We're reader-supported and only partner with brands we trust. When you buy through links on our site we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date and time indicated and are subject to change.
I’ve rounded up my favorite summer party hacks perfect for families on a budget. Just in time for warm weather! These are easy, cheap, and are sure to wow your guests.
So, if you’re looking for outdoor party games, food, and decor ideas, I’ve got you covered. Best part? You can do most of these for dirt cheap.
Check out these ways to save money on your next summer party:
- How to save money shopping at Dollar Tree
- Use food coupons whenever you’re shopping at a grocery or drug store. Stack them with Ibotta offers to save even more!
- Bookmark outdoor coupons and deals so you’re the first to know when something on your summer party shopping list goes on sale.
1. Skip the insect repellent and put a dryer sheet in your pocket instead.
According to a study done at the University of Illinois and Kansas State, dryer sheets were proven to repel gnats. While the study wasn’t focused on mosquitos, many have found that dryer sheets are annoying to them as well. Most dryer sheets contain linalool, which is a natural mosquito repellent found in lavender, marjoram, coriander, and basil. (Mosquitos aren’t too fond of those plants either.)
Prefer stronger insect repellent? Use these Off! coupons to save.
2. Every summer party needs a sticky fingers station.
Just think of your air conditioning bill after guests open and shut your door on repeat just to wash their hands. One of the best outdoor party ideas ever is to bring the cleaning station to them.
You can do this with a simple bucket, hand wipes, and sanitizer, or you can use a water jug and hand soap to make it a full hand-washing station. (Think: camping. This is what we do for cleaning hands in the great outdoors.)
And hey, don’t pay full price for any of this stuff! Here’s what you need to save money:
Paper towel coupons
Hand sanitizer coupons
Baby wipes coupons
3. Painted pineapple crowns are easy (and cheap) outdoor party decorations.
If your summer party theme is along the lines of tropical, or maybe an island theme, this is the perfect decor. It works as a table centerpiece, or just scattered around your backyard.
Pineapples are dirt cheap in the summer — usually under $2 each. Use a foam brush and acrylic paint to color the crowns to match your theme.
Get your hands on produce coupons or download the Ibotta app to watch for rebate offers on produce like pineapple.
4. Use ketchup and mustard to write guests’ burger preferences.
Whoever is on the grill during your summer party will appreciate the thought as they juggle different requests from people.
If you don’t want to hover around the grill, carefully use ketchup or mustard to write “W” for well done, or “R” for rare on your bun. This way, the chef knows what you’d like even if you set your plate down and walk away. If you’re worried about a mix-up between “W” and “M” for medium, go ahead and write out “Well” or “Med.”
While you’re at it, mark the bun with your name so it’s clear who it belongs to.
Get ketchup coupons so you can stock up and save money.
5. Pre-scoop your ice cream so it’s summer party-ready.
It ain’t a summer party without ice cream to cool you down. Problem is, nobody wants to be the person scooping it — or the one with melted ice cream up to their elbows in the middle of the party.
So, deal with the mess before the party instead by prepping scoops ahead of time. Put them inside silicone baking cup liners or the like.
Psst… there are ice cream deals galore during the summer months. Don’t even think about buying full-price treats.
6. Make watermelon pops and enjoy less mess.
To make watermelon pops, cut the melon into small triangles. Then use a small knife to create a slit at the base of the rind. Slide popsicle sticks into the rind!
Kids will think it’s fun, but you’ll know the real reason you did it: to keep the mess down. Muahaha.
Go ahead and use this trick on all melons. Cantaloupe and honeydew pops work, too!
7. Use a wine glass for a DIY chips-and-dip bowl.
A wine or margarita glass makes a great salsa holder.
Next, all you need is a big plastic bowl and some tortilla chips and you’re all set. I bet you have most of this on hand.
…Except maybe the chips and salsa. Don’t pay full price for those either! Use chips coupons to get a deal on tortilla chips and Pace coupons for cheap salsa!
8. Prevent ice cream from leaking through a cone with a marshmallow.
Can you tell I love ice cream but dislike the mess? Here’s another way to contain melty ice cream. Place a marshmallow inside the base of the cone before you add your scoops.
Any size works, although for a waffle cone, I’d go with a jumbo marshmallow. Tell kids there’s a prize at the bottom and see who gets to it first.
9. Instead of water balloons, throw sponge balls.
This is one of my favorite summer party ideas! It’s somewhere between a game and an excuse to cool off. Kids will love it.
You’ll need two plain sponges per ball. Cut each sponge into six long strips and stack six strips on top of six like this:
Place a rubber band tightly around the center of all the pieces, then manually move the pieces to form a star shape.
Fill up a couple buckets with water, soak the sponges, and throw them around for fun on a hot summer day.