How to throw a summer BBQ party for under $75

Flipping burgers, roasting dogs, ice cold beverages – nothing beats getting together with friends and family for a barbeque party in the summer. But, spending money on food, drinks, decorations and games can add up.

We’ve done the research and found out how you can host a summer BBQ for $75 or less:

Skip the fancy meats

While it may be tempting to serve your guests steak, it’s a lot cheaper to stick to burgers and hot dogs. After all, nothing says summer like burgers and hot dogs – and we guarantee your guests won’t have any complaints!

Check your fridge and pantry before grocery shopping

You likely already have a lot of the food that you need in your fridge or pantry, so take inventory of what’s there before heading out to the grocery store. You’re probably stocked with most condiments like ketchup and mustard, so use those rather than buying new to save money when shopping for your party. Don’t forget to check what other supplies you have other than food – any leftover paper napkins? Paper towel for cleanup? Plastic utensils? Whatever you can skip buying at the store will save you money in the long run.  

Ask guests to bring a side dish or salad

If you’re taking care of the burgers and hot dogs, it’s fair to ask your guests to pitch in and bring a side dish or salad. It also doubles as a fun way to exchange recipes with friends and family. 

Tip: Ask if guests have any dietary restrictions and make sure there’s a big enough a variety of dishes to accommodate allergies and preferences (vegetarian, gluten-free, nut allergies etc.).

Easiest and cheapest dessert? Marshmallows or s’mores!

Keep dessert simple and buy some marshmallows for everyone to roast over the fire. After all, nothing is more reminiscent of summer than sitting by a fire and making s’mores. Guests of all ages will love this treat, and it’s friendly on your wallet. 
If you don’t have a fire pit or chimney in your back yard, no worries! There’s lots of easy ways to make s’mores in the oven, keeping your guests happy and your budget on track.

Drinks – keep it dry or BYOB 

When it comes to drinks, keep it simple. The easiest way throw a BBQ on a budget is to skip the alcohol, or ask guests to bring their own. Drinks can add up quickly, and this way you don’t have to worry about buying a variety of beverages since people will bring their own.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to have water on hand to keep your guests hydrated on a hot summer day. Opt for tap water instead of bottled to help save you money. You can keep a jug of ice cold water and refill it as people drink it. 

Grab some dollar store decorations 

While decorations aren’t necessary, they do make BBQs a lot more fun, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. You can find a lot of affordable decorations at your local dollar store. And while you’re there, don’t forget to pick up anything else that may come in like paper plates and cutlery. 

Make some DIY games and activities 

Games make a BBQ so much more fun, and luckily there are several DIY backyard games that come at little to no cost. You can make your own ladder toss game by attaching signs with different point values to a ladder. A frozen t-shirt race is something many guests will appreciate on a hot summer day: Freeze t-shirts then have guests race to defrost the shirt be the first to put it on.

Other ways to save on BBQ activities include asking guests to bring their favourite game, or keeping it simple and playing cards on your patio or deck.

Here’s a breakdown of what your summer BBQ budget can look like if you follow our tips:

Food - $25 

Hamburgers: $12-$15 (12-16 patties)
Buns: $6 (2 packs)
Cheese slices: $3-$5 
Marshmallows (for dessert): $3-$5 

Save on:

Condiments (ketchup, mustard, relish) – Use what you have in your fridge
Salads and sides – Ask guests to bring a dish

Drinks - $10

Pop: $10 (2-3 cases)

Save on:

Water – use tap water rather than bottled water 

Decorations - $15

Paper plates/cutlery: $10
Balloons (optional): $5

Save on:

Napkins – Use what you already have (plain white, or paper towel)

Games - $0

Save money on games:

-Ask guests to bring their favourite games
-Play cards
-DIY games (ladder toss and frozen t-shirt race)

Miscellaneous - $20

Sunscreen (protect guests from the sun): $5-$10
Firewood (for roasting marshmallows): $10

Feeding a big crowd of people? We have even more tips on how to save money when feeding guests. Check out our blog on how to feed a crowd on a budget.

Enjoy the sunshine, burgers, games and time with friends this summer!