Summer Party Ideas on a Budget

garden party women outside
Photo: Victoria Pearson

Summer entertaining can be easy, breezy, and budget-friendly. Printable invitations, easy-to-make wine wraps, and outside-the-box thinking make hosting a summer party less expensive than you might think.

01 of 15

Party Table Spread

aerial view poolside white snack table
Adam Albright

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

02 of 15

Use Local Decorations

rose centerpiece with pink bloom greenery
Jason Donnelly

Skip the store-made bouquets and pick up fresh blooms from your local farmers market or your own garden—or even ask a neighbor! Arrange them in a simple glass Mason jar or use a recycled pasta sauce jar.

Cost: free to $5

03 of 15

Serve Pitcher Cocktails

Basil Lemon Drop
Andy Lyons

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

04 of 15

DIY Party Favors

Fresh Party Favors
Ray Kachatorian

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'd 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 the jar, candy, and ribbon

05 of 15

Free Printable Party Invitation

Orange Invitation envelope
James Carriere

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

06 of 15

Use Local Produce

Rose party place settings
Jason Donnelly

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

07 of 15

Serve a Sweet Snack

smores treat boxes chocolate marshmallows
David Tsay

Prep these easy s'mores for your guests by dividing marshmallows, chocolate squares, and graham crackers into small berry baskets. Add a napkin for easy cleanup and let each guest help themselves to everything they need for a quintessential summer dessert.

Cost: $10

08 of 15

Party Wine Labels

Orange Wine Label
James Carriere

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

09 of 15

Serve Appetizers

Hot Greens Dip
Blaine Moats

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

10 of 15

Backyard Dance Floor

patio string lights furnished
Adam Albright

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

11 of 15

Make Copper-Dipped Wineglasses

Copper base wine glass white wine
Kritsada Panichgul

Turn your wine glasses 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 wine glasses. They're easy to find, budget-friendly, and won't break as easily if they accidentally get dropped.

Cost: $9 for spray paint

12 of 15

Custom Fortune Cookies

Custom Fortune Cookies
james Carriere

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 or make your own homemade cookies from scratch. Type some funny fortunes that your guests will enjoy reading and sharing aloud.

Cost: $5 for a pack of fortune cookies

13 of 15

Share the Occassion

outdoor movie party projector
Rebekah Molloy

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.

Cost: $0

14 of 15

Numbered Party Napkins

Numbered napkins chevron
James Carriere

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

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Summer Party Display

Summer party table display
James Carriere

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 the tablecloth

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