Cheap Outdoor Party Ideas
To save money on your backyard bash, don’t let anything go to waste. This DIY watermelon centerpiece uses your leftover watermelon rind to make a big statement. To make it, hollow out the fruit and add the juicy watermelon to your food spread—then fill the hollow rind with soaked floral foam and fresh flowers.
Decorate with Flowers
Skip the expensive florist and opt for locally-grown blooms instead. Save time and money by shopping at your local farmers market; flower farms typically have gorgeous, uncommon blooms for a fraction of the cost. Plus, these booths usually have pre-made bouquets for sale, so you can take them straight from the market to your party.
There’s nothing like cold ice cream in the summer, and a DIY sundae bar is one of our favorite seasonal party themes. Give each guest a small jar of ice cream and set out an assortment of tasty (and inexpensive!) toppings like sprinkles, chocolate chips, and candy so everyone can make their own sundae. Pre-scoop the ice cream into jars and leave them in the freezer until party time.
Every party needs a drink station, but fancy cocktails can get expensive fast. Instead, put together a self-serve station of homemade sangria—made with inexpensive wine and in-season fruits. With these fresh and fruity sangria recipes, no one will ever know you used the cheap stuff as the base!
Pick a Color Scheme
By focusing your party on a few snacks and a simple color scheme executed with patterned paper and pretty, inexpensive napkins, you can throw an outdoor fiesta that looks completely coordinated. Dollar stores typically sell party supplies in solid colors, so pick a shade and supplement with black or white accessories.
Build a Watermelon Bar
When watermelon is in season, it’s a relatively inexpensive (and filling!) treat. Build your own summer watermelon bar by serving cut melon with all the toppings you can imagine. Salt is a popular choice, but you can add spices and herbs to the setup for a creative food spread that’s easy and delicious.
DIY Burger Bar
Host a backyard burger bash and put together a spread of hamburgers and toppings that feels elaborate enough for a party, but won’t empty your wallet. Invite friends or neighbors and let them know you’ll supply the burgers and the grill if they’ll bring a side or topping. Plus, this outdoor party is casual enough for paper plates, which is totally a win in our book.
DIY Lawn Games
Make an adorable DIY ring toss game for just a few dollars using plastic tubing, wood, and paint. It’s seriously easy to make, and you can customize it with whatever colors you like.
Paper Pom Decorations
Make an elaborate party decoration for just a couple of dollars. Make your own DIY tissue paper poms and hang them with clear fishing line. Use strands of poms to dress up the buffet area or hang them on a blank wall to create a festive photo backdrop.
Declare a Potluck
One of the easiest ways to save money on entertaining is to declare a summer potluck! When you extend the invitation, ask each person to bring a side, dessert, or drinks; by asking each person to bring something specific, you can be sure you’ll have enough of everything.
Hang these large fold-em-up paper medallions over the featured table to create a more intimate atmosphere. Match them to your color scheme and vary the size—they're sure to be a conversation starter! Our easy instructions and free pattern makes it so easy to put these together.
Serve Snow Cones
Decorate with Garden Flowers
When it comes to party decorations, nothing is better than free! If you grow seasonal summer flowers in your yard, use them to decorate your outdoor gathering. You can even give the freshly-cut blooms as party favors to guests as they leave the party.
Make Nostalgic Treats
Every outdoor summer gathering needs a cold treat! Make DIY nostalgic treats by sandwiching ice cream between a batch of our favorite chocolate chip cookies. Keep the treats in the freezer until you're ready to serve dessert.
Add Wine Labels
Sip on the cheap! Disguise an inexpensive bottle of wine with our personalized wine wrap.
DIY Paper Fans
Accordion-folded fans keep you cool and make cool decorations. Stick them in a box filled with sand for a DIY party centerpiece.
Give jars a bright makeover with a quick coat of transparent paint. Mix and match shades for easy (and inexpensive!) mood lighting.
Decorate with Bandannas
Basic bandannas make a beautiful table runner when layered with grocery-store flowers. We love a combo of crisp white and blue.
Watermelon is in season and on sale. Blend with white grape juice, lime, and mint for a refreshingly sweet summer drink.
DIY Party Favors
Send guests home with a jar of homemade maple mustard and they'll be thanking you all grilling-season long.
Cheesy Snack Mix
Budget-friendly bites like cheese crackers, rice cereal, and shoestring potatoes are perfect for this quick snack mix.
Frozen Cocktail Treats
Put the "aah" in August (or any other warm-weather month!) with these cool-off cocktails. These adult-only sippers are served frozen and in glasses so you don't miss a drop.
Your guests will gobble up this salty-sweet blend. This big-batch recipe can be customized with any nut you like!
BBQ Potato Chip Crunch Dog
Homemade sauce makes hot dogs totally party-worthy. Top with crushed chips just before serving for extra crunch.
Deviled Egg Macaroni Pasta Salad
Pantry staples like pasta, eggs, and mayo make for one amazing pasta salad.
Peanut Butter Brownies
Who says brownies have to be basic? Beat the box with our incredible peanut butter bars.
Watch: Our Dip-Dye Tutorial!
See our dip-dye technique in action, then use it to turn dollar-store napkins and table runners into showstopping party decor.
Use our easy-peasy dip-dye technique to jazz up basic cloth napkins. The same $10 technique works to create a cotton table runner or place mats.
To make the napkins:
1. Follow the package directions for fabric dye. Add 2 cups warm water to each of 3 deep bowls (stainless steel or glass). Add 1 cup dye solution to the first bowl; 1/2 cup solution to the second; 1/4 cup solution to the third.
2. Dip a folded white cotton napkin into the weakest dye solution, leaving the top section undyed. Leave in solution about 15-30 seconds. Squeeze to drain excess dye. Continue by dipping napkin at a lesser depth in each of the heavier solutions to achieve an ombre effect.