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Chynna Mela is a senior journalism student at Temple University and an SC Campus Representative. She can usually be found planning her fall wedding to Harry Styles, attempting to become the female version of Perez Hilton, or eating peanut butter straight from the jar. Check out more posts by her here.

My mom decided to take an interesting route in order to teach me life lessons. She would call me into the living room, stick on a Lifetime movie, and then after quiz me about what I learned.

“Do you see why you should never be afraid to tell me anything?”
“Do you see what happens when you run away from home?”
“Do you see what happens when you become involved in an international cheating scandal to help slacker high school students get into college?!”

I would nod my head and skip off to my room to digest the far-fetched, dramatic, and somewhat disturbing two hours of bad acting I had just endured. I have a Lifetime movie catalog in my brain that any stay at home mom would be jealous of.

My parents are also obsessed with the movie The Godfather. How obsessed? They named my younger brother after a character in it. His name is Santino Michael and we call him Sonny. I’m serious. Considering their obsession it is only right that they utilize the movie and figure out a life lesson to teach me from it. Whenever we leave the house to attend a family party, BBQ, small get together, etc. someone yells out “DON’T FORGET THE CANNOLIS!”. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean don’t forget to open the refrigerator and grab the box of delicious Italian pastries to bring to the party (though it often does). It simply means: DON’T forget what you bought to bring to the party because you never, ever, ever go to someone else’s house empty handed.

The golden rule.

To broke college kids it sometimes may be a little tempting to go without contributing. You’re going to go and get a free meal and booze. JACKPOT. However, don’t be that person. For the love of God, bring something.

In honor of the 4th of July, here are a few cheap, quick, and easy items even the poorest of college students can afford to bring to their BBQ this Friday.

1. Solo Cups

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I figured I would start the list off with an extremely classy item that you may already have in your house (an UNOPENED package please. Have some dignity). You may feel cheap bringing a set of plastic cups, but I guarantee you any host would be grateful. If there are 30 people at the BBQ at least 65 cups will be used. No one uses the same cup all day (dropped it, lost it, is this your cup or mine?), and once the supply is gone guests will move to actual cups. The host will thank you for saving them from a sink of dirty dishes.

Bonus: If you’re feeling wild you can purchase a blue pack and a red pack. Hello, patriotism.

2. Fruit

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Fruit trays are expensive, but this idea is NOT. This recipe calls for a knife and a watermelon. I’ve actually taken the liberty to price check the average cost of such a delicious pink and green fruit, and we’re talking less than 10 bucks for a huge one. Plus, you get an automatic bonus for being healthy.

3. Ice


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Before you roll your eyes at this bland suggestion, think back to previous BBQs you have attended. How many times have you heard the host say “So and so just ran out to get more ice”? So many times. It is hot, and people are constantly opening and shutting the coolers. This is an item of pure convenience for the host. If you’re feeling generous you can also include a 6 pack of something fun (could be beer, could be diet coke, could be Kool-Aid jammers).

4. These Cookies

Pillsbury Cookies 4th of July

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Could this be any easier? 1 tube of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough + red sprinkles + blue sprinkles= An adorable American flag that you can eat. I’m going to argue that you do not even have to roll the white ones in sugar, but that is most likely just the health nut inside me demanding to why you would add more sugar to a sugar cookie. Regardless of the sugar coma this may or may not give you it is an excellent, cheap, and yummy dessert to bring to any 4th of July BBQ.

5. Sparklers


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 If there are kids at the BBQ you’re attending these will be a hit. If there will not be any kids still bring them. If there will be alcohol make sure someone sober monitors the use of these. No one likes dealing with a 30 year-old man crying over burnt fingers (though that bag of ice you brought will come in handy, huh?) Remember: Items you bring do not have to be food or drinks. These are cheap and add a bit of fun to the event!

What will you bring to your 4th of July BBQ?

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