With summer right around the corner and the opportunity to gather again, many of us will be hosting our summer parties. Yay! But with the rising costs of all of the things we’re looking to keep our festivities affordable. Here are 5 tips for how to host a stylish party with fabulous food and drink on a budget.

– This post has been updated for 2022 –

Related: 11 brilliant food and drink summer party hacks for easy entertaining

Save money on your fab summer party

1. Buy inexpensive cuts of meat in bulk

If you’re going to be serving meat, which can get expensive for a crowd, be sure to look for family-sized packs that are priced more affordably. And skip the fancy stuff: Less expensive cuts like chicken thighs (which are more flavorful than breasts anyway) and flank steak are perfect for when you’re feeding a large group. If you’re looking for tips on how to grill for a crowd, we’ve got that too.

Related: Grilling for a crowd: Tips and over 10 easy ideas for your next outdoor party

Hosting a big summer party on the cheap | Bruschetta Bar at What's Gaby Cooking
Bruschetta Bar | What’s Gaby Cooking

2. Go heavy on the appetizers

Honestly, who doesn’t love making a meal of great appetizers? Cut down on the amount of more-expensive meat that you have to buy (and cook) by creating a robust and elegant Bruschetta Bar like this one that we found at What’s Gaby Cooking. There’s a lot of stuff in the spread, but a smart combination of inexpensive store-bought staples (like hummus, salsa, fresh pesto) and easy recipes (caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, roasted cherry tomatoes) makes a fab presentation without spending tons of cash.


We love these tips on how to host a summer party on a budget, especially how to put together a fancy cheese plate like this on at Honestly Yum using just supermarket ingredients
Cheese Plate | Honestly Yum

3. Make a fancy cheese plate with not-so-fancy supermarket ingredients

No party is complete without a cheese plate and with our tips on how to make a fancy cheese plate with supermarket ingredients you can put out a killer spread on the cheap, like the gorgeous cheese plate we found at Honestly Yum (above). Make it big enough and combine with something like the Bruschetta Bar (#2) and you may be able to skip proper mains all together.

Related: Easy make-ahead appetizers for your Labor Day cookout

Host a wine tasting party | Printables by Julie Blanner

Wine Tasting Printables | Julie Blanner

4. Ask your guests to help with the wine… in a clever way

Wine for a crowd can really add up. Since guests always love bringing something, be specific and ask them to help with the beverage bar. (Did you really need those flowers anyway?) Ask guests to bring their favorite wine or non-alcoholic wine turn it into a tasting party! You can find free printables online for the blind tasting scorecard, like these featured above from Julie Blanner.

Related: How to host a beer tasting party


Summer Party Ideas | S'mores Party Bar at What's Gaby Cooking
S’mores Party Bar | What’s Gaby Cooking

5. Skip the elegant (but pricey) bakery desserts

Part of having fun at your own party is making sure that you don’t take on too much work and, for me, that means relying on store-bought desserts. The only problem is that stylish cakes and other impressive bakery goods that look fabulous enough for a party can also cost a fortune. Instead, get creative with inexpensive grocery store sweets like graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate, or plain old ice cream. The S’mores Bar that we found at What’s Gaby Cooking strikes me as the perfect way to end a final summer hurrah.