Backyard Entertainment on a Budget: Big on Savings, Big on Fun

No matter the season, I love hosting backyard parties. They’re a fun way to bring friends and family together. Where there’s good food there’s a good time, right? If you feel the same but have been hesitant to play host because your budget doesn’t quite match your big backyard entertainment plans, think again.

Trust me, you can still pull off outdoor entertaining on a budget. From laidback BBQs to cocktail parties, you can cut costs behind the scenes and throw an amazing party. Here are a few simple tips – masks and social distancing not included. 

Where to Shop? 

Two women shopping at an antique store preparing for backyard entertainment

Preparing for your party is where most of the money goes. Purchasing food, decor, dinnerware, and table linens can quickly blow your budget out of the water. If you’re throwing a small get-together for a few people you might have most of what you need already. But if you’re planning a bigger gathering, you’ll need to shop wisely.

Instead of spending a few hundred dollars on a fancy crystal punch bowl, shop smart at discount retailers such as TJ Maxx, Target, or Walmart. Online retailers like Amazon also have great deals. Don’t be afraid to hit up local food markets, flea markets, and thrift stores. You’ll be amazed at what great quality items you can get for a fraction of the normal price. Thrift or antique stores also increase your chances of scoring really unique finds that will add a special touch to your festivities. 

Budget-Friendly Recipes 

A bamboo bowl containing a rice dish with a bamboo spoon resting on top of it

Family recipes are almost always budget-friendly. I suggest sticking with Grandma’s recipes where appropriate – assuming you can cook as well as she does! For BBQs and cookouts, invite your guests to bring one of their best main or side dishes to share. This will save you money and cooking time. 

Another way to win at backyard entertainment on a budget is to swap out more expensive ingredients for less pricey ones. Instead of expensive steaks, opt for beef kabobs. If you’re serving multiple courses, smaller portions will go unnoticed. Make sure to provide plenty of (inexpensive) appetizers before the main meal. If you have a thriving vegetable and/or herb garden, use what you have and think big flavors – farm to table is all the rage, after all!

DIY Decor 

A table with floral centerpieces and glassware showing outdoor entertaining on a budget

When it comes to decor, it’s best to use what you have and keep things simple. If you have a central feature in your backyard like a fire pit or waterfall, center your get-together around that with a few simple accent pieces such as pinecones, paper lanterns, candles, or flowers from your garden. 

Themes are a great way to guide your decor plans, too. Mainstream holidays are obvious – Christmas, Halloween and the like. For other occasions, consider a color scheme, or activity-based themes like a luau, game night, or costume party.

And don’t forget about lighting – it’s a great way to set the mood. Overhead string lighting is inexpensive and provides illumination without competing with the starry night sky. 

Backyard Entertainment on a Budget: Good Vibes 

Woman in backyard at a garden party

All of the above can really make for an awesome party, but what matters most is the company. Keep your parties small and intimate (and socially distanced when necessary!) – and use what you have. With a little creativity and personality, budget-friendly backyard entertainment will be easy to achieve. Your standout personality is probably what brings everyone together in the first place, the rest is just a bonus. Happy entertaining!