It’s that time again! Planning a graduation party can be so expensive, but it does not have to be. There a lot of little tips and tricks on how to save money on the ultimate graduation party. Make the day memorable and epic for your new graduate and save a whole bunch of money while you are at it.
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Plan the Ultimate Graduation Party
Always start with a plan. Grab a notebook or start a new document in Google Docs and start writing EVERYTHING down. Trust me, you will forget it. This time is so absolutely exciting and you have a million things going through your brain right now.
Start a List Early
Lists, I absolutely love lists! List ideas for decorations, food, guests. As you start the in depth planning of this epic graduation party, you will be able to fine tune these lists.
Invitations for the Graduation Party
Who are you going to invite? Start making that list. Ask your spouse if they want to invite certain people. Ask your Graduate, they may want special teachers or mentors or coaches to be invited. Ask their siblings, because they may think of someone special in the Graduate’s life that is slipping your mind right now. Keep adding to the list as you think of people.
Send them out at least 6-8 weeks in advance. You can create them at home and print them yourself to save money. You could also design the invitations yourself through Walmart or Shutterfly and have them printed. Buying the custom made invitations through your child’s school can be very costly.
Create a Facebook Event if a lot of your guests are on Facebook. It is a great way to communicate with them before the event as well to get a final headcount and such.
Use E-vites if you have everyone’s email addresses. That will save you money on invitations, envelopes and stamps!
Graduation Party Venue
Are you going to have the party at home? Will you rent a venue? Do you have access to free places? Book those early!
We had our daughter’s party at home and rented a tent, tables and chairs from friend who owns a party rental business. They came the day before and set everything up and then returned a few days later to take the tent down.
If you do not want to rent a big tent, borrow smaller tents from family and neighbors and set them up together. Maybe you are part of a local club or organization or church and you can borrow tables and chairs from them. That would be a huge savings!
Some organizations or local parks will even let you use their pavillion or outdoor space for free. It never hurts to ask!
Ask friends if they have lawn games that you can borrow. Games are a great ice breaker for cousins and family that have not seen each other in a long time.
Decorations for the Graduation Party
Wow, can you spend a lot of money here! When my daughter graduated, we had grand plans for how everything should look. But you know what, no one really looked at all of those decorations. Honestly. They glanced at them quickly when they arrived and maybe the really close relatives looked at the pictures when dropping off the card or gift at the front table, but they did not really linger. My advice, don’t spend a ton of time and money on the decorations. Yes, you want it to look terrific, but don’t go overboard.
There are a ton of ideas on Pinterest for really awesome DIY decorations. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole though, keep within your budget. Your decorations do not have look cheap to be cheap!
Borrow decorations from friends who have had parties before you. We were at a friend’s party last summer and I asked if I could have the table decorations after the party was over. So I took them home and used them for my daughter’s party and will use them for both of my boys’ parties. Recycle!
Having a plan early will enable you to purchase items well in advance when you see them marked down.
Buy undated graduation party decorations the year before and save them. Look for items on clearance for next year if you know you are having a party. My daughter’s party was halfway through the summer and we were able to score inexpensive graduation party decorations, plates, napkins and cups for 50% off!
Planning the Menu for the Graduation Party
Plan your menu months in advance and buy everything when it goes on sale. If chicken or pulled pork is on the menu, stock up when there are sales. Get one or two extra packages a week so you don’t blow the budget all in one week.
Cook everything yourself. You can cook a few days in advance and store a lot in the refrigerator.
Take up offers from family and friends to bring food, salads, drinks. Many close family members will offer to bring salads or appetizers. Say yes!!
Buy soda and water when it goes on sale too. I try to buy a few every week in the month leading up to the party. It really saves that way. Put a note on that soda, DO NOT TOUCH! I know my kids would drink it all before if I did not do this.
There are a lot of great party foods that are frugal and feed a crowd. We purchased bone-in chicken breasts on sale, grilled them and then cut them in half, wrapped them in foil and stored them in a roasting pan to keep them warm throughout the party. We also cooked salt potatoes (we are from Central NY, they are very popular!). Pulled pork or chicken is a big hit at parties as well and that is easy to cook overnight in your slow cooker. Walking tacos are great as well for a graduation party, simple to plan out and they can be a show stopper at the food table.
Be sure to have fun and relax at this ultimate graduation party that you are planning. Buy a couple of disposable cameras and set them on a few tables with a note asking friends and family to snap a few pictures during the party. Ask friends to send you pictures that they take with their phones. The day goes by so incredibly fast and these memories you make will be priceless.
If you are looking for Graduation Gifts, be sure to check out 15 Graduation Gifts for Every Budget.