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Tips for Entertaining Guests Outdoors on a Budget

by Tara Kuczykowski on June 17, 2015 · 2 comments

If you follow my other blog, you already know that I'm over-the-moon excited at the prospect of having a new deck and patio added to our backyard very soon! I was really hoping that the project would be complete before our annual 4th of July gathering, but alas, the rainy, wet weather has put a damper on those wishes. So in the meantime, I've been shopping for some lovely and durable dinnerware and serving pieces to use when entertaining guests.

Because custom additions to the plans, like an attached bar, shady pergola and stone seat walls bumped us right up against the limits of our budget for the project, I've tried very hard to keep my other spending in check. Especially since we still need to find the perfect top for our bar, since it wasn't included in the estimate. (Anyone know of a good resource for granite in the Columbus, Ohio area?)

So when I spied these colorful melamine serving pieces and coordinating plastic plates at Meijer marked at 25% off their already low prices, I knew I had to snag them now! The round serving tray is easily my favorite piece and was a total steal at just $12.99. Not just for serving, I love to use serving trays to corral like items together, creating an eye-catching snack area.

And when the unexpected rain shower passes through, they make it easy to dash inside with several items at a time. How do I know? Because I totally had to do this while shooting the images for this post, lol!

The wet, muggy weather has also brought out a plethora of icky insects. I already bought all of the supplies to make some of these gorgeous wine bottle tiki torches -- I just need to finish off a few more bottles of wine! (Woe is me, right?)

But these Tiki citronella wax candles should do the trick nicely for the moment, so I can enjoy a glass of bug-free wine. Added bonus -- the color coordinates perfectly with the serving pieces.

Outdoor entertaining on a budget doesn't mean you have to resort to chips and pretzels to feed your guests. I quickly pulled together this slightly more elegant and upscale spread from produce and pantry staple items that I always keep on hand -- pistachios, roasted almonds, snacking tomatoes and kalamata olives.

If you have a little more time to spare, I highly recommend toasting a batch of these smoky spiced almonds. Guests always rave about them!

A platter of cheese and crackers rounds everything out nicely. If you haven't taken the time to peruse Meijer's cheese offerings lately, you're missing out! They have an amazing selection of cheeses, one of my favorites being this yummy Brie with herbs. A little goes a long way, making this $5.99 well spent.

These peach Moscato wine slushies pair with everything nicely -- and they're perfect for last minute entertaining. Make up the frozen wine slush mix ahead of time, and store it in the freezer for easy adult beverages any time. Simply blend with a little more Moscato, garnish and serve when guests arrive!

By the way, would you believe that the wine glasses in the photo above are acrylic?! My husband totally thought they were glass until he picked one up. Another score at Meijer, I picked up a 4-pack of these babies for just $7.99. You can bet I'm heading back ASAP to grab a couple more sets!

What are your favorite tips for entertaining guests outdoors on a budget?

I'm thrilled to be collaborating with Meijer on an ongoing monthly feature to help you save more! Follow them on Twitter and Instagram to see more of what you can expect to find in stores.