How-Tuesday: Host a Backyard Party on a Budget

Today's blog was written by 28 year-old Quinn McAdams of New York. Quinn is married with children, enjoys living an active lifestyle in the outdoors and loves playing soccer. Quinn likes to host backyard parties with fun for the whole family that won't break the bank. Check out her How-To guide below on hosting outdoor parties on a budget. 

Have a budget-friendly spring gathering this weekend!

Spring is finally making its way in, and there are few warm-weather things that my husband and I enjoy doing more than having get-togethers in our backyard. Our backyard is a perfect place to gather once people start venturing out from their winter hideaways! And who doesn't love a barbecue with good food, good drinks, and good company? Since this winter has been so long, we had to dip into our savings to make sure we were warm at night—but this doesn't mean we're going to stop having people over. My husband and I have found some ways that will cut the cost, but not the fun!


We're one of those obnoxious families who has their Christmas lights up all year, but we've found a great reason to take them down. Instead of expensive lights to hang around our backyard, we're going to rehang our Christmas lights around our porch. To give them a summery feel, I'm going to drop by the dollar store and get small white plastic cups; my kids love crafts, so we'll cut small holes in the bottoms of the cups and add them as tiny lampshades for better illumination.

Another (though admittedly less pretty) way to light up the yard once the sun goes down is to get empty milk jugs and put glowsticks or headlamps in them (save on electricity that way too!)—they're surprisingly bright.

For décor, I'll get paper tablecloths and plate ware from the dollar store while I'm there getting the cups, but what I'm proud of is a set of glass bowls I picked up for a bargain. I'm going to put plastic daisy flowers in them with a tea light to illuminate—safe for young ones, and very pretty!


One huge way to save money where we live is to buy local food. Once it warms up enough to melt the snow, farmers come with their fresh produce and meat to public markets around town; not only is the food less expensive than store-bought, but it's also organic and supports the local economy. My husband will probably barbecue a load of meat, and I'll make up a load of fruit salad—one of my favorite summer dishes! And, to save on s'mores ingredients, I'll hold back some fruit and get some Fluff: not only is this healthier than normal s'mores, but it's also less messy for the kids to dip berries in Fluff and roast it on sticks. Innovative and fun!


Of course we will have juice and soda for the kids, but we want to spice things up for the grown-ups! Since adult beverages are normally the most expensive thing on the list, people usually don't mind doing a potluck-style or B.Y.O.B sort of bar, especially since we're hosting and providing food. The key is just not to be shy—guests want to help.

Alternatively, you can consider getting mixers to make fruity drinks—for those, you probably don't want the expensive stuff anyway! We love serving our favorite summer sangria – our guests love sipping it out of our mason jars we got from here! Also, sites like this one can give a load of ideas for two- or three-ingredient mixed drinks, too, if you want to have a few staples hanging around!


Who says games are just for kids? A great investment is giant versions of board games, to play things like Lawn Jenga or Lawn Yahtzee. They can run a little pricey, but there are loads of other games to play with company. Some may groan at the idea of playing tag or throwing a Frisbee around, but get the game started and see if there are any cynics after ten minutes! Our neighbors always have footballs, soccer balls, Frisbees and other things they like to bring to keep the kids busy (and ready to sleep when they head home!). And everyone has a stereo and some embarrassingly old CDs: my husband and I plan to put on our “Best of the 60s and 70s” mix and see if we can't teach the kids how to do the Twist!

With some planning, extra paper, and resourcefulness, it can be easy—and fun!—to host a backyard party on a budget. Let the summer times reign!


Thank you to Quinn McAdams for sharing ideas on hosting

budget-friendly parties this spring and summer! 

Have fun, 

Quinn McAdams