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6 Ways to Save Money on Your 4th of July Party
With summer in full swing, 4th of July is officially on the radar. If it's your turn to play host, the dollar signs can start adding up fast. Between food, drinks, decor and supplies, it's all too easy for even the smallest get-together to go over budget.
So how can you keep more cash in your pocket? When it comes to budget-friendly party planning, these six hacks will help you save this Independence Day.
Don't Pay for Convenience
Parties that won't break the bank often involve a little bit of planning on the backend. While it may be tempting to just order everything pre-made, your wallet will thank you if you take the time to plan ahead.
"The number one thing I would say is don't pay for convenience," advises consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch, adding that items like pre-made meats and chicken will cost you. "The markup on those types of foods is anywhere from 60 percent to sometimes 300 percent, depending on where you're shopping. It can be insanely more expensive."
According to Woroch, the same goes for pre-cut fruits and veggies, which are typically marked up anywhere from 100 to 200 percent. Instead, she advises carefully mapping out your menu beforehand and giving yourself ample time to pick up the necessities. Doing the prep work is perhaps the smartest way to stay on budget.
Buy in Bulk
Purchasing necessary items in bulk is a money-saving strategy that directly translates to party planning. With most people grilling out for the 4th of July, take advantage of anything you can buy at your local wholesale store.
"For things like cheese for the burgers and side items, like chips and salsa, definitely head to the warehouse stores," says Woroch. "You can also find some great prices on frozen appetizers."
But the biggest savings are often found on fruit. Opting for frozen fruit from a warehouse store like Costco, for example, will cost you about 30 percent less than buying fresh fruit from the grocery store. Plus, whatever you don't use can be kept in the freezer for future use, which alleviates waste.
Skip the Disposable Supplies
On impulse, most of us assume that going the paper-plate route is best for throwing a party. Woroch says not necessarily. Sucking it up and doing the dishes eliminates unnecessary spending. She adds that investing in low-cost, outdoor dinnerware is actually a better option.
"What you might want to do is pick up melamine plates at a discount store like Marshalls," she says. "If you have a lot of parties, I think it makes the most sense to spend a little bit of money, and then have these non-breakable dishes that are perfect for outdoor entertaining."
If you are going to go with paper plates, opt for your local dollar store. According to Woroch, it's a hidden gem for 4th of July decor, seasonal napkins and the like. It also represents a budget-friendly alternative to party stores.
"I don't really think [party stores] have good prices at all," says Woroch. "They tend to be marked up, and you might buy things you don't need on impulse."
For decor and dining supplies, the dollar store is where it's at.
Don't Go Crazy With the Booze
To prevent alcohol from majorly throwing off your party budget, consider going the BYOB route. "If you're handling the food, there's nothing wrong with asking friends and family if they can bring their favorite drink," Woroch says.
Another option is choosing to make one cocktail, as opposed to buying multiple types of alcohol for your guests. "I typically tell people to make one signature drink," says Heidi Rew of Parties for Pennies. "Another way to save money is to create your signature drink using soft drinks you're serving anyway."
For example, if you're already planning on serving lemonade and sweet tea at your 4th of July party, why not throw some vodka in there and make a kicked-up Arnold Palmer your signature drink?
Either way, Woroch strongly recommends purchasing all alcohol at a wholesale store.
"Warehouse stores are by far the best place to buy alcohol," she says, adding that they represent one of the largest wine distributors in North America. "They can strike up really amazing deals with these wineries, and they pass those discounts off to the consumer."
According to Woroch, shoppers can expect savings to the tune of nearly 40 percent on high-quality wine, beer and liquor.
Use Stuff You Already Have
After you make your guest list, the second order of business should be to take a quick inventory of what you've already got to work with. Have a pork loin sitting in the freezer? Consider serving pulled pork sandwiches instead of cheeseburgers. The same idea translates to decor.
"Surprisingly, most of us have a lot of tools around the house that are great for entertaining," says Rew. For instance, a colorful quilt or old picnic blanket can both easily double as a tablecloth.
Rethink Your Portion Sizes
While the do-it-yourself approach is usually the way to go, Woroch says that going with pre-made patties can sometimes make more financial sense (if the price is right). The tradeoff? The portions are usually a bit smaller, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"Most pre-made patties will be more expensive, especially when you're looking at the better-cut meats, but I do know that there are some pre-made frozen options that are actually really affordable," says Woroch. "They're often times a bit smaller than the ones we make ourselves, but the savings can be worth it."
Rew agrees, adding that making mini-style sliders instead of traditional-sized burgers is another great money-saving hack. "When you offer smaller portions, people will actually eat less, which helps eliminate waste," she says.
Throwing a stellar 4th of July party doesn't mean you have to go broke in the process. With a little bit of forethought, staying within your budget can actually be easier than you think.
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