Summer is synonymous with barbecues, but it doesn’t mean you have to burn through a lot of dough in order to host the party of the century. But, when you start dishing out cash on meats and alcoholic drinks, it may seem impossible to cut costs. So, before you send out a single invitation, learn how to throw a bangin’ barbecue without blowing your budget.

Relocate your party

Instead of going on a spending spree sprucing up your backyard to make it barbecue party ready, consider hosting your soiree somewhere other than your own home to help cut costs. Coupons.com consumer savings expert Jeanette Pavini suggests checking into local parks or at the beach for an inexpensive way to get people together.

Rethink your meat

You don't have to serve up slabs of meat to please a party. Try cutting up your meat and pairing with veggies on kabobs to trim the fat on costs without skimping on flavor. Or, set up a taco station with ground or pre-chopped meats for a festive feast filled with flavor while still cutting costs.

Get creative with libations

Individual bottles or premium spirits can add up quickly, but it doesn't mean you have to have a dry party when trying to save money. Consider tapping into a keg of beer or look for cocktails that can be mixed in large batches. "Sangria is another great option because you can make it ahead of time and a little goes a long way," shares Pavini. "Buy whatever fruit is on sale, combine it with a bargain bottle of wine, add carbonated water and a sweetener like orange juice. Chill overnight and you're ready to go."

Serve local fare

The most affordable cuisine can usually be found in your own backyard -- or at least at your local farmers market. Produce and other goodies grown by local farmers are not only more flavorful because they're fresher, they're likely to save you a few bucks since you're buying what's in season. For those hosting a party near the coast, look to local seafood vendors for the freshest and most affordable alternatives to expensive meats.

Reuse your propane tank

When firing up the grill for your party, you can cut costs on propane by refilling or exchanging your barbecue propane tank. "Bring in your old one and swap it for a new one at supermarkets, gas stations, hardware and home improvement stores. There's no need to buy new and pay twice as much," shares Pavini.

Want to cut costs even more?^ Ask your closest friends or family to bring a side dish when they ask what they can do to help with your party. That way, you can focus your cash flow on the details that eat up more of your budget, like meats and drinks. Although this may seem like a small suggestion, it can be the biggest money saving tip for throwing a bangin' barbecue without blowing your budget.

Read more party planning tips

How to host a kid-friendly but elegant dinner party
Food bars for parties
4th of July cocktail recipes

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Sherri Kuhn July 06, 2012
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I love doing kabobs, we just did that for the 4th! Great way to stretch the meat, and colorful too.