Organizing A Frugal Backyard Barbeque Party


Frugal Backyard Barbeque Party, is that possible? Of course it is!

Summer is now in full swing and if you are like us we are getting invited to parties left, right and centre. All these parties can add up and of course if you are hosting the party it can also cost you a pretty penny. We don’t budget in extra expenses for summer time parties so our expenses are coming out of our grocery budget. For example, we are going to a backyard party next week where we were asked to supply 2 boxes of burgers. We figure if we weren’t eating at a party we would be eating at home so the food we bring whether we eat it at the party or home is coming from the grocery budget.

When we want to host a large party in our backyard we like to plan ahead to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.  Have you ever been to a party where there wasn’t enough food or so disorganized you get bored?  There’s nothing worse than your guests wanting to run to the nearest pizza joint after they leave your house because they are ready to bite their fingers off. That being said we typically like to make sure we have more food even if we have to send some of it home with our guests at the end of the party.

Have you ever been ready to attend a party where you already know….. you should either

1-Eat before you go

2-Plan to eat out after the party

Have you ever watched the TV program Come Dine With Me Canada where couples host dinner parties for other couples in a 5 day battle? The show makes me spin-off my seat with laughter with some of the things I see. It’s also a great way to learn what NOT to do at a dinner/barbeque party.

Seriously though, it’s not fun when you go to a party and the hosts don’t go out of their way to make it a pleasurable experience. Some people may argue the toss with me but that’s why you either click with people or you don’t. Our mates like to have a good time as do we when we attend or host a party.

No offense but a bowl of lettuce leaves cut in half, salad dressing and a pack of sausages with no buns on the barbeque is pretty boring and not filling at all. But wait….then out come the chips left over from last nights party still in the bowl. You are now either thinking one of two things, crikey that’s awful or who care’s I’d eat it, after all my friends are my friends. It truly depends on what a “Dinner Party” or ” Backyard Barbeque Party” means to you.  I like to think as I age that I should host frugal yet sophisticated allure type parties for my friends and family. We certainly aren’t Mr and Mrs. Money bags nor are we skint so we like to keep it somewhere in the middle.  It’s no different from wanting the Prada bag but getting the Prado bag but no one really can tell the difference.

I do understand that maybe that’s the way some people host but certainly not how we would host a proper dinner party. We are less likely to want to return to a party of this sort but would rather suggest drinks the next time around. We also never leave home empty handed when attending a party. We like to bring a little something whether it be food, desert or wine out of respect for the host/hostess even if they say not to bring anything.

Overall I think it’s great that people want to invite people over but if you can’t afford it in the budget or you don’t like to cook, don’t host a barbeque/dinner party. There’s nothing worse than looking cheap at a party or even worse that you put no effort into it.

Options and Ideas

You can host a frugal posh-like party on a budget with some planning and your guests will be left in awe. Offering nice back ground music is always enjoyable to set the tone of the party.

Another option if you don’t like to grill is to  invite your guests to show off how they can Grill It like Bobby Flay. You could also simply invite friends over for drinks or host a themed pot-luck party where each guest brings a dish. With the economy the way it is we realize not everyone has lots of money to splash around. We love it when we get to show off foods from our culture and enjoy eating foods from other cultures. It also opens up the lines of communication between couples who don’t know each other. They become experts on the food and talk about the dish and where it originates from. Stories just keep on flowing and we all learn something from each other.

I would suggest to choose the event according to your budget but don’t cheap out on everything. Do a bit of on-line research on bbq party hosting etiquette so you know what a great host does to prepare for a night of food and fun.

Here are some ways to keep the party full of good food, decorate for less, and keep organized.

  • Serve appetizers that are frugal but you add one or two ingredients that are a splurge such as stuffed olives, feta, sun-dried tomatoes,brie cheese.
  • You want to offer them the best but you don’t need to buy the most expensive so shop around for variations of products.
  • Shop the sales flyers for the week and prepare healthy foods around what’s in season.
  • Keep a check-list handy so you don’t miss anything and look unorganized.
  • If you are hosting a barbeque make sure your propane tanks are full otherwise you will be flipping the bill for pizza with a fake smile.
  • Host a Desert only party with a theme if cooking is not your thing.
  • Don’t overstock the alcohol but still have it available. You can offer punch, cocktails, fruit smoothies,water. Options are best.
  • If you prefer ask everyone to bring a dish for each course as a pot-luck.
  • Keep the food simple such as sausages,burgers,chicken,veggie burgers, skewers,potatoes, rice,vegetables, tuna pasta saladtomato salad, cucumber salad and a dip such as guacamole.
  • Always garnish and add colour to your plates to make them look lavish and inviting. A simple bunch of herbs will do the trick.
  • You can have guests snack on pita chips, veggie platters or seasonal fresh fruits while the main meal is prepared.
  • Hit up the dollar store as they always have decorations for any party or borrow what you can.
  • Check Freecycle, Kijiji and Craigslist for items people are selling off or giving away free from their party.

A well planned party can be a fun party even when you have limited funds. Your guests will appreciate the effort you put in and rave about it the next day with all of their friends. At least you know they will go home full if you offer them a meal fit for a king but not costing you a lot out-of-pocket.

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  1. We hosted back yard barbecue parties for large crowds every year for years and years. We had a 45 gallon metal drum cut in half vertically, mounted the two halves on metal stands my husband welded, and topped them with stretch plate grates. Good old fashioned charcoal was the fuel of choice.

