How to Host a Budget Summer Backyard Bash

by Pam on July 7, 2014

This  #backyardbash shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Collectivebias  For more ideas on how to create your own #BackyardBash, check out the tumblr page at

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?

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin (Masshole Mommy) July 7, 2014 at 10:56 am

Yummy ice cream float idea! I usually just make root beer floats, but I like your twist using the Dr. Pepper!


Ruth Zankich July 7, 2014 at 11:11 am

Never thought about using Dr Pepper for a float! Great idea!


Robin (Masshole Mommy) July 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

I agree – it’s an awesome idea & I wonder why I never thought of it before :)


Amber NElson July 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm

What a fun backyard bash. Dr. Pepper is amazing in floats!


aimee fauci July 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm

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!


Heather July 7, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Now this is right up my alley. I don’t drink soda much but when i do it’s Dr. Pepper, I hate rootbeer!


maria @ close tohome July 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm

love the idea of the ice cream sundae bar. Yummy


Allyson July 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

This all looks delicious and so frugal! I love Dr Pepper!


Debbie Denny July 7, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Love the layout of your table. The centerpiece is cheery and cute.


Kristen from The Road to Domestication July 7, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Looks like fun! I need to find that flavor of Dr. Pepper – looks good!


Kay Adeola July 7, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Not had a ice cream float for a long time,I used to use coke rather than DR Pepper so i will have to try that.Great pics.


Ronnie July 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

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!


Terry July 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm

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.


krystalskitsch July 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I would totally love this float! Seems so refreshing!


Jennifer Williams July 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm

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


Trisha July 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm

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


Mama to 5 BLessings July 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm

That is awesome! I did not know that they made vanilla float! yummy!


Theresa July 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

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!


Debbie L. July 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm

A Dr Pepper float sounds delicious! I will be making these!


janelle July 7, 2014 at 9:36 pm

looks great! i think we all tend to go overboard, when in fact you don’t have to!


Maria Oller July 7, 2014 at 10:42 pm

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


Lisa July 7, 2014 at 11:06 pm

I love your centerpiece!


Veronica July 7, 2014 at 11:18 pm

That an awesome centerpiece. Looks like a fun celebration


April @ Everyday Fitness and Nutrition July 7, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Looks like a fun way to celebrate and enjoy the outdoors. Ice cream floats are always a big hit with my family.


Marielle Altenor July 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm

I’m probably the only person who’s never had ice cream float!


Annie July 8, 2014 at 12:33 am

I am not a fan of Dr. Pepper. However, if you sub it with orange soda, I’m all for an orange creamsicle float :)


Rebekah July 8, 2014 at 8:37 am

Yumm! I haven’t had an ice cream float in ages – thinking that may need to be remedied this week.


Liz Mays July 8, 2014 at 9:14 am

Pam, all the decor looks so great! And my gosh, that float looks positively amazing! Yummy!


Pam July 8, 2014 at 11:32 am

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.


Tough Cookie Mommy July 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I love the ice cream float. It is one of my favorite things to do with ice cream and soft drinks.


Megan @ C'mon Get Crafty July 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Ok, first pic won me over for sure – I’m a BIG fan of Dr. Pepper and ice cream floats!


Amanda July 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

What fun decorations! Perfect for a cookout! The ice cream float looks so yummy too!


Rosey July 8, 2014 at 4:46 pm

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


Sarah Bailey July 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Oh yum what some great ideas now if only we had some summer to celebrate in :) x


Elisebet F July 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm

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. ;)


Onica {MommyFactor} July 9, 2014 at 4:21 am

What fun backyard party ideas. I would love to try making the Dr.Pepper Vanilla Float. Looks so yummy.


amanda @attachedmoms July 9, 2014 at 4:35 am

What a nice summer time. Can’t beat fun with friends in the backyard!


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