June is a busy month for us, and also features Miss A’s birthday. On her first birthday, we hosted an open house for all friends and family where all day people arrived and left. We had the barbecue running all day, drinks were flowing, and empty snack and salad bowls were being refilled as they emptied.
It was an amazing day, and we got to catch up and spend time with those closest to us. What we didn’t realise however was that it became a tradition every year without us realising it. On Miss A’s first birthday, we didn’t think about cost, it was her first birthday and was very special, but as the years have gone on, we have had other costs to consider, so our traditional barbecue party has seen some tweaks without hopefully losing any of the sparkle of her birthday.
We have learned that we don’t need to provide the drink for everyone. A simple “bring a bottle” in the text was enough on her second birthday for people to automatically bring something in future years.
I dread to think how much we spent on that first open house party, but as Miss A is eight now, we have learnt a lot over the years and now our costs are a lot less. We have tried a few ideas over the years with friends and family. Sometimes we ask everyone to bring a dish of food, this could be a bowl of crisps, a pizza, a salad etc. Just something that doesn’t cost a lot of money but goes towards the meal. As people stay for quite a few hours, there is a lot of grazing that happens with food. No-one ever seems to eat a full meal which is nice as there’s no structure or urgency to the day and everyone is relaxed.
As hosts we always supply the meat unless someone wishes to bring something in particular for their personal needs or taste. We also make sure we have plenty of soft drink for people, and any alcohol is brought by the guests.
We have started deviating away from the standard burgers and sausages with buns over the years as it can often be cheaper to make some vegetarian skewers, add corn on the cob and other additions to the traditional meat served on a barbecue.
I have also started to be clever with my side dishes and snacks as you can buy or make a pizza for very little which when cut up into small sections feeds a lot of people. Potato skins are also very filling and are great to pick at with a dip on the side.
Pasta and rice salad is so quick, easy and cheap to make with a variety of fillings, and all of these food items on the menu fill your guests up without providing expensive pieces of meat sold in barbecue packs.
Dessert is usually the birthday cake, but I will usually make extra cupcakes to ensure everyone gets something after the cake has been cut. This helps as I don’t have to buy more than one birthday cake in case one doesn’t stretch to everyone.
If you enjoy entertaining, I hope some of my ideas will help you enjoy the Summer without spending a fortune on food.