7 Frugal Ways to Celebrate 4th of July

The biggest celebration of summer–the Fourth of July–is on its way, and it's bringing star-spangled celebrations with it. Family, friends, food, and fireworks are just a few of the highlights of this holiday. But although the theme of the holiday is freedom, a day full of partying can end up leaving you a slave to debt.

But that's not how it has to be. You can have an unforgettable day of celebration without overspending. Read on to discover frugal ways to celebrate the Fourth of July with your family and friends.

  1. Invite Friends to Pitch In

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    Barbecues are a staple of summer, and you can serve a traditional Independence Day picnic meal that includes hot dogs, hamburgers and ribs for less than $6 per person. Even still, it's best for your wallet–and your sanity–if you ask others to contribute to the meal.

    To ensure good variety, ask your guests to claim ahead of time what dish or dishes they plan to bring to the meal. Consider using a paper sign-up sheet or an online form to record contributions. You could also have guests volunteer to bring paper goods, ice or garbage bags.

  2. Have a BYOB Party

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    Alcohol can be one of the biggest budget-busters of a summer party. In general, you should plan on having 1.25 drinks per guest, but in hot weather, that number goes up.

    Instead of supplying all of the drinks yourself, ask party guests to bring their own. Everyone could bring their own cooler from which to pull their personal refreshment throughout the festivities, or everybody's contributions could be added to a communal beverage stash. Either way, the host saves money on booze.

  3. Keep Decorations Simple

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    Although you can find plenty of decorations festooned with flag and firework images, buying all of those plates, cups and napkins can really add up. Instead of purchasing seasonal items, go for goods that are available year-round.

    For example, red or blue plastic tablecloths from the party aisle are usually only a dollar each, and they may be even less if you buy a multipack. In addition to covering tables, you can use these cheap table coverings to make other decorations, such as a festive bunting.

    Your store probably has red plastic cups in the paper goods aisle. These cups are usually bigger than the paper ones sold specifically for the Fourth, and they come in a larger pack too.

  4. Make Crafts with the Kids

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    Whether you're entertaining a crowd of kids or just your own, craft projects can be a fun way to pass the day. Done right, they can be cheap too. For example, kids will enjoy making paper firecracker decorations out of repurposed cardboard tubes.

    Craft projects are also an easy way to give everyone involved a patriotic look. Make beaded necklaces in red, white and blue, or fashion a baubly headband to wear to the fireworks.

  5. Choose Sparklers over Backyard Fireworks

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    Some families spend a few hundred dollars or more at their local fireworks stand. Although it can be fun to set off these backyard blasts, if you think about it, you're really just watching your money go up in smoke.

    Instead, concentrate your efforts on just one type of pyrotechnic experience: sparklers. These sizzling sticks appeal to both kids and kids-at-heart, and you can generally find inexpensive bundles at nearly any retail establishment around the Fourth.

    If you're really feeling adventurous, you can make your own sparklers. After buying the ingredients, you'll probably spend more than you would on store-bought sparklers, but it's a unique way to get your family in the holiday mood.

  6. Attend a Street Festival

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    Instead of hosting a get-together, go somewhere where the entertainment has already been planned for you. Many communities hold outdoor festivals in honor of Independence Day. The activity lineup might include parades, children's games, demonstrations, and concerts.

    Admission to these events is often free, but other aspects of the event may not be, so plan carefully. Attend between meal times so you don't have to fill up on expensive carnival food. Focus your time on the free entertainment that is offered. If you are interested in rides, weigh the money-saving value of an all-inclusive bracelet instead of purchasing individual ride tickets.

  7. Avoid Parking Costs

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    For many people, attending their community's fireworks is the highlight of the holiday. Although cities spend thousands of dollars to put on their displays, admission to the viewing location is often free.

    Parking, however, can be a different story. One of the best ways to save is to arrive early; you may be able to snag a free spot on the street or in a public lot. If that's not an option, consider carpooling with friends so everyone can split the parking cost. Taking public transportation may also be cheaper than paying for parking.

    Of course, the easiest way to save on parking costs is to skip the crowds entirely and watch a fireworks display online.

Have you gained any new ideas for how to hold a memorable Fourth of July celebration that comes in under budget? There's nothing like a free fireworks display, so that's where I plan to be this Independence Day. Leave your money-saving celebration tips below, and please be sure to share this article with your fun-loving friends.

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