Does the thought of throwing an Independence Day BBQ bash give you visions of your budget going up in flames? In 2017, the National Retail Federation predicted that Americans would spend over $7 billion dollars on Independence Day cookouts and picnics. Between the food, decorations, travel, and entertainment, it can be easy to rack up costs before you get one taste of that beautiful rack of ribs.
With these five tips and a little planning, you won’t have to break the bank to keep your guests happy.
Save On MeatsMeat is one category that can quickly bust your event budget. To save money on your meat selection, forgo the more expensive cuts of beef and chicken in favor of skirt or flank steaks and boneless chicken thighs and legs. These meats taste great when grilled, and your guests won’t even dream about swapping them out for a porterhouse. Many supermarkets and butchers offer great deals on meats around the holidays, so skim over your favorite establishment’s weekly ads or their social media pages so you won’t miss out on special offers. Add in your favorite DIY marinade or rub, and give yourself brownie points for saving even more money. Check out these marinade and rub recipes for more tasty ideas.
Watch Your Fuel UseIt is easy to get distracted by friends and family when you are supposed to be watching the grill. Give your grill ample time to heat up, but be ready to throw on the meats when it is at the proper temperature. Also, remember to turn the grill off immediately when you are done cooking to avoid wasting more fuel. If charcoal is your preference, Kingsford offers several tips for configuring your charcoal grill. Check your propane and charcoal supplies ahead of the holiday to keep from making a last minute run to the store.
Decorate on a DimeKeep the décor festive but don’t go overboard by choosing simple and inexpensive items like glass mason jars. Fill them with fresh flowers or greenery from your garden and tie on a piece of burlap or red ribbon. Purchasing tablecloths and paper products from the dollar store can also help you make the most of your decoration budget. If you entertain often, look for neutral items such as metal buckets or clear pitchers and serving dishes that can be reused for future events. Add color and flair with ribbons, table cloths, and flowers that can be tailored to the specific holiday.
Involve Your Friends and FamilyTurn your gathering into a potluck by including family and friends in the cooking. Invite guests to bring chips and dips, signature side dishes, or their favorite desserts. You know your Aunt Martha is dying to make her crowd pleasing oriental slaw and your cousin Jane doesn’t miss an opportunity to bake up a batch of homemade brownies. Being prepared to suggest no-prep, easy to pick up items like chips, bread, ice, drinks, or watermelon for those who don’t enjoy cooking can make asking for help even easier.
Find Free or Low Cost Entertainment
Look for items around your house that can be used for “Minute to Win It” style games that will have your guests vying to be named the party champion. These games take little time to play so players can frequently rotate in and out between eating, drinking, and chatting. If you are expecting children, pick up a few bubble wands and some sidewalk chalk, or cover the kids’ table in butcher paper and commission them to cover it in their best artwork. Finally, skip the home pyrotechnics (which are illegal in most city limits), grab some folding chairs or a big blanket, and head over to watch your city’s public fireworks show.
- Montgomery Independence Day Celebration | Blount Cultural Park
- Montgomery Biscuits Game with MAX Fireworks | Biscuits Stadium
- City of Prattville Independence Day Celebration | Downtown Prattville & Stanley Jensen Stadium
- City of Wetumpka | Gold Star Park
- City of Auburn | Duck Samford Park
Though the debates between who has the best BBQ and what makes a cookout different from a BBQ will continue, we can all agree that celebrating Independence Day with a fun party doesn’t have to drain your bank account. You’ll be able to focus on the spirit of the holiday and making memories with family and friends when you aren’t worried as much about the bottom line.