Money Smarts Blog
Last minute tips for a frugal Fourth
Jul 2, 2015 || Amanda Spurgeon
Throwing a party for the Fourth is a great way to get friends and family together, but if you’re not careful those party costs can stack up quickly. If you’re looking to have a festive bash without bashing your budget, we’re here to help. Check out our suggestions for frugal festivities, and share yours in the comments!
Skip expensive decorations
Fourth of July is all about outdoor fun, and usually the great outdoors is decoration enough. Instead of splurging on expensive décor that you’ll just throw away or forget about next year, get creative. Try hollowing out bell peppers as a colorful way to serve condiments, or arrange a tray of pineapple, watermelon cubes and blueberries in the shape of a flag. Edible décor is far more popular with hungry guests than fancy flag bunting.
If you absolutely must decorate, grab some miniature flags from the dollar store. You can get a flag for every guest and pay less than $20. If you’ve got some extra cardboard lying around, cut it into stars and cover it with aluminum foil. You can hang them around the yard or use them underneath bowls of fresh fruit for centerpieces.
Stick with solid-colors
It can be tempting to go crazy at the party store and buy all the star-spangled cups, plates and napkins. It’s also crazy expensive. Save some green and stick with solid red plastic plates and white napkins. It’s still patriotic, and any leftover plates can be used for Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
Make it a potluck
Having everybody bring a little something is the best way to cut costs. As the host, you should provide the bulk of the meal—like hotdogs and hamburgers to throw on the grill. Ask guests to bring buns, side dishes and desserts to round it out. It might feel like cheating, but chances are your guests will enjoy the opportunity to share their family’s top secret potato salad recipe.
Provide a cooler of waters or sodas, but ask guests to bring their own alcohol.
Do something different
If your friends and family usually get together for the local parade, mix it up and have everyone over for brunch afterwards. Eggs and bacon are an inexpensive way to feed a crowd. Plus, you’re free for the rest of the day.
If you usually go to a local park to watch the fireworks display, why not host a picnic? Meet there early enough to get a good spot and enjoy some snacks in the grass. Bring sandwiches or other finger foods and ask guests to bring a dish to share.
. . . but don’t make your own fireworks display
Seriously. This can’t be stressed enough. Fireworks are expensive and more importantly, dangerous. Host your bash before or after your community’s annual extravaganza, or provide sparklers and check out your crazy neighbor’s display instead. When the day is done, your wallet will thank you and you’ll still have all the limbs you started with.