10 Budget-Friendly 4th of July Ideas [Recipes Inside]

While we are all about celebrating the birth of our great nation, we don’t believe you should spend a lot of money (or go into debt) celebrating it.

But that wasn’t the case in 2023. Americans spent more than ever.

“Total consumer spending [for 2023’s] Fourth of July holiday is expected to reach $9.5 billion, up from $7.7 billion in 2022 and $7.5 billion the year before, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual Independence Day consumer survey. The 23% jump in spending is the most growth recorded by the survey.”¹

In a time when social media reigns supreme, it can be easy to get caught up in it all and think your 4th of July celebration needs to have more than it actually does.

Do you really have to buy new American flag-specific décor for every area of your home? Probably not.

For those looking to celebrate on the cheap, check out these ten budget-friendly 4th of July ideas.

#1 Say No to Hosting Fireworks

Probably the most budget-friendly 4th of July thing you can do is not to host your own fireworks displays.

Fireworks can be really expensive.

In 2022, Americans spent $2.3 billion on fireworks.²

The average cost of a fireworks display ranges from $2,000 to $20,000.³

Instead of spending money to put on your own fireworks show, go to a community event instead.

If you plan to host an event, host it in the early afternoon so people can go elsewhere in the evening for fireworks.

#2 Embrace Sparklers

If you are set on adding some sparkle to your 4th of July, but don’t want to head to a public fireworks display, stock up on sparklers.

Sparklers are significantly cheaper than fireworks, and the kids love them.

#3 Host a Potluck

One of the more traditional budget-friendly 4th of July ideas is to host a potluck.

Rather than supplying everything, ask guests to contribute.

As the host, you may choose to provide the main course, such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

Then, ask guests to bring sides and desserts.

If you do want to contribute more than the main dish, be on the lookout for budget-friendly 4th of July recipes.

Here’s a fun, inexpensive recipe for Red, White, and Blue Finger Jell-O from Parade.


  • 1 (6-oz) box Berry Blue Jell-O
  • 1 (6-oz) box Strawberry Jell-O
  • 4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • boiling water and cold water


  1. Spray a 9×13-inch Pyrex pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Make the blue layer: In a medium bowl, mix the blue Jell-O with 1 envelope of the unflavored gelatin. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until quite firm.
  3. Make the white layer: In another bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water. In a separate small bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin over ½ cup cold water. Let stand for a few minutes and then add ½ cup boiling water to dissolve the gelatin. Add to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature. Pour the white layer over the firmed-up blue Jell-O layer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until quite firm.
  4. Make the red layer: In a medium bowl, mix the red Jello with 1 envelope of the unflavored gelatin. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour over the firmed-up white layer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
  5. Slice into individual servings (small enough to hold in your hand), scoop out with a small spatula and serve. For a more festive look, turn some of them upside-down so you have both red and blue showing on your serving platter.

#4 Decorate with Food

A cheap and easy way to make any 4th of July event more festive is to embrace the color theme with food and beverages.

For instance, serve red sangria, white sangria, and blue lemonade.

Or make a red, white, and blue bundt cake like this one from Yummy Healthy Easy.


  • 1 box white cake mix
  • ingredients required from cake mix oil, egg whites
  • red food coloring
  • blue food coloring
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fat-free milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 325ºF. Generously spray a bundt cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Make cake mix according to the box directions, using water, oil, and egg whites.
  3. Pour 1 1/4 cup of the batter into a small bowl and color it red with food coloring.
  4. Pour 1 cup of batter into another bowl and mix in blue coloring.
  5. Pour red batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Carefully pour the white batter over the red batter in the pan.
  6. Now, carefully pour the blue batter over the white – it doesn’t need to cover the white all the way.
  7. Bake as directed on the box, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool until warm, and then flip over onto a serving platter or plate.

#5 Wear Red, White, and Blue

If you search for 4th of July clothing, you will find a lot of patriotic clothing designed just for this one day.

Rather than purchasing something new that you will only wear one day a year, just wear patriotic-colored clothing you already own.

It’s simple and classic.

#6 Play Old-Fashioned Lawn Games

Lawn games are a great form of entertainment, but you don’t need to go overboard.

If you already own a cornhole set, great!

If you don’t, you don’t need to go out and buy one.

Set out decks of cards on the tables.

Throw some frisbees and footballs on the lawn.

Turn the sprinkler on so the kids can run through it.

Host a variety of old-school games such as:

  • Egg spoon races
  • Tug of war
  • Sack races
  • Three-legged races
  • Limbo

#7 Decorate on the Cheap

The stores make it easy to overspend on holiday decorations, including the 4th of July.

You don’t need to buy special 4th of July decorations.

If you do, then buy cheap ones.

For example, buy red, white, and blue balloons to decorate the tables.

Use plain red tablecloths.

Put out markers, crayons, and paper for kids to DIY decorate as part of their entertainment.

#8 Borrow Instead of Buy

If you are hosting, look for opportunities to borrow things you need rather than buying them.

For instance, ask neighbors if you can borrow tents, chairs, and fans.

#9 Make Your Event BYOB

One of the most expensive parts of hosting is purchasing beverages.

Rather than splurging on alcohol for all your guests, tell those invited to BYOB.

Have coolers, cups, and ice ready.

#10 Shop for Next Year

If you enjoy celebrating the 4th of July, consider heading out on July 5th and stocking up on discounted supplies for next year.

Have fun, and stay safe!

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