It’s almost my favorite time of year. As my regular readers know, I am perpetually smitten with summer. I adore the sunshine-filled weather, the long days, the vibrant flowers and lush green trees, the fashion (give me all the flow-y dresses!) – pretty much everything about the season has my heart. And one of my most favorite things to do this time of year is to host summer get-togethers with friends.
Recently, I had plans to visit my sister in Indianapolis, and we decided to put together an intimate gathering with a few close friends to welcome summer while I was there. Like me, she has a small space (her patio) for backyard entertaining, so our goal was to spruce it up and add some ambiance without spending a lot of money. I ended up putting together a simple menu of summer-inspired snacks that included cheese and fruit trays, chips and homemade salsa, a s’mores tray, lemonade and lemon water, homemade sangria, and fruity sodas on ice. For decor, we added a simple banner, some fresh cut flowers, some paper straws and flag drink stirrers (super easy to make; just wrap washi tape around wood skewers), a painted chalkboard sign, and some TIKI Brand torches and tabletop torches. We played music, talked for hours, and had a truly great time celebrating the season. And by focusing on doing things ourselves, we were able to save a lot of money while still creating a festive, colorful atmosphere.
With Memorial Day coming this weekend, I thought that this would be the perfect time to share some tips on how to create your own simple summer backyard gathering on a budget. These suggestions are based on things I’ve learned over the years with my own summer get-together planning, through trial error. (And after that, you’ll have a chance to win some TIKI Brand products of your own!)
Keep the food simple and make it yourself.
There’s no need to have your summer party catered, especially if you’re keeping things small. And hosting barbecues or dinners can be fun, but if you’re looking to put together something budget-friendly and without a lot of hassle, stick to snacks and items that don’t need to be cooked. Buy a couple of blocks of good cheese to slice, some crackers, some fresh fruit, chips, etc. If you have a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, create a fun DIY s’mores tray for a sweet treat after the sun goes down.
For decor, focus on color and ambience.
Rather than spending a ton of money on elaborate decor or hiring someone to decorate, focus on a few key items that will make a statement and can be put together by you. For our gathering, we threw up a plain neutral banner, then incorporated color through the details: a bouquet of bright orange roses, a bowl of lemons, colorful fruit sodas, and some bright yellow paint on the frame of a $3 chalkboard for our ‘Welcome Summer’ sign. We also added several TIKI Brand torches (several Island King Large Flame Torches, a Glowing Table Torch, and some Molded Glass Tabletop Torches), which transformed the space with a whole new look and feel in minutes. The flames remained rich and vibrant into the evening, and the Citronella Torch Fuel help keep the mosquitoes away (bonus!).
Be your own DJ.
My husband works in the music industry, and a lot of the summer gatherings we attend (even the smaller ones) have hired DJs, bands, or musicians. You can still have a great night of music (complete with spontaneous dance parties) without having to hire professionals. Create a party playlist on your phone in advance and let your friends choose the songs throughout the night. It’s fun and it’s free.
Team up with a friend or a family member and co-host. It’s much easier to save money and DIY your food and decor when you have another set of hands to help create and another head to help come up with ideas. My sister and I put our gathering together last minute and on a serious budget, but by working as a team, it was incredibly easy and turned out beautifully.
I love big summer parties, but the amount of work and money involved to throw one makes them infinitely less appealing to me than more intimate gatherings. Inviting a few friends over for an informal get-together can be just as fun as hosting a big bash, and it’s the perfect way to still be able to have fun decorating and preparing food without a big investment.
This post was sponsored by TIKI Brand. All opinions are 100% mine.