    When we issued invitations, we specified that your guests were to bring their own meat (or other entree for grilling) and their own booze. We supplied miscellaneous snack foods, salads, breads, condiments, desserts, non alcoholic drinks, and a wading pool full of ice in which to cool the beverages. It was also our habit to provide something hot to eat around midnight; usually pizza or open faced sandwiches.

    We didn’t do much in the way of organizing entertainment, but we did provide horseshoe pits, badminton nets and rackets, music, and lighting. We did our best to ensure that there were enough folks of different ages and interests that no one could be stand-offish.

    Folks seemed to enjoy themselves. Most stayed until the wee hours, or brought sleeping bags and stayed on to the next day. Lots of happy memories.

  2. When we get together with friends for a bbq we always ask what we can bring and are always told what is best for us to bring. I like that we all contribute and it really takes any stress off the host I find. When I go to my parents house for dinner it’s always a case of just bring yourself 🙂 My extended family functions are almost always potluck and we’re just told what to bring lol

    • Why did I know you would mention those free dinners at mum and dads lol… Yes it’s true we enjoy pot lucks as well and like I said everyone’s dish always has a story so no shortage on chats. Cheers Jen, and thanks Mr.CBB

  3. These BBQs can add up, but I’ve found that I can feed about 6 people for what it costs to go out to eat for a dinner for two. Most people down here don’t ask people to bring specific things, except whatever you like to drink. Great tips.

  4. Our apartment is too small to do much entertaining, but I do like to host sometimes. I go all out when I do – I find beer can chicken to be easy to make and everyone LOVES it. Then I tend to make garlic potatoes, a salad, corn on the cob, etc. Easy but delicious.

    • What time should we be there Daisy?? Lol…. Yes we do the same as we love for our guests to have a good time. I’ve never made beer can chicken but heard lots about it. What is it that you do? Cheers Mr.CBB

  5. For our last BBQ I served a traditional meal. Burgers, made fresh and seasoned, hot dogs, fruit salad, beans, and all the dishes the guest brought. The comment that stuck in my mind was when one of the guests said she had never been to a cookout where the host made the burgers by hand. Sometimes it is the little things that we may take for granted. I would never serve someone a frozen pre-made burger.

    • I know you wouldn’t but I wouldn’t be upset if you didn’t as it’s the norm for most especially when you are feeding lots and lots of people. Beef in Canada can cost anywhere from $6-$7 400g which will make 3 nice sized burgers once you add the spices, eggs and breadcrumbs(that’s what we do). I agree the little things count but sometimes just to see that some thought and organization was put into the occasion is the little things for me… not yesterdays chips.. (that’s a true story too mate).. Cheers Dennis! P.S…. Where’s your Burger recipe?

  6. Mary F Campbell says:

    I find our circle of friends have moved away from home entertaining – it’s a been there, done that kind of thing. They also are gathering in much smaller groups than we did in our 20’s and 30’s. Read here there’s no partying til dawn anymore either… old farts that we are! They also tend to have functions either at a hall if the gathering is large enough (i.e. retirement parties or 60th birthdays) or else they want to gather in a restaurant that can accommodate the number of guests involved (usually no more than 25). Long gone are the days when they want to spend a week polishing and shining everything in the house, only to have to clean it all again after the party.

    Now that we are on one income, I find it’s easier for me to just work on the premise that we’ll come visit you with enough food for a lunch…our treat. It’s certainly cheaper than gathering in a restaurant! The hostess/person that we are visiting can provide the tea, coffee, water, juices & soft drinks etc. and do whatever tidying they need to do in order to feel comfortable with company. I am a lunatic about what needs to be spotless for guests so I very much appreciate this is every bit as much work as making the meal.

    Besides, I can throw together a salad/casserole/crockpot item and some sort of homemade bread/muffins/scones/biscuits… easy peasy. And because I have dietary issues (diabetic), this means I will actually get something to eat that works for me. It’s also nice for the hostess in that she is pampered a little, served in her own home, PLUS she gets to try something new & different.

    This works for us…and we have never had anyone complain that we are bringing the meal! LOL

    • Yes we notice staying up late is getting far and few nowadays. I can also imagine as we get older we won’t want to be hosting big backyard parties and family gatherings. I can understand why it may be easier for seniors or older folks to want to do smaller gatherings at a restaurant or hall. It makes sense and the been there done that is really what life evolves into. Oh and about being a lunatic.. you and Mrs.CBB should chat, she’s the same way! Cheers Mary and thanks for commenting. Always appreciated.

  7. We went to two birthday barbecues this past year and we hosted one for my husband…..the ones we went to asked for everyone to bring a dish and some beer/wine……so we did the same we said instead of presents just bring yourself and some beer etc.. to share! It went great we had a blast! We provided soft drinks, Bud Lite, Sodas, chips, baked beans….the basics. We had tons of food! I know what you mean often people worry when they host in upwards of 20 people that the expense will be too much for us this was a great way to offset that. We swam in the pool, the kids all played with the chickens, we had cornholing, people went to look at the bees and take tours of the gardens…and people brought funny cards to my husband and he got a few lottery tickets and one of our friends brought him some gardening sticks to put in the garden with bees on them 🙂 I agree we always bring a dish/or canned food item or wine when we are invited to a party or dinner. Great article!

    • Thanks! We love pot lucks as if offsets the costs for the hosts. At the same time if we don’t host a potluck we make sure we have enough food which means planning and budgeting for the party. We love eating foods from everyone so most of the time a great pot luck is the way to go. Cheers Mr.CBB

  8. That show sounds entertaining at the very least. I’ve been to under fooded parties before…so disappointing! Pot lucks I’ve been to have been huge successes. I love them.

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