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Throwing a backyard bash on a dime

A few simple tips for throwing a budget-friendly shindig this summer
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Aimee Keane, July 12, 2013 1:34:48 PM

This year, summer seems to be more of a state of mind than a state of weather. Flash flooding, hail, and seasonally low temps have hit many parts of the country, leaving most of us feeling less than amped to get outside. I’m pretty confident that we’re going to get to squeeze out a few great summer nights before the leaves turn, so why not host a low key shin dig chez vous?

I’m a huge fan of the do it yourself party – I’m not talking arts and crafts per se, but the lay it all out and let guests help themselves approach. You take care of everything in advance, and then enjoy the rest of the party with your lovely guests. Here’s how:

Handling the drinks
The signature party drink trend is a great way to keep the momentum of a themed party going, but when it comes to summer entertaining with a simple backyard bash, leave the mixing up to the guests. Lay out all of the fixings – soda, juice, lemons, limes, and the alcohol options of your choice and. Grab a large bucket, fill it with ice and keep the must-chill items cold – beer and wine are always good to have on hand.

If you’re dying to bust out a pitcher-worthy punch, why not make good use of the wine your guests bring and whip up a good sangria (and use up the sauv blanc that you may not drink out of your own will). Prep the ingredients for a few pitchers and you can top them up with the extra vino.

Figuring out the food
You’re hosting a simple outdoor gathering, not a black tie dinner. It’s time to strike a balance between a plate of crackers and full rib roast – and that’s called a little light nosh. The tapas thing is very in (in my opinion, it should never go out), and is conducive to a group of friends hanging out in the backyard. Prep a spread of your favourite snacks – cheeses, bread, veggies, and a couple of spreads. The idea of party planning totally solo is honourable and quite Martha Stewart, but take any help that comes your way. If your girlfriend insists on being a part of the process (and just so happens to be the guacamole aficionado), just go right ahead and take her up on it.

Keeping it cozy
The temp is going to plummet as soon as the sun goes down. No fancy fire pit feature in the backyard to keep your guests warm? Be a superstar hostess and stash a few cozy throws in a basket near the back door. My pick is a classic cream knit throw that will likely not clash with your guests’ ensembles.

Oh, and don’t forget to set the playlist before the doorbell rings. Enjoy!

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