So you decided not to plan a trip for the long weekend, wanting instead to spend those 3 luxurious days solely relaxing. But, now you find yourself wondering why you’re the only one not talking about an exciting impending Memorial Day party and you feel a little left out. You make the spontaneous decision to invite a few friends over for some outdoor socializing and more importantly, cooking on the grill, but you’re on a budget of time, money and ideas. Where do you go now? Cue the Superman music, people. We’re here to save the day.
The three key ingredients to a great get-together are: 1. Food, 2. Decor, and 3. Entertainment and we’re going to show you how to do all three flawlessly, without racing against the clock or breaking into your piggy bank.
The best idea is to go to a Farmers’ Market or a local market that features local produce and meats to find the ingredients for your cookout’s main event dishes. Not only are you getting great quality products, they’re also (usually) less expensive than your large grocery conglomerate. To check out the Farmers’ Markets in your area, see a full list here! We suggest doing a pasta salad full of veggies for the main side because it makes sense economically, is super colorful and heart-healthy and is always a crowd-pleaser! As for the star of the show, find a local lean ground beef (budget about 4 burgers/pound of meat), throw in some mustard and brown sugar (you’re welcome) and cook up a killer burger. If you have guests that don’t prefer red meat, go for chicken thighs over breasts. The meat is better AND it’s cheaper!
The best part about summertime bashes is the informal-ness of it all, right? That’s why we don’t see a problem in asking your guests to bring a small covered dish– we’re talkin’ some chips n’ guacamole, not foie gras. Not only can this open up riveting recipe conversations between two strangers, but it cuts down on the money and time you’ll have to spend in the kitchen.
It’s hard to accomplish the task of getting your outdoor party space to be inviting, warm, relaxing, fun, and energetic all at the same time — but it’s possible. We want your guests to feel so at ease when they walk in that they wish they would have brought a sleeping bag. How do you do it? Grab every place mat, serving dish, plastic cup, ceramic bowl that you own. It sounds a little crazy, but mixing and matching is so in right now. Patterns, colors, textures, you name it. Maybe it’s the ‘more the merrier’ mentality or maybe it incorporates every sense of style, giving your guests something to relate to. Whatever the reason is, we’re not arguing.
Make multiple flower centerpieces for your tables with mason jars, vases and glasses. It makes a bold and summery statement! Possibly the only thing you may need to go out and buy (if you don’t already have it) is some lighting if your bash is going to continue past sun-down. Lighting changes mood more than you think and you can get really creative if you have it in you! Try: tea tree lights, string lights, luminaria (aka paper lanterns) or make-your-own cupcake lights! (Pictured below).
No live band necessary, promise. If you want to take a playlist from your phone to the next level, download (this is going to sound strange) the ‘WeddingDJ‘ app. This app lets you add separate lists within a playlist to determine what tempo and style you want. You can’t have dinner music playing when your guests want a dance party, can you!? It also lets your friends to get involved by taking requests for what songs they want to hear next, and prevents awkward silences by fading into a song automatically. In a nutshell, its basically like hiring your own DJ, for under $5!
Fab food? Delightful decorations? Exciting entertainment? Check, check and check. And with extra money, time and sanity to boot? This may be the best spontaneous decision you’ve ever made!