When you’re planning a summer garden party, whether it’s for a family get-together or a group of friends, you can easily blow your budget. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out our ideas for hosting a great summer party on a budget. From theme elements to party food ideas, and even summer mocktails for each party idea – find some inspiration below.
The Theme: Luaua
Take inspiration from Hawaii’s traditional outdoor festivities and host a summer garden party to remember. This means Beach Boys and Elvis are first on the playlist – while the odd coconut or grass skirt wouldn’t go a miss either.
The Food: Pineapples & Sausages
Pineapples are the food you can’t do without. Traditional Luauas include a pig roast: but you can do burgers if you don’t want to go the whole hog. Summer foods like tropical fruit and barbecue classics like hot dogs all have a place here.
The mocktail: Pina Nolada
A kid-friendly summer mocktail take on the classic beach drink. (Getting caught in the rain optional!)
Blend 2 ripe bananas, half a diced pineapple and half a can of coconut milk with a pint of ice cubes. Garnish with pineapple wedges and serve! Match the theme and set the scene with one or two tiki torches, and don’t forget the Hawaiian shirts and print dresses!
The Theme: Garden Camping
Take tents out into the garden and recreate a camping trip at home! This one mainly appeals to the kids – so be prepared for some of them to want to sleep in the tents. It’s all about the sense of occasion. Turn the house lights off, build a small fire or light a barbecue and tell stories. This idea is a super low budget friendly way of hosting a garden party: the less stuff you have involved, the more it feels like camping.
The Food: Camping style
There’s no simpler food for a summer party. Traditional camping food: hot dogs in buns, burgers on the barbecue, boiled eggs, beans. The more minimal the better.
The mocktail: Watermelon Slush
You can probably get by with bottles of cola for the kids. But why stop there? After dinner and while the stories get started, sneak indoors and bring out a jug of delicious Watermelon Slush. All you need to do is cube a small watermelon overnight and freeze it. The following morning, blend it with a can of unsweetened almond milk. Finish by garnishing each cup with a sprig of mint. Take a torch or two to add to the atmosphere and you’re sorted!
The Theme: Water Park Party
When the sun shines, it’s time to throw water about, but visiting a waterpark can blow a big hole in your budget. Paddling pools can be pressed into service, and longer gardens can accommodate a tarp-and-shampoo flume (watch out for where flume riders end up though!). Adults might start out refereeing the water fights, but they’ll be drawn in pretty quickly.
The Food: Classic Kids Party Food
You’re looking for a mixture of halftime snacks and summer goodies: fruit and popcorn go a long way, as do simple sandwiches and big bowls of crisps. The aim is part finger foods for parties, part emergency refuelling for hungry flumers.
The Mocktail: Strawberry Lemonade
Light and fizzy, the Strawberry Lemonade is the perfect cooler for the water park. Mix equal parts lemonade and ginger beer, mix in three or four cut strawberries for each person and add one on top as a garnish when you hand out a glass.
You can use games like water balloon toss and water balloon races to add extra fun, and remember to ask everyone to bring a spare set of clothes!
The Theme: Taco Bar Party
Taco bar parties are a fantastic summer party food idea and a great way to feed a lot of people something fun on a budget. You need just a few things to set the atmosphere: a long table outside, some Mexican-themed accessories and the tacos themselves!
The Food: Tacos
Tacos are surprisingly easy to make: at their heart they’re just ground beef mixed with salsa, making them a great garden party food idea. You’ll need 80% or more lean beef and a big jar of salsa. Add taco shells and you have the basics: cheese is expected, guacamole is an optional extra, and lettuce to serve makes the experience more appetising. Just remember not to make them too spicy. You can get vegetarian taco sauce mixes if your guests are vegetarian, so check in advance if you’re hosting a garden party for a large group.
The Mocktail: Ombré Grapefruit Mocktail
The sharp citrus flavours of the grapefruit Ombré contrast perfectly with the spicy heartiness of a good taco. They’re one of the best mocktails for parties, too, because they’re so simple to make. Each person needs 330ml of lemonade, half a glass of chilled grapefruit juice and two tablespoons of syrup. Add a teaspoonful of grenadine, pour over ice and serve!
Tacos are a great summer party food idea, but they can be a messy dinner: consider a wipe-clean tablecloth and don’t wear white!
The Theme: Fiesta!
Spain is the traditional holiday destination, triggering happy memories of sun and fun. If you’re not there this summer (yet!), try bringing the Spanish experience to your own back garden with tapas and sangria.
The Food: Tapas
A classic Spanish take on finger food for parties, tapas lets you feed a lot of people on a relatively low budget, without spending all day cooking from scratch. Go for filling foods like breads and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), with olives, salsa and spicy chicken in smaller portions, and let guests help themselves.
The Mocktail: Sangria
A satisfying alcohol-free sangria is easier to make than you’d think. Put a handful each of blueberries, raspberries and chopped apple in a pitcher, and pour in a can of soda water and a can of cold ginger beer. Right before you serve, fill up with apple juice and stir!
Remember you can make your own patatas bravas and other simple dishes, freeing up budget for more luxurious or complex touches that add to the flavour and atmosphere of the meal.
Don’t forget, portions are small, but appetites won’t necessarily be. Get extra filler foods, and consider guests who don’t like spicy things when you plan the menu.
Planning a summer garden party doesn’t need to break the bank. Simple ideas with some playfulness and style make it easier to enjoy spending time with friends and family, so why not grab some ingredients from your local convenience store and make an evening of it? If we missed out your favourite idea, visit us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!