6 tips for hosting low-budget barbecue

Nothing says warm weather like a good old-fashioned barbecue. But these days, grilling for friends, family and even your neighbors can get pretty pricey quickly.

Here are five tips for hosting a low-budget (and delicious!) backyard barbecue without breaking the bank:

1. Ring the dinner bell
Send out invitations to all your barbecue-loving friends, family members and neighbors. Consider even extending the invite to your closet coworkers, too! With custom photo greeting cards, you have the power to design the invitation to resemble the theme of the party. Your guests will look at the invitation and make a quick first impression, and you want that first impression to be both informative and attractive. Include the date, time, location and an email for RSVP.

2. Decorate lightly
Your guests are going to be more interested in the juicy hamburgers you're serving, not the aesthetic. If you do want to add some decorative touches to create a party-like atmosphere, head to the dollar store and pick up brightly colored table cloths and a bag of balloons.

3. Keep the meal classic
It's pretty much an unwritten rule to not get too fancy. Your barbeque is hardly the place for experimental, avant-garde cuisine. Stick to traditional fare like hamburgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs – no need to feature a gourmet spread. Be sure to lay out bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion so people can dress their burgers. If you're looking to put a little twist on the traditional meal, set up a condiment station. After all, a burger without a condiment is like a backyard without a grill – the more sauce, the better. Go above and beyond ketchup by featuring a table with varieties of mustard, mayo, guacamole, barbecue sauce, salsa and hot sauce.

4. Say no to bottled pop
Instead of putting out bottles of pop, opt for cans instead. This will prevent you from being left with half-full bottles of flat soda at the end of your barbecue. Keep the cans of pop cold by placing them in a cooler full of ice. If there are leftover cans, stick them in your fridge to enjoy at a later date.

5. Use what you have
Make use of the dishes in your cabinets instead of blowing your budget on holiday-themed plates, bowls, cups and plastic wear. Although you may have a lot to clean up, you'll be saving money in the long run. This gives you the opportunity to pull out those fancy serving platters that have been stored in boxes since the big move. And by avoiding paper and plastic wear, you're making an eco-friendly decision, too!

6. Make it a potluck
By turning your backyard barbecue into a potluck, you'll save both time and money. Kindly ask your guests to bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert. This will open up your menu to some delicious surprises. Just be sure to include a little tidbit about the potluck on the invite so guests don't show up empty handed!