The heat is finally here, and nothing says summer like a great 4th of July celebration. There’s really no better time than our nation’s Independence Day to throw a great summer party (or to join someone else’s!).
Add together some icy cold beverages, fresh watermelon, and fireworks, and I’m all in. Here are my best ideas for a frugal 4th of July party that’s both kid-friendly and easy on the wallet.
Organize a Potluck
My favorite way to throw a frugal party is to host a potluck so everyone can bring a favorite dish to share. It helps feed everyone, it’s easy preparation and cleanup for the host, and I don’t think anyone minds bringing a single dish.
The whole idea is really too easy and frugal to boot, and it allows the host to actually enjoy the party rather than worry about feeding and cleaning up after a crowd.
Celebrate the Red, White, and Blue With Your Food
There’s an abundance of choices to celebrate the colors of the American flag with the food served at your party. Consider these red, white, and blue options as desserts and instant decorations all in one.
Since fruit is in season, an easy (and deceptively healthy) way to display a festive spread is to serve a color-appropriate fruit tray with red, white, and blue fruits.
You can search Pinterest for different display options, but once you buy some strawberries, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, and whipped cream or fruit dip, all you have to do is arrange it well on a tray or string them on skewers. There’s nothing to it, really.
My old standby for red, white, and blue dessert is to make a white sheet cake in a 9″ x 13″ pan frosted with whipped cream, with strawberries and blueberries arranged in the shape of the American flag. You could also serve the same ingredients in a glass trifle bowl for a different look.
Another option is to freeze strawberries and blueberries into ice cubes (just add them into the trays) to add to water glasses or lemonade pitchers. Or you can go even more kid friendly (and old school) and make jello jigglers for the kids, color coordinated in red, white, and blue, of course.
For a fancy dessert that’s actually quite simple to make, buy a boxed cake mix, separate the batter between two bowls, and mix in enough food coloring to make a red and blue layer cake. Frost with white icing. It’s easy, and it’s fun to cut into when you’re ready to eat! Everyone will think you made a great fuss with it, but it’s just as easy as making a regular cake from a box.
If color coordination isn’t your thing, lay out s’mores ingredients on a table around your fire pit, carve into a gigantic watermelon (it feeds a lot of people), or have a simple ice cream party with all the fixings. (Just make sure to store the ingredients inside.)
Family Fun Activities
If you have a pool, make it a pool party. No pool? If there will be a lot of kids, have a water balloon or water gun party. The thing about water guns is that when it’s hot outside (and you know it will be on the 4th of July), adults like to join in as well. It’s a great way for everyone to beat the heat.
If playing with water doesn’t sound like fun, set up a volleyball or badminton net outside to encourage some friendly competition. We did this last year with our neighbors and had a ball organizing a mini tournament. Everyone had fun (and we got to burn off those extra calories without even realizing it).
Don’t Forget the Fireworks
At the end of the day, you can’t finish Independence Day without some fireworks. The most frugal way to do this is to find out what time your town’s fireworks show starts (just about every town has one by now), and get there early enough to get a good seat (or room for your blanket).
However, if you have small kids like I do, a professional fireworks show may not work. Small kids are either terrified of the loud noises, or ready for bed by the time it’s dark enough for fireworks.
When you have kids, sometimes you “do what you gotta do,” so here’s what we did last year. After a block party with our neighbors during the day, we each chipped in on a few fireworks, and one neighbor at a time would shoot off a firework from their own yard. This allowed a continuous show because as one neighbor was firing one off, another was getting ready, and so on.
It may not be quite as good as a professional show, but the 11 kids in our cul-de-sac of 5 houses were quite impressed by the end of it, and since we were all on blankets in our yards, there were no fussy or stressed out kids to drag home at the end of it. It was the perfect way to end our fun-filled day.
Throwing a fun, frugal bash doesn’t have to be exhausting or wallet-busting. Every summer party should be energizing and fun — after all, that’s what summer is for! Here’s to hoping you have a blast at your next summer party.
How do you have fun for the 4th of July? What family friendly and cheap activities do you take part in? Are you a fan of fireworks?