Football season has arrived and with that comes the all-important tailgate. The cost of food and drinks can add up quickly, so here are a few tips to party without paying too much.

Search for sales
Now that summer’s technically over you may be able to find great deals on products like grills and camping furniture. Stores are trying to get rid of summer merchandise to make room for fall items. Don’t forget about virtual deals too. You can often find incredible savings by shopping online.

 Planning is everything
The first step to a successful and affordable tailgate is planning. Get a head count of all your guests and then decide on your menu. Check your local grocery store’s weekly ad and find budget friendly recipes online. Create a list of ingredients and items you’ll need so you can stay on task while wandering the aisles. Select the store brand instead of the expensive one; it can help save dollars in the long run. Also, it may be helpful to plan your snacks around sales.

Buy in bulk
If you’re feeding a large crowd, stop by a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club. You’ll find many of your essentials at a lower cost when you buy in bulk.

If you’re providing all the food, why not ask your guests to bring their own drinks or everyone can bring a snack? Send out an email or set up a Facebook group asking everyone to bring their favorite summer beer, cocktail or nonalcoholic beverage. Create a list so everyone knows who is bringing what.

Serve it up for less
Stop by your local dollar store to find cutlery, plates, cups and everything else you’ll need to serve up your delicious dishes. You can also find inexpensive decorations, such as balloons and streamers to create a festive atmosphere.

Now that you have a few tips for tailgating on a budget we’d love to hear from you. Do you have secrets to a great tailgate party? Share them in the comments.