How to Plan the Perfect Outdoor Dinner Party On a Budget

The season of patio parties is upon us and everyone is planning their own shindig. How can you ensure yours stands out and gets remembered?

Is it possible to throw a legendary backyard bash without breaking the bank?

The short answer: yes! You can make this event one for the books without going bankrupt. All it takes is creativity, resourcefulness, and some awesome DIYs.

Before you pull out the credit card, read the tips below. Here are the best ways to throw an affordable outdoor dinner party everyone will love.

1. Affordable Décor

You don’t have to remodel your patio to have a beautiful space. There are tons of fun and affordable outdoor décor ideas to choose from.

To start, every outdoor dinner party needs flowers. That could mean a lush flower garden, potted plants, or flower centerpieces.

Instead of paying a florist for expensive stems, consider picking the wildflowers native to your area. Even some weeds, like dandelions, look stunning in a vase. If you find acorns or interesting stones in your yard, use them as décor on the table.

Another hack for cheap décor is going to the fabric store. Sort through the scraps bin to find a mix of interesting patterns. Cut them into identical squares to use as eclectic dinner napkins.

2. Accept Help

Most people will offer to bring something when they get invited to a barbeque. For this backyard bash, accept their help.

It’s far too expensive to pay for all the ingredients and booze. Let your guests bring something they’re excited to share.

You could even make it a potluck. Try to organize who will bring each item so there are no duplicates. And, know who will need to use the grill in advance.

As the host, it’s nice to provide the star of the meal: steak. Opt for a grilled rubbed ribeye recipe to get their mouths watering.

Not only does accepting help lower your costs, but there’s less cleaning after. Everyone brings home the dish they brought. Win-win!

3. Night Lighting

As your party rolls into the evening, you’ll need ambient lighting. It makes the atmosphere feel relaxing and fun.

It’s trendy to buy string lantern lights to hang across the patio. But, if you don’t want to spend money on these, there are other options.

Break out the Christmas lights you strung around the house last winter. These make perfect summer patio party lights. String them across your backyard from the rooftop to the fence.

For the tables and pathways, buy some tea lights from the dollar store. Place them in canning jars around the patio.

4. Communal Drinks Table

It’s usually common knowledge that backyard dinner parties are BYOB. In some cases, the host will prepare a special cocktail for the guests.

Try to get a solid head count of how many guests you’ll have early on. This prevents you from making too much of any drink and spending too much.

Consider making a drink station with large jugs of sangria starter. It could have all the ingredients except the alcohol which guests can add themselves.

The station could have a mix of drink options that guests can add to their booze. Include soda water, tonic, cranberry juice, and lots of ice.

To dress up the table, put all the beverages in decanters and glass jugs. Ensure you decorate it with flowers.

5. Functional Ambiance

What’s the one thing that can ruin your entire patio party? Bloodsucking mosquitoes and flies.

Do whatever you can to make your guests comfortable and bite-free. Prevent these annoying buggers from getting near the table.

Use citronella candles and torches. Not only do they prevent mosquitoes, but they add to the ambiance. Avoid candle scents that detract from the flavors of the meal.

Remove any sitting water from your yard a few days before the party. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. That includes dog water bowls, fountains, and puddles from the garden hose.

6. DIY Lawn Games

Besides the food and socialization, people come to patio parties for entertainment. That could mean setting out some instruments for an impromptu jam session. Or, having games ready to play.

Lawn games are crowd-pleasers at most outdoor parties. They get people out of their seats and socializing with each other.

Ask your neighbors, family, and guests if they have any lawn games you could borrow. Some common ones are croquet, horseshoes, and bocce ball.

You can also DIY some fun and easy lawn games. A sandbag toss is one of the easiest. All you need to do is paint a sheet of wood with holes in it. Label each hole with a point value and fill some bags with sand or soil.

Piñatas are also fun for dinner parties, especially when the prizes are fun for adults. Consider filling it with mini alcohol bottles, lotto cards, and gag gifts.

7. Creative Seating

You don’t necessarily need to have a formal sit-down dinner party. If you place all the food on a buffet table, guests can serve themselves and find a seat.

Add extra seating to accommodate more people. Besides patio chairs, place cushions and pillows around the patio. Consider getting a decorative outdoor carpet to put on the patio first.

If you have lots of lawn space, provide a stack of blankets. Guests can sit on them on the grass. Or, wrap them around themselves when it gets cooler in the evening.

Does your backyard have a swimming pool for guests to have fun in? Consider getting some extra floaties for people to lounge on.

Ready to Plan an Epic Outdoor Dinner Party?

Your backyard bash can go down in history as the best night of the summer. And, you don’t have to go broke doing so.

All you need to do is follow the tips above for planning an affordable outdoor dinner party. Always accept help from guests and reuse items you already have, like décor.

Each year, far too many hosts spend money on unnecessary items for their events. Learn which items to stop wasting money on and which ones are worth the investment.

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