Spend a little to get a lot of big summer fun with this easy summer party idea.
Gaucho Steak with Four-Herb Chimichurri
Credit: Victor Protasio

The heat of summer leaves us clamoring to get outdoors and host a blow-out barbecue for friends and family around the pool or near the sprinklers. The only problem with the big "B" word (barbecue) is the other big "B" word: Budget.

Inviting friends over for the day on the back porch sounds delightful, but the little purchases add up. Even if you're only buying burgers, the cost of picking up the meat needed for twenty burgers, plus buns, toppings, drinks, sides, and desserts, can add up quickly.

Skip the traditional potluck solution and throw a B.Y.O.Beef party instead. As host, you take care of a few simple sides (think baked beans, chips, and coleslaw) as well as dessert (brownies or ice cream sundaes) and drinks (make big pitchers of iced tea or lemonade ahead of time). On the invitation, invite guests to bring their entrée of choice.

Part of the fun of a B.Y.O.Beef party is seeing what everyone brings. Some guests will show up with steaks while others bring brats or the makings of a mean burger. The other plus? Little Timmy's parents can bring his hotdog and Aunt Jane can cart along her standard vegan black bean burger. Translation? Everyone's happy, which is the start or a perfect summer party.

When planning a B.Y.O.Beef party, make sure to convey the idea to your guests on the invitation. Make it clear that you'll supply the sides, sweets, and drinks, plus standard condiments, so there won't be any confusion.

Before guests arrive, get the grill going so that it's ready to go when they get there. Another bonus? Every guest at the party gets to play grillmaster, which helps newly acquainted invitees mix and mingle as they discuss best-grilling strategies and the quest for the perfect sear.

Organize the grilling area so that there are coolers to keep the meats cool before cooking, a designated trash area for the discarded meat wrappers, and a stack of clean plates beside the grill for guests to use for their finished product. Keep buckets of chilled beer or your homemade lemonade nearby for the meat masters to sample if they begin to feel the heat of the flames. Set up a table a few feet away, to keep the high-traffic area clear, and load it up with budget-friendly sides that can be made in bulk like potato salad, chips, and a grilled vegetable salad.

Tight budgets don't have to mean that summer entertaining dreams go out the window. Instead, simply marry your talents and funds to create a memorable event that's fun for all without draining anyone's wallet. Chances are, the B.Y.O.Beef party may just become a monthly neighborhood event.