How to Host a Budget Summer Backyard Bash

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Have I mentioned how much I love grilling season?  It’s my favorite time of year because I can convince one of the guys in the family we need to BBQ, which means less cooking for me.  Entertaining is also easier because I can plan outdoor parties; meaning no deep housecleaning for this lady. This year, because Bryan was off on the 4th of July, I decided to invite friends over for a backyard bash.  As usual for my family, things didn’t go as planned.  Because different friends and family members couldn’t make it on the same day,  we wound up having three different events over the weekend ranging from nine to fifteen people at each.
DrPepper Backyard Bash

I knew I wanted to incorporate a 4th of July theme, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to serve to make it a one of a kind evening. When browsing at Walmart, I spotted the limited edition Dr Pepper Vanilla Float. “I’ll have an ice cream bar,” I decided, “and let everyone make their own Dr Pepper Ice Cream Floats!” I stocked up on a variety of ice cream toppings, four different varieties of Dr Pepper, and all the items needed for our cookout. To say these were a success would be an understatement. Everyone had a great time eating bacon cheeseburgers and preparing ice cream sundaes and floats.   Here’s the incredibly simple recipe for a Dr Pepper Ice Cream Float.
DrPepper Backyard Bash  Store Photo

Place two scoops of your favorite flavor of ice cream into a glass. (We used vanilla).  Fill the glass to the brim with ice cold Dr Pepper Vanilla Float soft drink. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately.

When I am asked about planning parties, especially themed parties, people seem to think they have to be expensive.  Here are three tips to throw a backyard bash without breaking the bank.
1.  Use mix and match accessories. I wanted to use red, white and blue plates and linens but didn’t have a complete set. I had several different sets of blue rimmed plates and combined them with white saucers to create a set that matched “close enough.”  I did the same with my white and silver forks and mismatched napkins.  Everyone commented on how pretty the table settings where and how nice it was to eat from dinner plates instead of Styrofoam.
budget tablescape

2. Shop at thrift stores for accessories.  Many of my plates and linens came from thrift store 3 for $1.99 or 4 for $2.00 sales. Don’t limit yourself to tableware. Brightly colored sheets, pillow cases and throw pillows give the bbq a touch of elegance.

ice cream bar

Keep drinks and snacks, like Cheez-Its, on hand in case guests get the munchies before dinner. Keep an extra supply of ice in a Coleman cooler beside the table.

3.  Make centerpieces by using items lying around the house and items from the dollar store.  By using a metal tray and lanterns I already had and adding a piece of red, white and blue glitter string and star led lights from the dollar store,  I created an inexpensive centerpiece I can easily change for different  occasions while only spending $3.00.  Plus, the glitter string and candles take up barely any room and can be stored for the next year.
4ht of july centerpiece

I captured this photo of my daughter on the 4th of July enjoying her Dr Pepper float. It cracks me up whenever I look at it. Plus, I managed to catch a few candid shots, even with everyone yelling, “Don’t take my picture!” I also got a lot of shots of people ducking out of the way. Our friends and relatives appear to be camera shy.


You can see our instagram video of our decor here.  (I have to find more cooperative friends and family members when it comes to video and pictures!) What are your favorite tips for hosting a backyard bash?


  1. says

    Love your tip on the thrift store! We just went to goodwill and I found a set of dishes for my daughter and then some ice cream bowls and oh ya.. that Vanilla DP— the bomb!

  2. says

    I really like how you set up the food. Not everyone has a knack for making things look so organizing and inviting. Hope you guys had a great 4th of July!

  3. says

    We just had our summer bash today. I didn’t get a lot of decorating done since I have been overly busy, but we had a great time anyway.
    Your decorations and food look fantastic.

  4. Jennifer Williams says

    I wonder if my boys would like the floats, they like the regular Dr. Pepper. I have not brought home the vanilla yet though.

  5. says

    I’m all about budget friendly everything and these are some great tips! The Dr. Pepper Ice cream Float looks and sounds delirious!

  6. says

    I don’t know why I never thought to use a different soda other than root beer. My girls aren’t fans of root beer, but they do love Dr. Pepper. I am going to treat them to a Dr. Pepper float real soon!

  7. Maria Oller says

    Yummy I might have to do i for my husband this week, he loves floats and dr pepper he will love a dr pepper float even more

  8. Pam says

    How fun! Love your decor and your dessert. The float looks absolutely yummy. I love to decorate too when I host a backyard party and always make sure there is lots of food.

  9. says

    Backyard bashes are the best. You know they’re good because it’s friends and family coming if it’s in your backyard. :)

  10. Elisebet F says

    I love the centerpiece! So simple, yet perfect for a patriotic barbecue. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a Dr. Pepper float, but I like Dr. Pepper, and I like ice cream…seems like a win win. 😉

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