The fourth of July is almost here. I don't know about you, but any holiday that comes with fireworks is fine by me! The fact that this particular holiday happens in the summer (which means beaches, grilled delicacies, refreshing summer beverages, and fun parties) doesn't hurt either. In today's technology-rich world, I've found some neat, free apps to help take the party to the next level…without adding any party planning costs or party-day expenses to your bottom line. Happy early 4th of July!

1. Fireworks Arcade

Planning evening festivities for the "parents only" crowd and don't feel like getting a babysitter? Fun, free, holiday-themed apps for smart phones and tablets like Fireworks Arcade can keep the little ones entertained while you and your fellow hard-working parents unwind.

  • Potential cost savings: At $10/hour to hire a sitter, plus an additional $2-$5 extra for each additional child, planning festivities around free apps and games can really pay off!

2 . July 4th Fun, Facts & Trivia

On an educational but lighter note, July 4th Fun, Facts & Trivia is a perfect resource for a rousing digital game. Just pass the phone and let the competition begin!

  • Potential cost savings: See #1

3. Holiday Picture It

As the years pass by, it can be great to create a photo memory book—complete with your favorites printed out in hard copy and framed. But this can also get pricey—especially when free apps like Holiday Picture It can do all that work for you and dress up your favorite prints so you can print them at home! This free app works for every holiday (for instance, for the 4th of July alone, there are 45 captions, frames and add-ons you can choose from).

  • Potential cost savings: Walgreens charges from $0.20 to $3.99 per print, depending on the extra services you select—and $6.99 for a photo CD you can browse through. With Holiday Picture It you can create your own holiday memory book for free!

4. The Revolution: Interactive Guide

Fantastic as a classroom or home-schooling tool, this app also offers a fabulous overview of all the events leading up to the date we now celebrate as America's "Independence Day." Created by a history teacher using one 34-page chapter of a history text, the app includes interactive biographics and maps, narratives, images, artwork, and even timeline flashcards. But the best part about this app is, it makes learning and memorizing American history fun—and may even boost test scores.

  • Potential cost savings: Other than the cost of parental sanity in attempting to persuade the younger set that learning history is worth it, neat apps can act as self-tutoring classes (at anywhere from $10 – $75 per hour depending on skill level).

5. PitchIn 

PitchIn is "the" app for when you are planning a potluck or shared 4th of July party and you need to know who is doing what by when for how many. The app facilitates completing to-do lists, taking RSVPs, expenses sharing, party updates, and much more.

  • Potential cost savings: There’s a reason potlucks are so enduringly popular. By inviting co-hosts and guests to "pitch in," you reduce your personal cash outlay by each co-participant. Free apps like PitchIn can save the main host a bundle on party costs!

6. Pepper Plate

Whether your Independence Day plans include a sit-down dinner, a casual barbeque, or some mid-way meeting point, Pepper Plate is your in-house menu planning app. Create and manage your shopping lists, plan out meals and beverages, share your plans with co-hosts, manage and edit favorite recipes, and much more. You can even use the in-app cooking timer to help keep track of multiple cook times for all your dishes.

  • Potential cost savings: Saving money on the menu is hard if you miscalculate the number of guests. Either you end up with too many pricey leftovers, or you’re faced with rushing to the store at the last minute to get what you need—even if you don't have any coupons handy. With Pepper Plate you can ensure neither scenario will occur.

7. Party & Event Planner Lite (for iOS) / My Party Free (for Android)

  • Get P&EPL for iTunes (free)
  • Get MPF for Android (free)

These two apps are remarkably similar—and both free. Both apps help you manage the entire party planning process—from selecting a date to selecting the guest list to posting event updates to your social media profiles.

  • Potential cost savings: While it may be tempting for busy adults (and especially parents!) to hire a party planner rather than attempt to find the time to plan events personally, good event planners charge anywhere from $100 – $300 per hour for their time—and that’s without gratuity and without any of the actual costs of the event itself calculated in! These apps make planning your own event both cheap and easy.

8. Music Party

Finally, no 4th of July festivities would be complete without tunes! This neat app lets everyone at the party try their hand at DJ'ing by picking out songs, making requests, voting on favorites, and more. The app can connect up to 16 smart devices simultaneously, create pre-selected or on-the-spot mix lists, re-order sets at will, and more.

  • Potential cost savings: Many music services are beginning to charge for music mixes. For instance, Spotify charges $10 per month to each user. But this app gives you great music mixes in a jiffy—absolutely free.
8 Free Apps to Celebrate America’s Independence Day—and Keep Party Costs Low