By Maile Timon
Summer is known for warm weather, long daylight hours, cookouts on the patio and drinks by the pool. In other words, it’s the season to celebrate! If you’re planning a summer bash with friends or family and want to maximize the fun while keeping your budget intact, there are tons of crowd-pleasing strategies to curb the expense and still have a blast. With some creativity, resourcefulness and help from your guests, you can pull off a frugal shindig your friends will talk about for months to come. These five ideas will help you make that happen!
Make it a Potluck
According to a recent survey, about 60 percent of Americans spend most of their party budget on food and another 22 percent spend it on alcohol, which doesn’t leave much for other party essentials. Instead of an expensive smorgasbord of food and drinks, ask your guests to bring a dish so you won’t have to juggle the entire cost alone.
Assign appetizers to a few guests and entrees and desserts to others. When you delegate the courses, you’ll have a variety of items to choose from. You could even pre-determine a theme like “Mexican Night” to create a more festive mood and give your guests some direction as they prepare the dishes. For additional savings, you encourage people to BYOB.
Keep the Entertainment Simple
Instead of racking your brain—and busting your wallet—to make sure all the guests enjoy themselves, take out the guesswork and host an outdoor movie night that will fit your budget and appeal to everyone on the invite list.
Create the ambiance with lawn chairs or blankets, popcorn or finger-food snacks and a DIY home theatre in the backyard. The materials you’ll need are clothespins, string lights, a secure rope, a white linen sheet, a laptop and a projector. If you don’t own a projector, you can find affordable options on Amazon and similar websites. All that remains is asking guests to bring their favorite DVDs, and you’ve got no-fail entertainment.
If you don’t want to spring for a projector, consider other thrifty entertainment options. Use a Bluetooth speaker and play some crowd-pleasing music, or borrow a friend’s karaoke machine for a backyard summer jam.
Buy Items in Bulk When Possible
Before shopping at your local grocery store, head to Costco or other warehouse store and load up on food, beverages, paper dinnerware and other supplies in bulk. These warehouse-type stores can help you score major bargains if you’re planning to host a large crowd, but there are some guidelines to follow to maximize your savings. First, make sure to compare the costs between multiple stores and know the price-per-unit of each item on your shopping list. Then, avoid the urge to overstock, so you won’t spend even more and have to deal with leftover food going to waste. When done frugally, buying in bulk can save around $650 in the long term.
Go the DIY Route for Decorations
The DIY trend isn’t just for Pinterest anymore—with a little effort and imagination, you can transform the patio into a whimsical summer oasis. From welcome signs to cocktail glasses to drink coolers to hanging lanterns to centerpieces and table runners, these DIY decor ideas will add a unique, personal touch to any get-together.
Crafting your own decorations is a more economical approach since you can repurpose objects from around the house like cardboard, popsicle sticks, tin cans, planters, wooden planks, tablecloths, mason jars or candles, to name a few. These handmade accents are sure to delight your guests without derailing the budget.
Take Advantage of the Dollar Store
For napkins, plastic utensils, Styrofoam plates and other disposable products, raid the nearest dollar store. These items don’t need to be elaborate—they just need to be functional, so there’s no reason to blow a large portion of your budget on something that will end up in the trash. You can expect to spend a median cost of $3.90 on seasonally-themed plates, for instance, at retail chains like Target versus the more reasonable dollar store price tag. In addition, you can even order these supplies online through websites such as Hollar, which offer tons of party basics for discount prices that often can’t be found in a brick-and-mortar equivalent.
People attend summer shindigs to create memories with their friends, not to be dazzled by the amount of cash you forked over to make it an elegant affair. So don’t spend top-dollar to impress the guests when you can go cheaper and keep them entertained all night long.
Allocate most of the budget toward the essentials, improvise the smaller details and have your guests participate when it comes to the menu. These stress-free, affordable hacks are guaranteed to relieve financial pressure, so you can focus on letting the good times roll—which is what summertime is all about!
Maile Timon is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, business, education, how to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, CA. To see more of her articles, follow Maile on Twitter