This summer’s event planning forecast? Frugal. Fun. Fierce.

Wait. Never thought you’d hear those words in the same sentence after years of party buyer’s remorse? Is it actually possible to live richly on a budget? Absolutely. With a bit of extra party planning and ingenuity, you can throw a memorable event at a beautiful outdoor event location without burning a hole in your wallet. Cut costs (but never class!) with these finance-friendly party-planning tips.

Cross bottled water and pop off the grocery list. Drink costs can definitely add up! Opt instead for pitchers of water and drinks that can be made in quantity, like iced tea, lemonade or Sangria. Pinch your penny even further by freezing your own ice—why pay for what’s just water?

Ditch your go-to grocer just this once. Instead of automatically hitting the grocery story, check local dollar stores for low priced picnic supplies—maybe even avoid the expensive disposables altogether! Your regular dishes and flatware are perfect, especially since mismatched dishes work well when dining outdoors.

A mouthwatering menu for less? Think theme. Savings are a snap when you consciously choose a party theme that doesn’t call for an expensive menu! A few cheap and elegant ideas:

  • Host a wine and cheese party on the patio. Have each guest bring a bottle of wine and dine on a spread of simple cheeses. Easily avoid utensils altogether with finger food!
  • An al fresco brunch in the morning calls for a menu that’s lighter, cheaper and easier to prepare. Even better, the weather is cooler in the morning and alcohol is not a party staple—a relief for your budget!
  • Plan a joint affair. Share a birthday month with your friend? Celebrate together! Sharing the expense of a soiree with another person or couple is an easy way to save money, resources and time. Prepping is also more enjoyable when done with a buddy.
  • Some final menu secrets? Avoid convenience items when planning the menu—precut items like fruits and veggies always cost more. Also, there’s no need to scrounge for party favors if you play your cooking cards right. Simply make extra barbeque sauce or salsa to send home with guests in cheap yet adorable jars.

The ultimate party venue location… just down the street? If your gathering is too big for the backyard, don’t assume you have to spend a fortune renting an event venue … get back to the basics by searching for outdoor venues that are inexpensive, or get this, free! Grilling at a free outdoor venue is an inexpensive way to entertain. Whether the park is outdoorsy or has more of a ‘city chic’ feel, guests will love the effortless picnic ambience. Who doesn’t love an old fashioned game of softball, badminton or Frisbee?

Have even more ideas for a summer soiree that’s festive and frugal? Share with the Snappening community on Facebook or Twitter!