Budget Entertaining Is Easy! 6 Outdoor Party Ideas That Won’t Cost A Bundle

Last Updated on June 1, 2021

MyFinancialTimes is a reader-centric site. We may receive compensation from the products and services we mention or recommend in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Remuneration may impact where offers appear. We may not include all available products or offerings. To learn more you can visit our advertising policy and editorial policy.

Entertaining on a budget can be stressful. Especially when it comes to outdoor parties. You want to buy those amazing flowers, hire that incredible band, and get catering from the fancy place down the street. But that becomes super-expensive.

Don’t worry! There are easy ways to budget and save when entertaining outdoors. It just takes a little creativity.

Here are 6 ways to throw a fabulous party on the cheap:

Use Coupons and Make it a Potluck

Want to a throw an elegant barbecue for 20 friends? Make sure you look for sales and coupons in all of the weekly circulars. When sending out your invites, ask people to bring their own homemade side dishes. You can even share recipes in a digital recipe book!

If you’re making the burgers and hot dogs, see if your friends can bring over the macaroni salad or desserts. And definitely buy your food in bulk at stores like Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club!

Save on Paper Plates, Cups and Cutlery 

We often find ourselves wanting to buy the cute, colorful and themed plates for our parties. But those can quickly throw off your budget. The best way to save money on paper plates and plastic cutlery is to buy in bulk. Again, Costco is your friend. If there isn’t one near you, you can buy 288 paper bowls on Amazon for only $21!

For plates on the cuter side, Party City has an 8 count of plates for $1.99 a pack.

Scout Out Deals on Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair and Overstock both have great deals on top brands. Patio Productions also has a good range of high-quality outdoor dining sets.

Need to entertain on a budget? Target has some gorgeous patio sets starting at only $150. Costco, BJ’s and Walmart also have great deals on outdoor furniture and decor.

Budget by checking the clearance floor, look for sales and consider returned or lightly used patio furniture. Check out Facebook Marketplace and LetGo (now known as OfferUp).

You can find someone to get your lawn party-ready with services provided on websites like Angie’s List and Thumbtack. Ask budget-friendly landscapers to create some fabulous curb appeal.

Do it Yourself

One great way to budget on lights is use string lights from last year’s Christmas decorations. Need something a bit sturdier? Check out the unique lights at the Paper Lantern Store. Amazon and Target are also go-to options for outdoor decor.

Buying a lot of flowers at your local supermarket or farmers market can break the bank. Supporting small businesses in your area is often a budget-friendly option. You can also buy some colorful blooms at your local Lowes. Check out what they have available in the nursery on your next DIY run.

As for balloons, this website has some great deals and promotions. And, yet again, Amazon proves to be a go-to for any party planning needs. If you want to do cute balloon arches or garlands, buy a kit and do it yourself. Both Amazon and Party City have adorable balloon arch kits for under $30!

Create Your Own Cocktail Bar

The idea of having bartenders sounds amazing. They create awe-inspiring cocktails, and you don’t have to lift a finger. The problem? The cost!

If you’re really set on having one or two bartenders, try posting an ad in advance on Craigslist. Maybe some local waiters or waitresses need to make extra money. Many college students want side gigs on weekends, as well.

You can try Thumbtack to find one or two staffers to help at the party. If it’s a bigger event request a quote at Party Waiters. The company has everyone from servers to bartenders and entertainment.

If you really want to slash your budget do a grab-and-go bar. Remember that potluck we talked about? Set it up on an outdoor table and let your guests serve themselves. That allows friends to gather and talk about how to make the perfect cocktail!

Make Your Own Music

If you’re on a serious budget, a band or DJ may be too expensive. Bluetooth speakers are a smart, easy solution. You can find hundreds on Amazon, with costs ranging from $25 to $80. You can also find speakers in stores like Target and Best Buy.

DJs may charge anywhere from $75 to $100 dollars per hour for an event. If you’re dying to have a band consider looking up local groups in or around your area.

Some young bands first starting out may have options between $500 and $1500. Just remember to tip them at the end of the night!