UPDATED: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 1:53pm
(StatePoint) There is no better place to entertain on a warm sunny day than in your own backyard. But before the parties start, make sure your outdoor space is a place where people want to spend time.
In 2010 and 2011, Americans spent approximately $359 billion on improving their homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's a median cost of $3,200 per household. But you don’t need to spend a ton to make significant improvements to your outdoor space.
Whether you’re enjoying a small gathering with family or hosting a big celebration, a few simple changes can set the stage for fun, without breaking the bank.
“The key to outdoor entertaining is ensuring your outdoor space is a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for everyone,” said Sharon VanRoo, Seasonal Category Lead at Sam’s Club. “A good tip for transforming your backyard is to invest in a few quality accessories that will last beyond one season.”
Ask about guarantees and ensure furniture and patio cushions are weather proof or listed as “all-weather.”
Here are some other budget-friendly tips for preparing your backyard for entertaining.
Set the tone for your outdoor space by using color as an accent. Emerald green, the 2013 Pantone Color of the Year, is the hot color this year for outdoor décor. Neutrals and reds are also a good way to utilize your budget, as these colors are consistently on trend.
And if you’re not sure of the best way to accessorize your outdoor space, look for ideas and extra savings in outdoor living  departments at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club.
You can elevate the outdoor experience with inexpensive touches, such as replacement cushions, an outdoor rug, throw pillows, a chaise lounge, stack chairs or planters. Lighting options from reused holiday lights to solar-powered lanterns are another easy way to create an inviting ambiance without spending a lot of money.
Prepare in Advance
The best way to reduce stress and stretch your budget is to plan ahead. By stocking up on essentials in advance, such as beverages, snacks and paper goods, hosts will be well prepared for company.
When hosting a grilling gathering, get creative and think beyond the hamburger bun. Fresh fish and vegetables are healthy options to throw into the mix and not as costly as you think.
Buying fresh meat and produce in bulk is a better value that brings high quality entrees and sides to your gathering. Fruits and sweets, like peaches and pound cake, are delicious when grilled.
Keep Bugs Away
Where there are outdoor parties, there are bugs to crash them. Position citronella candles around dining and cocktail tables as table décor and as protection from unwanted flying visitors.
Use mesh food covers to protect buffet settings and unattended plates while guests mingle and consider vacuum sealing leftovers for the next party or visitors. You can find more ideas for your backyard at www.Samsclub.com/outdoorliving .
Refresh the guest list and spruce up the backyard. It’s time to head outdoors and share the excitement of summer with company.