Independence Day on a Budget: 10 Simple Rules

Independence Day On a Budget: 10 Simple Rules
Written by Oana Schneider

You’ve probably been watching the National Parade on TV ever since you can remember, and for some reason that seems like a very boring thing to do on such a great day. And you’re right Independence Day should be more about how you relate to your country and less about the splendor and magnificence you see on TV.

I love Independence Day coupons and deals but then again, who doesn’t! Call me old-fashioned, but I have my ways to celebrate this beautiful day without chipping at any of my guests’ enthusiasm. I am not saying that my way is the best way, but it’s the way we do things in my family and so far it’s worked for us. When it comes to celebrating the Independence Day on a budget, these are my 10 commandments:

1. Always think about the little ones.

If you have kids coming to your party, make sure to keep them occupied. They are easily bored and don’t quite understand the significance of this day. This is why there is something my husband does every year: He puts together a puppet show to explain what Independence Day is. The puppets can take questions from their little audience and really teach kids things that grown-ups fail to. Also, I always bake an American flag cake, and I try to never repeat myself. For example, this year I’m baking a 25 pound pile of deliciousness for which I am using vanilla, blueberries and strawberries. To pull this off, I have enrolled two wonderful helpers: my mother-in-law and my grandma.

2. Keep the men occupied.

Kids are not the only ones who get bored, but you knew that already. If you take the TV from them, they instantly become restless 5-year-olds, which is not pretty. In order to avoid all that, we play a game called “Acting Class”- each participant has to act like a character from a historic movie, but without saying a word. You are allowed to grin, frown and even weep a little if that helps. The faster people recognize your character, the better your score is going to be.

3. It’s all about that grill.

You know it! We tried to avoid grilling last year, and our celebration was just weird, so never again are we doing that! Here are my tips for a great Independence Day meal: Never use a rub for the meat. All you need to do is rub some onion on your grill. That and the smoke will make your burgers taste like heaven.

Second, make your own bread buns if you can. You’ll have to do that a few hours before your guests start showing up, just to make sure you didn’t mess up. This way, you’ll have time to bake another batch of flavorful buns if needed. My third tip would be to never serve more than beer and lemonade when it comes to drinks. Keep it simple: You do have to eat, but let’s not forget why we are throwing this party in the first place.

Number four has to be: side dishes- as many and as varied as they can be! And last but not least, never ever buy sweets or snacks: there are so many tutorials online to help you with that! Of course, this is a lot of work, but the reward is so sweet! Personally, I think there’s nothing better than seeing a bunch of people enjoying my food. It makes me think about our freedom as a nation, our unlimited possibilities and what a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country. And coming from someone who was born overseas, that’s something.

Independence Day On a Budget: 10 Simple Rules

4. DO decorate your home.

If you do it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, you should really do it for Independence Day as well! You don’t have to spend a lot of money on the accessories if you have a bunch of mason jars, cardboard boxes and paint around the house. Last year I refused to throw away any of my milk jugs, despite my husband’s persuasion.

A couple of days before 4th of July I painted them red, white and blue and used those to draw the US contour on the ground.  The kids had a lot of fun trying to figure out which country goes where and so on. My first and foremost frugal rule is: Never ever throw away packaging. This has saved a lot of money on wrapping paper, decorations, table cloths, salt and pepper shakers and the list goes on.

5. Take advantage of the Independence Day sales.

Just because they are having a sale doesn’t mean you have to buy something. However, this is my favorite time of the year to buy stationery and other school-related items (pens, pencils, glue etc.). Nobody in our family is going to school anymore, but I like to handwrite a lot.

6. Dress respectfully.

I don’t have anything against people who decide to celebrate their freedom in flip-flops, but that’s one thing I’ll never do. Put on an outfit that’s nice and clean, decent and pleasant to the eye. You don’t necessarily have to wear something red, white and blue, but then again, what better time to do it?

7. Where’s your flag?

If you don’t have an American flag outside your home, it’s about time you purchased one and changed that! You just can’t celebrate Independence Day without its most significant symbol! A few years ago I made a star-spangled tablecloth that we use every year: it looks so good in all our pictures, it only took 1 hour to make, and I only spent $5 on fabric.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can still use a needle and some thread to create your own flag-inspired tablecloth. I don’t know how other American families relate to the flag, but we go all in: bed sheets, tablecloths, outfits, cakes and cookies, decorations. Less is definitely not more in this case!

Independence Day On a Budget: 10 Simple Rules

8. Don’t forget your elders.

Your grandma, grandpa, aunt Pearl and uncle Earl need to be at your party! They know a few things about freedom that you don’t. Maybe some of them fought in the war and have interesting stories. Give them a call and invite them over! Plus, they are so great with kids!

9. Bring out the quilts.

We have a few good ones in our home, and we always find a place for them in our Independence Day party. When you are doing everything on a budget, like me, you get really creative. We never had enough chairs for our parties, but my husband made a great bench out of a few old wooden boards. Now, all I have to do is cover it with a quilt or two and we’re all nice and comfy.

10. Fireworks.

You have to have fireworks. Don’t go for anything flamboyant, just a few small poppers. The town hall is going to do something special, probably, so you can all hop in your cars and drive to see the big fireworks. Otherwise, for safety and financial reasons, you shouldn’t try to play with firecrackers at home. Even better yet, how about some confetti instead? You can make them out of any kind of paper and throw them into the air using a t-shirt cannon, for example. If you don’t have that, you can use your car’s battery compressor.

This is how we celebrate Independence Day on a budget at my house. We cook and bake a lot, decorate a lot, grill a lot, laugh a lot and then sleep a lot. How do you do it?

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • I cannot wait for the big day to arrive. I love it every single year, and always try to do something a little bit different that everyone is going to remember. Of course, the thing that I think is the most important is spending time with the family and friends who are close to, but a key part of that is making sure – as you say – that there is something for everybody to do during the day. So if you’re wondering if you have enough planned, simply put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask yourself what you would if you were them.

  • Ever since the large city near me stopped putting on their fireworks, my area has been overrun with traffic and people flooding in to watch our little fireworks celebration.

    These days, we have stopped watching from our old standby location, and watch from the neighborhood beach, instead, since we can walk, and not deal with crowds and traffic.

    I always check out Dollar Tree for red white and blue bargains. I still have leftover patriotic plates and napkins from last year, but that won’t stop me from heading there tomorrow to pick up some new goodies. Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Leave a Reply