As the end of summer approaches, there are many reasons to celebrate the last days of lazy afternoons and endless warmth. Yet back-to-school expenses and upcoming fall endeavors may leave you feeling limited when it comes to throwing a summer party on a budget. Good news: throwing a fabulous party doesn’t have to break the bank! If you love great design and you want to go big, keep reading for tips and tricks that will maximize your budget and create an elegant fete your guests will remember…

Budget-Friendly Decor

Since Decoist is a blog for design lovers, let’s start with eye-catching decor! Keep in mind that if you’re a foodie, you may choose to limit the eye candy and go straight for the gourmet candy. With that said, if you want summer decor that makes a statement, here are a few budget-friendly ideas.

Decor Tip #1: Use paper fans to your advantage.

For under $20, you can create a beautiful backdrop that will be the centerpiece of your party, as well as a place for guests to take photos. Mix a bunting fan garland with paper fans in the colors of your choice. I used mint and teal:

Decor Tip #2: Make it sparkle.

Turn up the glam factor with a theme that really sparkles. “Modern mermaid” was my party theme, complete with a sequined table runner that I picked up on Amazon for under $10. This one shimmering statement took everything up a notch, from the decor around my house that I repurposed as party decorations to the paper plates I purchased for serving!

Decor Tip #3: Let your own decor double as party decorations.

Chances are, you have something around the house that you can use as party decor. For me, it was vases and breezy accents. From the mint vase that held the super-affordable greenery (that I picked up because it resembled sea plants), to the ’80s Deco spherical vase that I filled with faux and real coral, it was easy to create the modern mermaid vibe I wanted. It also helped that I let the colors in my home set the party palette. This guaranteed that I’d have plenty of decor to pull for the party. Another tip: don’t be afraid to let your potted plants embellish your party table.

Decor Tip #4: Add flair with balloons.

Balloons are not a must for your party, but they can sure take things to the next level, especially if children will be attending the party. If you’re wanting to fill a lot of balloons, it may be cheaper to purchase your own mini helium tank, which can be as affordable as around $20. This step also eliminates the need to drive to the party superstore the day of your fete to pick up the balloons. I enjoy combining packs of affordable latex balloons with 1-2 special focal points, like this sparkling seahorse balloon:

Affordable Food and Drinks

Everything may look great, but you can’t have hungry guests! You may also want a party table that features one or two special items, such as a signature cocktail or an interesting dessert. Keep reading for a few ideas that will maximize your dollar.

Foodie Tip #1: Create a party cocktail with budget-friendly ingredients, such as refreshing wine, simple syrup and citrus.

Party drinks can set a festive tone for the night, but you don’t need to spend $200 on liquor to get the job done. I enjoy having bottles of affordable (and reliably delicious) Vinho Verde on hand, especially on the hot days of summer. Offer a few chilled bottles for guests who want to drink it as is, and use a few bottles to mix a signature cocktail. You’d be surprised at how adding a couple of affordable ingredients can make this wine shine! Simple syrup and lemon juice work well. A dash of bitters is optional. You can even create an easy summer sangria by adding sliced fruit and brandy!

Foodie Tip #2: Add designer touches to a cake baked at your favorite grocery store or market.

A beautiful dessert can be the centerpiece of your food table! If you’re short on time and don’t want to bake, start with a basic cake that you purchase at an affordable location, such as a grocery store bakery that does a good job on sweets. If they won’t sell you extra icing on the side, they can ice the cake with a very thin layer for you, and you can then take it to the next level with icing that you whip up quickly from a few ingredients! For my party, I wanted to create an ombre effect that channeled the mystery of the sea. I used this amazing tutorial from Honeysuckle to get the job done.

Foodie Tip #3: Host an appetizer or dessert party rather than serving a full meal.

It’s better to promise a little and deliver a lot than to promise lunch or dinner and scramble to stay within budget. An appetizer party lets you go all out with little nibbles, while a dessert party holds many possibilities, including a candy buffet/bar. Create a beautiful presentation of decadent treats and nobody will feel like they’re doing without!

Wishing you and yours a relaxing, festive end to summer. Thanks for reading!

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