Rather than setting up an elaborate food spread, arrange food and decorations in a casual setting. Use DIY flower arrangements, small trays of inexpensive snack food, and bowls of simple snacks to make a backyard space pop—without breaking the bank!
Cost: $20 for flowers and finger foods
Skip the store-made bouquets and pick up fresh blooms from your local farmers market or your own garden—or even ask a neighbor!
Cost: free to $5
Instead of stocking an entire bar, pick out a couple of your favorite recipes for pitcher drinks. Give your guests a few options that you can make ahead and simply pour up at party time. If you aren’t too picky about the drinks you serve, try scoping out your local grocery store. Seasonal fruits are often on sale, and you can create a delicious pitcher drink based on the fruits you find.
Cost: $10 to serve 8
Make a party favor that doubles as a decoration during the gathering. Guests will go home with a thoughtful (and cute!) gift, and you can save the money you would have spent on decor! We're obsessed with the colors of this candied citrus peel; to make the party favor, just add the candy to a jar and top with a pretty ribbon.
Cost: $10 for jar, candy, and ribbon
Set the tone for the party in advance with a bold, summery invitation. Our free pattern is ready for you to type your greeting and event details. Or for a personal touch, fill in all of the info by hand.
Cost: $9 for 10 invitation envelopes plus stamps
Skip the expensive meat-and-cheese trays and go for a local produce tray instead! Fresh veggies from the farmers market (or your own garden!) are a fresh and affordable option.
Cost: $5 to $15
Prep these easy s'mores for your guests by dividing marshmallows, chocolate squares, and graham crackers into small containers. Add a napkin for easy cleanup and let each guest help themselves to everything they need for a quintessential summer dessert.
A few bottles of wine, enhanced with custom labels, make any gathering a celebration. Simply peel off the label of an inexpensive fruity summer wine bottle and replace it with our downloadable cover-up. If you're pressed for time, you can even leave the current label underneath. Type or hand-write the name of your personal wine directly onto the label.
Cost: $5 per bottle of wine
Serving a full sit-down dinner can be daunting for both your culinary skills and your budget. Instead, try serving just a range of hors d’oeuvres and appetizers to your guests. Different homemade dips are an easy—and tasty—way to stretch your budget. Pro tip: Buy store-brand ingredients instead of the big name brands. Your guests will never taste the difference!
Cost: $6 to serve 8
When in doubt, dance it out! Turn your backyard patio into a dance floor. As the sun dips down, turn the jams up. All you need is a speaker and some string lights to get the dance party started. And, if you hang up your lights before the party starts, all you have to do is push the tables out of the way when it's time to boogie.
Cost: $10 for string lights
Turn your wineglasses into part of the party decor! Simply spray-paint the base and stems with a metallic hue and voilá! Classy glasses that look great on any table and in any hand. If your party is going to be outside, consider using plastic wineglasses. They're easy to find, budget-friendly, and won't break as easily if they accidentally get dropped.
Cost: $9 for spray paint
As long as you can maneuver a pair of tweezers, you can DIY personalized fortune cookies. Pull out the generic fortunes and work in something more personal. Type some funny fortunes that your guests will enjoy reading and sharing aloud.
Cost: $5 for a pack of fortune cookies
Timing is everything when it comes to saving big. Try throwing your summer party before or after another activity to save on party-related expenses. Invite friends over for appetizers and drinks before the annual neighborhood block party or for ice cream and a movie—shown on a projector in the backyard—after the big holiday parade. Entertaining is much more budget-friendly when you skip a full meal! Check out your community calendar and start planning.
Wine charms are optional when you have numbered cocktail napkins to help guests keep track of their drinks. For a fun twist, use different designs or colors to distinguish instead of numbers. Stamps and inexpensive white cloth napkins are all you need.
Cost: $10 for stamps and napkins
A bold display is a great way to wow your guests. Pick your color scheme and buy (or make) a tablecloth that fills the bill.
Cost: $15 for tablecloth fabric and fabric paint
Have you made these three mistakes at a summer soiree? Here's how to fix them!
We love a good free printable to save time and money! To create a custom welcome sign, print out an extra invitation. Trim an aspect of the design (in this case, the orange) and attach it to striped paper with text and borders, then write in a welcome message. Frame the piece and tie it to the door with coordinating ribbon for a welcome guests are sure to notice!
Cost: $5 for frame