Prices are at an all-time high this summer, but don’t let that spoil your Independence Day weekend. Instead of having a bare bones celebration or only inviting a few people, here are the tips you need to pull a fabulous Fourth of July bash on a budget.
From timing your shopping trip just right to opting out of traditional activities, here are seven ways to host a July 4 party without breaking the bank.
Shop for Food at the Last Minute
“Grocery stores will have things like barbecue staples on sale the closer it gets to the holiday, so if you’re looking to host a party on a budget, your best bet is to shop these sales to save on the most popular ingredients,” advised consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.
“Whether you’re looking for steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, or something else entirely, these kinds of items are more likely to be on sale by the holiday weekend, so if you can afford to wait, you may have better luck saving by shopping at the last minute. However, don’t wait too long, as these items will be in high demand so you’ll want to shop early enough that you don’t have to worry about them being sold out. Check your favorite grocery stores now to see if the sales are already on and take advantage!”
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Buy in Bulk (if It Makes Sense)
“If you’re planning a party for a good-sized crowd then you may want to consider shopping at warehouse clubs,” said Ramhold. “If you need vegetables for sides, or enough buns to feed an army, a delicious dessert, and even the main focus of hot dogs and hamburgers, you can find really excellent deals at stores like Costco. You can also usually find condiments in bulk at stores like this, and depending on how many barbecues you’re planning to throw, they may get you through the rest of summer.”
Create Your Own Themed Items
“Right now, plenty of stores have July 4th themed items, whether it’s patriotic paper plates or red, white, and blue cupcakes,” Ramhold said. “But those things tend to be priced at a premium, because they’re hyper-specific.”
She continued, “Rather than buy those and pay more, consider making your own themes. Purchase things like standard confetti cake mixes, ordinary vanilla frosting, and food coloring to make them festive. Rather than paper plates printed with American flags, buy solid color blue plates, white napkins, and standard red Solo cups to set your tables with.”
Make It a Potluck
According to Ramhold, this is a simple way to reduce the physical and financial stress of planning a party, and you can organize it however you want.
“Have a formal signup sheet for guests to note if they’re bringing appetizers, sides, mains or desserts, or even just do an informal poll in a group chat,” she said. “Depending on the size of the group, request that everyone bring a dish and ice or a drink to ensure you have enough for everyone. That way the only thing you have to worry about is making your own contribution and setting up for the party — the rest of the spread is up to your guests.”
If you’re planning on providing the meat, consider this suggestion from Paul Moyer of SavingFreak. “Pork has not gone up in price as much as chicken and beef, so focus your meat planning around pork recipes,” he said. “Barbecue pork is a crowd pleaser and you can use cheaper cuts because the cooking process makes the meat tender.”
Make It BYOB
“There are numerous advantages to allowing guests to bring their own alcohol to a party,” said James Crawford, co-founder of DealDrop. “First and foremost, everyone will have a drink they enjoy when they bring their own. Second, adult beverages can be more expensive than kid-friendly alternatives like soda and juice boxes. Providing beer and wine for all of your cookout guests can put a serious dent in your budget, just like buying a round of drinks at the local bar.”
Plan Cheap Entertainment
“A Fourth of July scavenger hunt is always great fun and popular with kids and adults,” said Sally Gibson, the founder of Someone Sent You a Greeting. “Just hide some appropriate items around the house or backyard and let everyone get searching.”
Gibson also suggested playing July 4 Twister. “Just paint red, white and blue circles on an old sheet or in the yard and you can play a patriotic version of a classic game,” she said.
“Trivia games about the United States are fun and engaging and don’t break the bank,” added Gibson. “Just do some research on the internet beforehand and have lots of questions ready.”
You can also ask guests to dress in red, white and blue, which would pair nicely with her next idea. “Everyone loves taking selfies so create a 4th of July inspired backdrop with cheap flags or homemade garlands for guests to enjoy a selfie station,” she said.
Skip the Fireworks
“Not only are they pricey, but also rules on whether or not you can set them off in your area will vary widely,” said Ramhold.
“Plus, the noise usually disturbs both people and pets, and you don’t want to be ‘that’ person. If you must have something to celebrate with, consider picking up a pack of sparklers — just be sure to put them out with water when they’re done. Even better is if you can take in a free show nearby when your party is winding down. Be sure to check local parks and stadiums to see if they’ll be doing fireworks shows and find out how you can attend.”
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