Summer is here, the sun is shining, and you're ready to have some friends and family over for a party. That sounds like a great idea! But what if your bank account isn't quite as excited about it as you are? Fortunately for you and your guests, you can still throw a memorable summer party and save money at the same time.

A get-together doesn't have to mean blowing your monthly budget on a single day. Just follow these tips to host a gorgeous summer bash packed with fun, sun, and food.

Limit the Guest List

The first tip to having a budget-friendly party is to avoid inviting the entire neighborhood or everyone you've ever known. Instead, start saving money right away by keeping things small. Large groups cost more to feed and entertain, but by maintaining a more intimate guest list, you'll have more to spend on the people who matter most.

If you're hosting family, try to limit it to those closest to you. That looks different for everyone, of course, and you might have a real bond with most of your extended family. For some people, though, it'll significantly cut back on the outgoing invitations. Similarly, take a closer look at your list of friends before sending everyone the time and place.

For some people, a "small" party may mean having five people over. For others, it could mean twenty. Decide what it means for you and stick with it.

Don't Skip the Dollar Store

Dollar stores and discount stores (like Dollar Tree or Dollar General) offer many things at a discounted price. Luckily for you, they offer particularly deep discounts on party supplies. Make a run to the dollar store of your choice for all the party basics, from paper plates to basic party decorations.

If this summer party happens to also be a birthday party or celebrating something like Mother's Day, dollar stores also carry holiday and special occasion supplies. You can grab gift bags and balloons alongside your streamers, cups, silverware, and other supplies!

These stores are also excellent places to find items for gift bags and party favors. There's typically a selection of different candies and small items, including plenty that fit your summer theme. If you shop at the right time, you'll even find fun items like paper umbrellas for drinks or BBQ and grilling supplies.

Make it a Pool Party

This suggestion works best if you have access to a private pool, of course, but pool parties are one of the best ways to throw a low-cost bash. The main entertainment is built right in! If you want to make the occasion particularly memorable, combine your dollar store visit with the theme and pick up some fun floats, pool toys, and poolside items for your guests. Who doesn't want to float around on a big pink flamingo?

Putting together pool-themed treat bags can be a cost-effective option, too. Include travel-sized sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, and even a summery cup. You'll find all of those options at low prices and guests can use them again and again.

Throw a Potluck

If you're throwing a potluck party, consider providing the main course yourself. This may mean that you grill burgers and hotdogs while asking your guests to bring in summery sides like potato salad or fruit trays. It's an easy way to save a bit of money while still providing everyone with plenty to eat.

If you're not a fan of traditional potlucks and want to prepare everything yourself, ask everyone to bring an ingredient instead. This way, everyone contributes and you keep costs low, but all the food preparation and cooking is still in your control. For instance, ask one guest to provide the cheese for burgers, another to bring along buns, someone else to bring condiments, and so on.

DIY Your Decorations

As helpful as the dollar stores are for finding decorations, they might not give you everything you're looking for. Instead of heading out to spend a ton of money on premade decorations, consider making some yourself! Even if you're not crafty or creative, there are a lot of easy ideas out there that suit a summer party.

Here are a few simple, inexpensive ideas that only require a few minutes.

  • Grab a few strings of battery-powered holiday lights and a six-pack of canning jars. Turn on the lights, tuck them into the jars or coil them inside in a circle, and put the lid back on. Use them as table centerpieces, situate them in windows, or even use them to light a path.
  • Pick up some terracotta planters (which typically cost around a dollar at most gardening centers), some acrylic paint, and brushes. Paint the planters in summer colors like yellow and bright blue or get creative and use a stencil or stickers to add fun designs. Tuck in some soil and small succulents. Now you have decorations and party favors to send home with your guests! You can also opt for artificial plants or flowers tucked into foam, too.

Have an Ice-Cream Bar

Does anything pair with summer more than cold, sweet ice cream? Ice cream parties are fun for adults and younger guests alike. To ensure you have enough for everyone, pick up your ice cream (and other bulk items like toppings, soft drinks for ice-cream floats, cones, and so on) at a warehouse store like Sam's Club or Costco.

Lay out all of your toppings and containers on a decorated table and take out your ice cream just before your guests make the rounds. Everyone can customize their sweet treat exactly as they like it! It's an easy, affordable, low-effort dessert for you and fun to make and eat for party-goers.

Organize Games

Party games are a must, even if you're not on a tight budget. It can be anything from trivia to cornhole or horseshoes, as long as there's a chance for everyone to easily participate when and if they want to. You can take things a step further and include prizes, too!

Games give your guests a chance to mingle and have fun with each other. Those with a bit of a competitive spirit can stretch their wings, too.

Serve Fun Drinks

Summer parties often mean you're outside, so staying hydrated is a must. Offer your guests something more than just water! One of the simplest ways to do this is to step up your ice game.

If you're serving adult beverages, consider freezing wine or mixers into ice cubes. As they melt, drinks won't be watered down and will still taste great. For more kid-friendly parties, you can pick up ice-cube trays in exciting, summer-themed shapes and use them to freeze juice or something that pairs well with whatever drink options you plan to offer!

Final Thoughts

By following the tips above, you're certain to throw a summer party to leave your guests talking. It hits all the highlights - food, drink, entertainment, take-home goodies, and on-theme decor - without overspending.

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