Having a fun, lively Fourth of July party doesn't have to break your budget. You can have a small family barbecue for friends, family and neighbors and still have some green left in your pocket after the weekend.

It's the Fourth of July and people want a little splash of red, white and blue at their parties. For the least expensive decor and most mileage for your dollar, opt for plain white plastic plates. They are much less expensive than the holiday dinnerware, and you can use any leftovers for other occasions. Use plain white tablecloths as well. Many party stores sell rolls of white plastic table covers at much lower prices than the colored ones. A great advantage is that if you are using a roll, you can cut it to fit any table instead of having to purchase multiple sizes. To add touches of color, string red and blue streamers or confetti on the tables. You can toss in some red and blue napkins, and you instantly have festive Fourth of July decorations.

If you want a less "plastic" look, opt for butcher paper. This heavy duty paper can be cut to size, holds up to spills and the kids can draw on it. It averages about US$30 per roll at school supply outlets. Do you want an inexpensive centerpiece? If so, you can use your party dessert. Fill clear glass containers with blueberries, strawberries and red raspberries. After guests fill their plates with the fruit, add some cream topping for red, white and blue desserts. Another simple idea is to hang red, white and blue balloons around the deck or other party area. They are inexpensive and come in a variety sizes.

July is a month where most food is best served cold. Hot dogs are the exception. This holiday is made to be fun. Skip the chicken, steaks and shrimp and go for hot dogs and burgers. They seem simple, yet they can be dressed up to accommodate many tastes. Warehouse stores such as GFS or Sam's Club sell them in bulk packages which can offer some savings. With only a few exceptions, everyone at your party will enjoy them. If you have vegetarian friends, throw a couple of black bean burgers or portobello mushrooms on the grill and they'll be happy. If you don't have a grill, you can purchase a disposable charcoal grill at EZ Grill for $15. Toppings for your hot dogs and burgers can vary as much as your family and guests. Relish, sauerkraut, salsa, chili, barbecue sauce or cheese can make your hot dogs and burgers unique. Sides of picnic favorites like potato salad, baked beans or chips and pretzels can be easily added.

Guests usually offer to bring something, so assign them a dish or ask if they have a specialty they'd like to bring. A Fourth of July party is an easy event to turn into a "potluck" with guests bringing a variety of foods for everyone to savor. If you want a little something different, but still want stay within your budget, try making tacos. You can use ground beef, chicken or ground turkey with seasoning for an easy meal. All the toppings can be served in separate bowls so guests can build a taco to suit their tastes. Traditional side dishes work very well with tacos.

For drinks, consider shopping at a warehouse club. Most offer beverages in larger quantities and at an average 10% drop in the price from most grocery chains. You can easily make punch for your guests in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.

Party Favors, Games and Seating
Most of us don't have dozens of chairs stacked in the garage or closet, so when you invite guests ask them to bring their own chairs. This eliminates the need to rent chairs or tables. Remember to borrow when you can. Neighbors oftentimes are willing to lend you picnic tables or plastic outdoor tables in exchange for an invite or a "care package" of food.

The games people play are as varied as the region they live in. If you want to play volleyball, all you need is a net and a ball. Adding a few soccer balls, footballs or even kites to the backyard can result in fun and inexpensive party games. If your party is scheduled during the evening hours, you can add simple votive candles to glass jars. Pull your Christmas lights out of their boxes, particularly white lights or red lights, and string them around your porch, patio or deck.

Hand each guest a package of sparklers to light up the evening. Skip the fireworks because they are expensive, dangerous and against the law in many states. If fireworks are in your plans, meet your guests at a pre-determined viewing spot after your party. Have everyone grab their lawn chairs and throw some snacks in your car. This will be a perfect "ooh and ahh" finish to your Fourth of July party.

The Bottom Line
Fourth of July parties can be fun and inexpensive. Remember the age groups that you are inviting and gear your activities and foods toward them. You don't have to create a meal like a television chef to have great tasting fare that your guests will enjoy. While everyone is enjoying the meal, remember the reason for the holiday and display your flag and your patriotism proudly.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  2. Budgeting

    The Hard Way We Pay For Convenience

    Convenience is a luxury. However, any cost-conscious individual should be aware of these ridiculous ways we pay for convenience and how to avoid them.
  3. Home & Auto

    5 Luxurious Ways to Boost Your Home's Resale Value

    Not all renovations are created equal. Here are five that are most likely to make a property appreciate (and be appreciated by househunters).
  4. Personal Finance

    Choosing An In-Home Safe: Features To Look For

    What to look for in a box to protect your irreplaceable belongings.
  5. Budgeting

    How to Cost Effectively Spend on Baby Clothes

    Don't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
  6. Personal Finance

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  7. Budgeting

    6 Cost-Effective Tips for Raising Your First Child

    The excitement of welcoming your first child to your family shouldn't prevent you from making good cost-effective decisions.
  8. Budgeting

    5 Ways to Date on a Budget

    Dating on a budget doesn't have to be boring. Try these 5 tips to find the best dates on a budget.
  9. Budgeting

    7 Kids Items You Should Never Buy Used

    Buying secondhand items is a great way to save money, but these seven kids items should not be bought used.
  10. Investing

    10 New Apps That Help Budget For Expensive Cities

    From platforms for saving money to those that account for side jobs, mobile apps are changing spending habits and income generation in urban areas.
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How much risk is associated with subprime mortgages?

    A large amount of risk is associated with subprime mortgages. Since the mortgages are specifically for people who do not ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!