Ask the Readers: How Do You Save on Summer Parties?

By Ashley Jacobs on 18 June 2013 (Updated 25 June 2013) 45 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Mary, C.j., and Kelli for winning this week's contest!

Spring and summer are, arguably, the best seasons for outdoor parties! With so many occasions for summer parties — graduations, holidays, the usual birthdays, and just-because pool parties — it's not hard to find a reason to celebrate. Then again, so many occasions for summer parties makes for a very good reason to find ways to save on the festivities.

How do you save on summer parties? What preparations do you usually do if you're hosting a party? Do you have parties at home, at a park or beach, or another venue? As a guest, do you bring anything with you to combat the heat, like sunscreen, umbrellas, water guns/balloons, or extra bottles of water?

Tell us about how you save on summer parties and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

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  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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    • Contest ends Monday, June 24th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after June 24th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture

To me the ideal summer party involves good company, cold beer, and a grill. I've noticed that some form of meat is always on sale at my local grocery store, so I typically go with that. It gives my grilling some nice variety.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

We save on summer parties by keeping things simple: hot dogs, chips & soda.

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Tyler

We have parties at a park and everyone brings some food or drink. We try to also find a park area with a grill for cooking food.

Guest's picture

We meet our friends at a local state park and have a pot luck picnic. It's inexpensive, we can swim in the lake, and I don't even have to clean the house.

Guest's picture
Joseph

If I'm a hosting a party, it's usually a movie night outing with some friends at my apartment. Although the films we watch aren't the latest blockbusters, we still save money by watching movies on NetFlix, Amazon Prime Instant Play, or plain ol' DVDs. With movie prices rising (about $12 per person), we save almost $72 in ticket fees alone. As for food, we tend to shop at wholesale stores (Sam's Club, anyone?) to get discount on bulk food items. We often pitch in about $10 and feast it out.

Now that it's summer, however, my friends and I try to go to the beach as often as possible. We tend to go for the beach picnics as opposed to a beach party per se, but it's more or less the same -- food, music, drinks, fun. Preparation for that is extremely simple. Grab blankets, radio, a cooler, and huge bags. Fill the bags with food and snacks and head out to the beach! :D

Personally, I'm in charge of bringing the chairs and the umbrella, while the other responsibilities are split amongst the others who go. Though, I guess we all bring our own sunscreen, seeing how we all use different types, but it works out.

Guest's picture
C.j.

I"m with everyone else. When it comes to summer entertaining that's usally picnic/bqq potluck season for us. I have a 9qt cooler I keep in the car to pack drinks and a 2 gallon cooler that I fill with warm water to use as a handwashing station I just bring a hand towel and some antibacterial soap We usually have picnics at the park to save on cleaning and food since we usually just grill hotdogs and hamburgers

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Elena

I save on summer parties by buying party supplies and food at discount stores

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lostannfound

Have people bring a dish. On Father's Day we had a cookout here and my sister brought tossed salad, mom brought potato salad, brother brought wine, and so on.

If it's a friends get-together, bring your favorite munchie to share, BYOB, and we sit by the firepit and have a great time!

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Amanda Sakovitz

I have summer parties at home in the backyard. We always have great comfort food and everyone usually has a great time

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jeannine s

I buy in bulk and cook the food myself. For drink i shop at a kind of beer warehouse we have that is way cheaper then the grocery store. We also use plastic picnic plates that can be washed and fabric napkins so not buying those every time

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Jay

Keep it traditional and simple - bbq at the beach - hot dogs & burgers with chips & drinks - sun & surf

Guest's picture
Mylene

We normally don't throw summer parties in the dry Vegas heat but when we do (Usually someone visiting out of state, or Bdays) we keep it simple but with a little more pizazz. Finger foods(hot dogs) and vanilla ice cream come with a topping bars. Drinks are just bottled water and or sodas we stockpile through coupons for the past few months.

Kids enjoy the toppings for hotdogs. We put out different types of salad dressings & sauces. Shredded vegetables are kept on ice in a nice plastic bowl in a shaded area. We sometimes add sides of potato salad or pasta salad and we see people use them as toppings. Same goes for the ice cream. We just round up anything sweet we find in the house and present it nicely. We done crumbled graham crackers,cookies, leftover candy, and bacon.

My family enjoys this so much they do it at their own home too. It's like a hot dog party but it's cheaper than spending money on meat ribs or pulled pork. People really enjoy it because its beyond mustard and ketchup.

Guest's picture

We are saving on our summer party by using DIY projects. DYI appetizers, decor, etc... Plus we're getting some of the food and drinks at Sam's Club - buying in bulk always helps.

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Tiffany Sparks

I save on summer parties by asking each guest to bring something whether it be napkins, drinks, chips, etc.

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Bethany

We have others bring their favorite side-dishes. Not only does it save time and money, but if everybody brings their favorite, than there is extremely delectible food!

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Thomas Murphy

I keep things simple so it does not cost much

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OFG

Ask everyone to pitch in. Someone brings dessert, beer, disposables like cups and napkins. Then you just serve up the burgers and veggies. Sometimes you can get friends and family to chip in on those too.

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Catherine

Re-usable plates and silverware instead of disposable - I already have it and won't have to buy it again.

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Heather

My 2 sons' birthdays are 10 days from each other in August so we combine them (this year will be 2 and 4). Baby sister is due in August too so maybe we could have a triple party! This should save us bunches.

