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Patriotic Summer BBQ on a Budget

Summer BBQ budget

I love throwing a BBQ. It’s one of the reasons we built a huge deck and patio. There is nothing quite like spending an afternoon outside with friends and family eating, drinking, and playing games while watching the kids run by laughing as they chase each other. Unfortunately, the cost of hosting parties has started to become prohibitive. It’s amazing how much I can spend on food for a gathering of just 10 people. Regardless we have started hosting an annual Memorial Day party, and I have started searching for ways to keep the price in check. Below our my tips for hosting a patriotic summer BBQ on a budget (I mentioned this was a memorial day party but obviously all the decor and food can be used for 4th of July or Labor Day as well).

patriotic decorations

I have 2 secrets for showing off the red, white, and blue at your BBQ: The Dollar Store and Target’s Dollar Stop. It’s a little ridiculous to spend a lot of money on decor that might literally be up for a couple of hours. I bought the miniature flags from Target (3 for $1) and I place them in all our pots. They also look great lining paths. The pinwheels also came from Target while the paper lanterns were from the Dollar Store. My other secret is that I save all these decoration from year to year. I have a large plastic bin that I put all our party decorations in and pull them back out for each party.

memorial day children

The Dollar Store and Target are also great spots to pick up patriotic accessories for the kids. Beside headbands I also picked up the kids a bunch of temporary tattoos and glow sticks.


summer bbq food

Food and drink is single handily the largest expense of any party, so this is where you really have to keep your budget in mind. There are 4 things to keep in mind when picking your menu:

  1. Limit the amount of dishes you serve. You are not Golden Carrol.
  2. Choose dishes that make a lot of food for little money (salads).
  3. Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance, so you can actually enjoy your guests.
  4. Ask guests to help out.

The chicken kabobs were a big hit. I bought 4lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast (@1.99/lb) and marinated them for a hour before skewering them with red, green, orange, and yellow peppers as well as onions. It only took 1 of each pepper to do this. We had 12 people at this particular BBQ and we maybe only went through 2/3rds of the kabobs.  We prepped all the kabobs before our guests arrived. This was the only dish that had to be cooked once the party started.

The strawberry spinach salad is my go-to dish for just about every potluck. People always rave about it and it’s super easy to make.  All you have to do it combine spinach, sliced strawberries, feta ( i like the herbed feta), and pecans (look for Pecan Pie flavored pecans for something really special). I usually offer many dressings on the side for guests to choose from but raspberry vinaigrette is definitely the best.

A fruit salad is another dish that everyone with enjoy and that will allow you to stretch a buck. I combined watermelon, pineapple, and blueberries to keep with the patriotic theme. I used metal cookie cutters to cut the watermelon into star shapes for an extra special touch.

The alcohol budget can get out of control quickly. Remember, it’s not your job to provide everyone’s favorite drink. We always have  water, lemonade, and beer on hand then I choose to make one signature drink. This year I choose a Star Spangled Sangria. Click the link to get the recipe. What was great about this drink was that I used the strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries in the other dishes as well, so I didn’t have to buy any extra fruit for it.

summer sangria

Finally, our guests each brought a dish to share. That included potato salad, cucumber salad, salsa and chips, and chocolate eclair. I am always very directive when guests ask what they can bring. The last thing you want it to have 3 potato salads. I’ll often tell people the menu I have already decided on then ask them to specifically bring either a side, appetizer, or dessert. This helps ensure that you have all the bases covered and don’t get too many similar dishes. Also, don’t be afraid to ask guests to BYOB. My brother is a beer drinker and not much of a cook, so I always suggest that he brings beer to the party. He feels like he gets to contribute and I don’t have to buy beer. It’s a win, win!


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