Now that summer is nearly here, that means one thing: everyone will suddenly be in party mode. There’s just something inherently appealing about summer days spent dancing and mingling with friends without worrying about whether it’s too cold, too windy, or too grey.
But when summer arrives, we’re often unprepared for the long weekends that have been on the calendar all year—and planning for a party can take the fun out of the party. Don’t worry, though. We’ve got you covered.
There are some easy tricks to throwing a last-minute, cheap summer party with your friends. And the best part? You can get away with spending less than $50.
Cheap booze doesn’t mean bad booze
Buying alcohol for your guests is one of the easiest ways to go over budget, but it’s also the biggest way that you can save money. There are plenty of great wines out that are less than $10 and opting for something other than the craft beer will get you far. And there are some ways to stretch your alcohol options by creating your own in-house drink special.
Consider making a pitcher of sangria with a basic rum, gin, or vodka along with cut-up fruit to mix things up. Or, you can do as the Spanish youth do, and make a calimocho cocktail by simply adding some Coca-Cola to red wine. Plan to spend around $20 on drinks and fruit for a party of five. If more people are coming through, there’s no shame in making it a potluck and a BYOB event. After all, you’re already providing the space and setting the backdrop for the good times to roll!
The dollar store is your friend
Some people will argue that decorations are not necessary to throw a good party. This may be true, but there’s no denying that a few good streamers, balloons, confetti, or cheap tablecloths will help set the scene. Don’t spend more than you need to, though. A trip to the dollar store is enough for you score the essentials. $5 worth of decor is enough.
Make it toothpick-friendly
While you’re at the dollar store, make sure to pick up napkins, cups, and toothpicks. Forget the paper plates and make food and snacks easy for guests to munch on. You don’t need a three-course meal, just bites that are small enough for people to pick with a toothpick. Plan on no more than $5 here as well.
Make time for prep time
You’re probably thinking, what are we picking up with those dollar store toothpicks? Lovely cheeses, while one of the greatest culinary indulgences around, are an easy way to overdo it on your already scrimpy budget. Opt instead for some large fruit. Think: watermelon, pineapple, and melons. Browse the grocery store for items that are in-season and stay away from pre-cut (read: pricier) options. You’ll save big by buying sausage links from the butcher and cooking and slicing them into small pieces. Plan on spending around $20.
Repurpose your holiday lights
If you need inspiration for what else to do with holiday lights, just look at any Pinterest board tagged “college dorm room.” Dig up the lights you’ve stored away for the end of the year and hang them up in your backyard or even inside your home for some extra lighting and ambiance.
Dust off those party games
If you’re already cleaning out the garage looking for holiday lights and other things you can repurpose for your last-minute party, go ahead and dust off those party games you’ve held on to but always forget about. Focus on games that are easy to play and that work for large groups of people. (You can probably skip Scrabble.) Trivia games and Jenga are party classics for a reason. And there’s always at least one person at the party who can lead a card game.
Stretch your seating with extra pillows
Maybe you don’t have a stack of foldable chairs laying around in the off-chance you’ll have guests over. If that’s the case, think of alternative seating areas. If you’re having an intimate get-together indoors, have some extra pillows to double up as seating on the floor. If your party is outdoors, throw down a blanket or two you don’t mind getting dirty and make things picnic-style. If neither of those sound appealing, get people dancing!
Have playlists on hand
It goes without saying that a great playlist will always get the party started. Own your role as host/DJ and curate your own playlists ahead of time so you’re not met with awkward background silence. If you own the Amazon Fire TV Stick or another Bluetooth option, you can connect your playlist to your TV. In doing so, you’ll have a stereo sound system without having to rent or buy new speakers.