Planning a Summer Party on a Small Budget

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If the last 18 months of lockdown and social distancing has taught us anything it’s the value of outdoor space. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden you’ll already know the positive effects on our mental wellbeing, and if you’re a keen gardener, on your physical health as well. And the garden is the perfect place to socialise in a safe way with friends and family – especially now that summer is upon us and the sun’s rays add to the air of cautious optimism that is floating around. If you’re planning a big party you may be worried about breaking the bank. Even a small party can be expensive to organise, and you want to get it just right. But don’t worry – there are many ways to have a glorious bash in your backyard with a tight budget – and no sacrifice on quality. You can hire a gazebo party tent as it provides high-quality material and decoration options that complement your settings.

DIY decor

There are plenty of ideas to help you decorate your garden for a party. If you really want to spend money, try planning ahead and buying decorations in the offseason, they should be a whole lot cheaper then. But really, decorations don’t have to be high tech, and if you have flowers growing or nice looking raised beds with vegetables these will act as natural decor. Just make sure no one enjoys themselves too much and trips over (or worse) in the flower beds! Paper lanterns are a great and simple way to inject a bit of colour, and other easy ideas such as floating tea lights or large candles – again, exercise caution if there are likely to be lots of people drinking, children or animals around. Another place to spend money frugally is in a dollar store or pound shop (depending on where you are in the world) – you’ll find a wealth of budget decorations such as bunting and fairy lights.

Good, simple food

Catering for a party – even a small one – can be extremely costly. So, if you’re on a budget, don’t leave it to the professionals. The best way to do this is to organise the food around the barbecue. Chicken, sausages, even steaks are reasonably affordable – but the real trick is to get your guests to bring a couple of things to stick on the BBQ, be they meat, fish or vegetables. Make sure everyone is catered for – a separate grill for vegetarians is a must. Providing dips and dippable items is also pretty cheap – celery, carrots, tortilla chips are all easily affordable and readily available. Salads can be thrown together easily and in huge quantities. And if you know what specialties your guests can rustle up, don’t be afraid to ask them to bring a big bowl of it along. Couscous, rice, pasta salads, bean dip – all are great along with the grilled meat.

Space

Maybe this should have been first on the list, but a garden party requires a garden to be in good nick. Give your lawn a good mowing – it’ll be easier for your guests to move about and there is less chance of nasty creepy crawlies such as ticks ruining the fun for everyone. If your lawn is your pride and joy you may want to use a covering for it – just make sure it won’t get slippery if (when) a drink is spilled on it. Talking of bugs, best to spray with an organic pest deterrent in advance of the party. You can also burn citronella candles or use herbs that deter bugs. Another option is netting – mesh screens over food areas will work wonders, especially on those hot summer nights which are a bug’s paradise. Don’t forget to declutter your garden – guests being able to mingle without stepping on a rake or encountering a badly placed potted plant is essential.

BYOB

Another area where guests are usually happy to contribute – and one of the costliest to provide for on your own – is alcohol. Asking friends to bring their own is totally acceptable, and many will bring more than they personally want to consume, which means no danger of running out (which would be completely unacceptable). If you provide mixers and soft drinks such as cola, orange juice, soda, tonic, lemonade – even milk if someone fancies a White Russian – it gives guests a good range of drinks they can make and is very cheap to provide. Probably the best tactic when it comes to providing your guests with a drop of booze is to either grab a huge package of beer (cans or stubbies work best) or make a big bowl of punch – there are recipes all over the internet, it can be made quickly and easily and adds to the celebratory atmosphere.

Sweet music

Hiring a band is far more hassle than your life needs, so forget it already. And why hire a DJ when you can sort the music in advance, to play all night, without having to deal with an ego or hand over any cash? Apps like Spotify and Apple Music are perfect for parties – select your favourite songs in one huge playlist, or have different lists depending on the time of night – some classics to warm people up, disco bangers for peak time, some slowies to wind things down, and a load of thrash metal when you want to get rid of any stragglers. If your speakers are powerful enough just put them on window sills, but if not, make sure to keep any electrical cables under shelter, away from any liquid, and neatly coiled so nobody trips over them.

Furniture

You probably have the odd bit of garden furniture already, but it may need a new lease of life. To give a more intimate feel to the party, some throws or rugs over chairs and garden sofas would do the trick. If you can salvage some palettes these can be multipurpose – and possibly even free. Likewise, if you live near a farm see if you can blag some bales of hay or straw (straw is more likely to be free). Make sure whatever you’re putting the food and drink on is steady and stable!

Your summer party should be relaxing, intimate and fun for everyone. With a few of these tips, you really can’t go wrong – and you’ll be the host(ess) with the most(ess) without breaking the bank.