5 tips for summer backyard fun on a budget
While you may never be at the level of Martha Stewart or Ina Garten, House (after all, not all of us have a home in East Hampton with a lush backyard) there’s no reason you can’t aspire to the easy, breezy entertainment philosophy of these mega hostesses .
And while you’re at it, you can aspire to host cheaper– make Friday night dinners or Sunday brunch for the friends you call family affordable, easy to digest, and eminently pleasant business. After the year and the change we have all experienced, the fun is not so much in the pudding (although it can be!) As in the company. So instead of going into the red to fund a barbecue in your backyard or an intimate outdoor cocktail party – or maybe worse, ditching the idea of organizing altogether – check out these smart and easy ways. of save money on your summer shindig.
Don’t get carried away.
First things first: Decide what you’re going to do and stick to the plan. Whether you’re hosting a brunch for six of your closest friends on your back patio, or a Sunday dinner with your neighbors and their two children, put together an appropriate menu based on the number of people and the occasion. Food writer and photographer (and editor-in-chief of Good. Food. Stories), Casey Barber, who also happens to be semi-famous in some circles for his legendary and meticulously themed (pre-COVID) Christmas parties, admits to battling the urge to make too much food every time. “Overserving my guests is the number one way the costs get out of hand,” she warns.
Barber urges hosts not to overdo it. And if you just need to add one thing, give a nod to Martha and put some radishes and some olive oil: cheap and delicious.
Let the sides take center stage.
The recent announcement of one of the world’s best restaurants, Eleven Madison Park, that it will no longer serve meat or seafood in its multi-course tasting menu should tell you one thing: meat isn’t everything. In fact, it may not be necessary at all. The hairstylist says that if you’re serving meat – and write down the “if” here, because you obviously don’t have to include it on your menu at all – you should use it as an accent, not a main course. Less is more, and Barber suggests grill a big steak (skirt and bibs are both more affordable than porterhouses or filet mignon) and slice it for fajitas or with a neighborhood salad instead of bacon for something a little more substantial.
Adopt nature as your backdrop.
Indeed, one of the beautiful things about hosting a small summer gathering is the great outdoors. Less cleaning is an obvious win for the host (you’ll have even less work if you go for paper plates and paper utensils, which are now available. many environmentally friendly options your choice), but another bonus? There is absolutely no need to decorate.
“I don’t consider decoration to matter when we get together in the backyard,” says Barber, who will usually light a few tiki torches if the party is after dusk and maybe a few fairy lights under the pergola. . The evening atmosphere (with a few fireflies) is enough, underlines Barber, adding that a good playlist is a must. It’s free too!
Granted, Barber says she always goes over budget when themes are involved, so unless you’re extremely cunning and resourceful, consider skipping the theme and just embracing the joy of hanging out with your friends again.
Be open to BYOB.
There is something about being invited to someone’s house that makes people want to come with a present of some sort. Sometimes this offering is a pretty bunch of flowers (another reason to support the zero decor mentality), but more often it’s wine or beer or a fancy bottle of liquor. Suppose at least half of your eight RSVPd guests will bring some form of alcohol and end up worrying about your bar situation, albeit a bit lacking.
It’s a good idea to stock up on sodas and blenders, all of which can be purchased cheaply. Take an orange, a few limes, and lemons, and whip up a simple, high-volume drink if you can’t settle for the DIY approach. Barber is a fan of the drink in batch, which she says can actually make the party “a little bit special”. It doesn’t need to be elaborate either: try a simple, homemade syrup (an infusion of herbs adds a touch of sophistication) mixed with lemonade or iced tea. Delicious with or without vodka / gin / bourbon / tequila – your guests can choose their poison based on the alcohol you made or they came armed with.
Remember: time is money.
While it’s probably not worth weighing the cost of making hummus versus buying a jar, which Barber never did, she can offer this sad truth: no one looks at each other. make sure the hummus is homemade.
So while it might give you bragging rights that you made the crackers and bread that now work like crostini with toppings that grab everyone’s attention, ultimately the savings. are not sufficient to justify the time, effort, and moderate appreciation. There is, however, one exception to this rule, which Barber is quick to point out: “Guacamole is always better from scratch, although it costs more. “