4 Money-Saving Tips For Summer Parties And Picnics

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Two men and one woman outdoors with a wooden table with food.

Have everyone bring a dish to your summer party. You’ll save money and have a greater variety of food.

Summer is a great time of the year to enjoy some fresh air and some good company. That makes it the perfect season to throw a party!

There are a lot of ways that you can do this, but with food, drinks, and decorations, hosting your friends and family can get expensive. I’m finding this out firsthand, as I plan a picnic to celebrate my college graduation.

Fortunately, I’ve come up with some ideas to cut costs, and I think they could be helpful for any picnic or party. Here are four ways I plan to save.


1. Buy In Bulk

If you are having a lot of people over, like for a graduation party or reunion, buying in bulk is one of your best options. Not only do you get a lot of product, but you also could save a lot of money!

Great food items to buy in bulk include beverages, hot dogs, eggs, pastas, and in-season fruits and vegetables. Also, paper goods, such as paper plates, cups, napkins, and plastic-ware, can be cost-effective to purchase this way.

The great thing about buying food in bulk is that you can use leftovers later—as long as you have a plan to do so before items go bad. You can compare prices from your local wholesaler, farmer’s market, or even just your supermarket. Party and dollar stores are great resources for paper goods, as well.

2. Ask For Contributions

When my family throws parties, we often all contribute food. Kind of like a potluck! Not only do you get an amazing variety of food, but you save money too.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking your friends or family to bring a dish, but they still offer to contribute, perhaps ask them to pick up some other item. Plastic-ware, plates, cups, or beverages are a great way for someone to help out while not asking them for too much.

And if you’re the one bringing a dish, check out these cheap and healthy recipes for a BBQ.


At my party, I want to celebrate with some adult beverages with my friends and family. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get something everyone likes. Plus, all those cans, bottles, and kegs add up.

If you are interested in having alcohol at your party (and old enough to do so), a good way to save is to tell those invited to bring their own bottles (BYOB) or alcohol. That way, not only do they get what they would like to drink, but they are also happy with their decisions.

4. Decorate Minimally

Personally, I don’t think that you always need a theme or decorations for a picnic or party. However, I am not opposed to decorating either—provided you don’t spend a lot of money.

Because I am doing a graduation party, I am looking at small things, like weighted centerpieces and tablecloths that not only represent the occasion but also can serve multiple purposes. You can do that same thing for others party ideas, like luaus and reunions.


Having a great time—not worrying about expenses—is what’s important when hanging out or having a summer celebration. Hopefully, you will have a great time and find these tips helpful for your next party or picnic with family and friends!

Know of any other money-saving tips for summer entertaining? Let us know in the comments!

(Photo: susievision)

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