Guest's picture

When I throw a birthday party for one of my kids we create and print our own invitations, I've learned to bake and decorate cakes. This I try to get creative with, but they're not ever going to be perfect like the store. That's the greatness of it, the memories of mom baking the cake and them getting to lick the bowl and eating cake scraps and then getting a cake decorated like whatever happens to be their favorite activity or character at the time is what makes the memories, not going to the store to buy a $20-$40 cake. Plus I get to make cake pops out of the extra cake scraps and everybody loves those. In summertime we have a cookout usually with hotdogs or chicken that we buy on sale, some baked beans and some sort of a salad. Sometimes we throw some potatoes on the grill. Tortilla chips and homemade chili cheese dip is always a winner for an appetizer. Aldi's stores have great prices on all these things.

We have been known to have a small pool set up for the kids to play, water balloon and water gun fights, and a sprinkler for outdoor fun that keeps all the kids cool and we just make a whole day of it.

For decorations I always shop the after the holidays sales at Walmart and Target and pick up streamers and other decorations that aren't too holiday specific for pennies. You can get gift bags, balloons, party favors, and other decorations at the .99 cent or Only a Dollar stores.

It's all about having fun and making memories, and you don't really need a lot of cash to do that! :)

Guest's picture
Christie

1. Don't have any. ;)
2. Have a potluck.
3. Make it a destination party at a local park or beach.
4. Keep it simple.
5. Make it fun and include water and sunshine!

Our favorite party is a potluck at a local beach with lots of sunshine, a few kayaks and boats, some simple food, and lots of sunscreen!

Guest's picture
prathee chandar

Prepare some home made lemonade. Even a simple lunch will taste like a great buffer :)

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Peg Mooers

Sales, coupons, and watching fliers for big discounts on party goods.

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Stefanie

When I moved into my new apartment, I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of extra plates and plastic glasses. I use these every time I have a party instead of paper and plastic disposables. I like to entertain often, so that initial $40 investment has saved me tons of money over the years. Yes, I do have to spend more time doing dishes during the clean-up post party. But it's nice to be left with a little stack of plates and cups instead of an overflowing trash bag with crumpled plates.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

We buy our food at Aldi's, make our own tea and lemonade, and use real plates, silverware and glasses for eating.

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MELISSA HANSSON

We buy paper supplies in bulk at Costco once a year or so. I plan menus based on what we already have or what's on clearance/sale/in season. Everything in the summer is casual & a pot luck, where all the guests chip in with yummy contributions.

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Therese

I think a small picnic potluck is the best kind of summer party

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Alissa

I throw parties with other people and share the costs.

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DeeDee

I try to make a dish using vegtables from our garden and if nothing is avalable yet I bake something from scrath to take along.

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Abby B.

We save on summer parties by barbecuing. We buy chicken and hot dogs in bulk and have everybody bring a side to share. By having the party outside we don't have to run electricity or the a/C

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Stephanie

we do potlucks and reusable dishes and silverware!

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kristine R.

Couponing! I buy things for parties when I'm not having one, that way when it is time for a party I'm already stocked up! One word: clearance!

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KelR1

I don't really host many summer parties. Usually my family will gather at my in-laws because they have the best/biggest deck and grill. So I only have to pay for whatever food I bring to contribute.

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Thrifty Writer

I just had a birthday party at home. I provided snacks (cheese, crackers, veggies, dips, chips) and cake. I told people that they were welcome to bring gifts in the form of food and alcohol. I ended up lucking out as well in that a Groupon voucher for a nearby organic grocery store was offering $20 for $40 worth of groceries. I also paid for cake ingredients (a baker friend made the cake). With what I had, plus what guests brought, I had more than enough food, and music was provided by Pandora on my laptop, plugged into an auxiliary cable on my roommate's boombox. Everyone seemed to have a great time1

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Simon

We always ask people to bring a bottle and many will often bring a dish meaning that our summer parties always turn out to be a team effort. I think it actually makes for a more enjoyable time as everyone seems to make more of an effort.

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Brenda Faulkner

We love having a pot-luck party!

Guest's picture

Oh, we usually just stay home fore parties -- we like to enjoy our yard, and have a fire going. You better believe we bring our own water bottles wherever we go, though -- those suckers are expensive!

Guest's picture

Easier to have the party where there's a pool, while everyone contributes to bringing food/drinks for the party!

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Kay

I bake birthday cakes instead of ordering those expensive sheet cakes from the grocery store. And they tastes better, too.

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Laura Jacobson

We save on our summer parties by using coupons for food...stock up on items that we will use ahead of time, and alot of time we will have guests bring a dish! Then we get a huge variety!

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Guest

Easy. I don't have them. I save a bunch that way.

I'd go to other people's summer parties, but they are busy saving by not having them either.

Imagine how much money we're accumulating.

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SerenityNow

I make it a potluck! It reduces the burden of feeding a large group of people, keeps it low-key, and you get a fun variety of dishes.

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Happy Love

Pot luck!

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Liisa

By not having too many of them! :) We prefer to have a few people over at a time, anyway, and they usually reciprocate so we get free dinner too down the road. Plus they always offer to bring something! For our July birthdays our tradition is to have a dessert party where we serve fruit, cream puffs, and then splurge on several pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (on sale, bought ahead). It is always a hit and much cheaper than a whole meal!

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Carmen

I watch for sales on items we normally need. That and we often attend or host potluck parties.