids at the party as well. Rather than each parent having to pay for one babysitter, parents can split the cost of the one or two needed to watch several kids. That way, the parents can have a great, relaxed time at a fraction of the cost.
  11. Bulk up on appetizers and sides so you don’t have to buy as much meat. Meat is easily one of the most expensive items on a BBQ shopping list, so have your guests fill up on budget-friendly dips and bite-sized munchies.
  12. Ask guests to contribute to the food spread. Potluck-style BBQs are common and even expected by most people. If you end up with too much food, even better — you’ll have leftovers for the week and can save on groceries.
  13. Turn off the grill as soon as you’re done cooking, not only for your safety, but also for efficiency. You’ll save on gas!
  14. Stick with domestic adult beverages. On average, beer is 28% of any BBQ budget.1 If you choose to provide adult beverages for your guests, buy domestic favorites (which are typically on sale for the holiday) rather than pricey craft brews.
  15. Buy cans of soda rather than two-liter bottles. While the large bottles tend to be cheaper by volume in comparison to cans, you’ll end up with half a dozen half finished bottles by the end of the party (which will probably go flat before you have a chance to get through them after the party). Bottles are much more likely to be poured out, and unused cans can easily be saved for another day.




1Woroch, A. (January 24, 2012). Save on Independence Day. Retrieved May 2, 2017, from

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