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Tips for a Fun and Frugal Fourth of July Party

The following is a post from staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting in the fun stuff along the way.

If you are anything like me, you like to hang out with friends or family without spending a ton of money. With July 4th around the corner, I was thinking of some ideas for frugal fun. Believe it or not, you can have a great 4th of July party without hurting the family’s finances if you use these simple tips.

Fourth of July – Potluck

You can save yourself and your friends a ton if you all contribute to a potluck. Each party attendee simply brings a dish to the gathering. My friends and I send out a group and email and respond to the whole group with what we are planning to contribute. That helps to avoid having too many duplicate dishes. It also leads to having a bunch of yummy options without people spending more than $5-$20 per party.

Fourth of July – Skip the Grocery Store

Many people, including me, have resorted to going to their local grocery store at the last minute to buy food and party items. With an hour of advanced preparation, you can hit a discount warehouse for supplies and whip up a quick dish at home. My husband and I buy our supplies in bulk from Sam’s Club. I also have several quick recipes that work for any potluck – cookies, brownies, bbq chicken, fruit salad, or even fresh-from-a-tube French bread all take less than 30 minutes of work and are appreciated by everyone.

Fourth of July – Host your Own Fireworks Display

Instead of wasting gas to travel downtown or to a remote location, you can have a fireworks celebration in your own backyard. If you live in a no-fireworks zone, you can pick up a few packs of sparklers and have your own little tribute at home. If you live in an open fireworks zone like us, you can mooch off your neighbors by watching all of their fireworks popping off over your house.

In our case, we just sit in our front yard and watch the neighbors’ displays since there are several families with children who seem to spend a ton every year to impress them. I think they appreciate my clapping too!

Fourth of July – Keep the Action Outside

Create a bunch of fun activities, events, and games that everyone can play outdoors. A lot of energy is wasted during holiday weekend with people constantly coming in and out of the house. Keeping the action outdoors will allow you to keep the use of televisions, air conditioning, and electronic games to a minimum.

My friends and I hang outdoors with a kiddie pool, a Frisbee, a Bocci ball set, a barbecue grill, or Cowboy Golf. Our family has been known to play volleyball in their pool or drink around the outdoor tables while snacking away on potluck foods.

What other tips can you think of for a frugal and fun Fourth of July?



  1. If you do end up buying your own fireworks, stock up on July 5th for next year. Around where I live everything is usually 50% off or so. The only problem is that a lot of the time the good stuff is gone, but you can always buy a few the next time around and still come out ahead.

    • @Ross @ Go Be Rich, great advice! This also works well on the evening of July 4th – here in Houston, they start offering 4 for 1 specials and stuff!

  2. It may not be exactly a potluck, but everyone brings something! We used to be the designated location because we lived on top of a hill with a view of the fireworks. It helped that we had a pool too. So friends brought drinks, desserts, salads, etc. Fun time!

  3. These are great ideas! I’d love to have a 4th of July party, especially at our new home.

    • @20 and Engaged, the new house parties are a lot of fun – beware though, I was so proud we even owned a house, lol, that I showed off every little nook and cranny like a proud peacock. I am lucky my friends like me and have some patience with me in general. :-)

  4. Crystal – I am doing that for a bbq I’m hosting next week, and ive found a website that will manage all the logistics for you. It’s called punchbowl, and you simply fill in how many apps, desserts, salads, etc you need, and guests can sign up for a slot.

  5. Skip the grocery store for sure. Those deep-cooled mass produced trays are never as good as a homemade dish. Even the simple watermelon beats a grocery store last minute run.

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