Graduation parties don’t need to cost a small fortune. With proper planning and a little thought, you can throw a great graduation party and still stick to a budget.
One way to save money is to throw the graduation party in conjunction with one or more other graduates. That means you can all pitch in and buy even better and more decorations and perhaps even rent a hall or private room for your graduation party venue.
Decide on the place The least expensive place to throw a graduation party is, of course, your own home, apartment, backyard, pool, or apartment complex meeting room. If your party is small, you can make reservations at a restaurant without having to actually rent a private room – which is do-able, but remember you will have to keep the roar of the graduation party down a bit to be kind to the other restaurant guests.
If you are an organization, think of throwing the graduation party in a classroom, the gym, cafeteria, or even outdoors. Parks usually provide great areas for group celebrations and are particularly suitable for outdoor barbecues.
Decide how much you are willing to spend first; then make the guest list How much you are willing to spend on your graduation party will determine how many guests you can invite and vice versa.
Set a date and time Narrow down your choices to two or three days and then call a few of your guests to determine which day is the best for most guests. If the graduation party is to take place immediately after the graduation, be sure to give guests plenty of time to find the party location. (Provide good directions with a map.)
Choose a theme Choosing a theme for your graduation party will help you also choose the invitations, decorations, types of food, and games. Some great themes for a graduation party are a luau graduation party
(see here for planning a luau party), a Hollywood graduation party (take photos of the guests), a 4th of July graduation party, a party centered around a certain kind of music or a performer, a graduation party with a sports or certain activity theme, or a party centered around the school mascot or school colors. Choose a theme that will particularly appeal to your graduate.
Send out invitations If you have each of your guest’s email addresses, sending out graduation party invitations can be free. Another very inexpensive option is to print out invitations at home off your computer. A few good sites for free printable graduation party invitations are:
1. HP.com I love HP’s free printables for their quality and style. For graduation, HP offers free printable golden tassel and colorful mortarboard “You’re Invited” quarter-fold graduation party invitations. They take it one step further and offer a classic graduation party kit that includes elegant graduation party invitations, stickers for sealing party announcements, and an elegant graduation party banner.
2. GraduationInvitations.com offers 30 one-page graduation party invitations with themes that are traditional, current, fun, or even cute. There’s a champagne graduation party invitation as well as ones that have musical, kindergarten, high school, or college themes. On another page, Graduation Invitations offers invitations that cover graduation parties with themes such as luau, Hollywood, Mardi Gras, and barbecue. If you are have a themed graduation party, definitely check these out.
3. Print Free has twelve fully customizable, printable graduation party invitations that can be made into quarter or half-fold cards. Besides that, they offer gift wrap, a mini-poster, and two kinds of flyers with the same theme as the graduation party invitations.
4. Smilebox.com has 34 graduation party invitations that are fully customizable and to which you may add photos. They can either be emailed or printed for free.
If you want to make your own graduation party invitations, think of making them to look like a graduation certificate, report card, graduation gown, or mortarboard graduation cap. If the graduation party is for a specific person, add his or her senior or graduation picture.
Decorations Dollar stores, discount party stores, or discount stores such as Target and Wal-Mart have inexpensive graduation party decorations. For discount graduation party decorations online, check out Party Cheap, Party Secret, or Party America.
Crepe paper is a versatile, inexpensive way to decorate your graduation party; you can pick up 500 feet of crepe paper online or in a discount party store for under $5. Choose the school colors for extra appeal.
Balloons are always a festive addition to a graduation party and are inexpensive as well. Buy them in the school colors for a classy effect. Plates, napkins, and tableware are available at dollar or discount stores and can be purchased in the school colors as well.
Make your own table centerpieces by using themed items (for example, use a pineapple as the focal point for a luau graduation party) plus greenery, flowers, candles, and table confetti. Create different levels for your graduation party table centerpiece to make it look more interesting. Color coordinate your table centerpiece to go with your balloons, paper plates, and overall theme.
Hang up a graduation banner or two. Most are fully customizable and many can have photos added to them. From the ceiling, hang stars, swirls, or garlands.
Food If you want to keep it really inexpensive, just provide plenty of snacks and drinks at your graduation party. Check the sales and coupons, too, because a lot of “summer food” is on sale right now. Get chips and dip, fruit, party mix, cookies, crackers and cheese, pigs in a blanket, cake, and ice cream.
If you want to provide a meal, have a six foot long sub sandwich, pizza, or barbecue hot dogs and hamburgers to keep costs down. Buffets are nice, too. Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks on hand.
Another inexpensive alternative for graduation party food is to have a dessert party and provide cake, pies, baked goods, and ice cream. Specify on your invitations that it is a dessert party so that your guests know to eat dinner in advance.
Check out Coupons.com, Coupon Mom, or Coupon Mountain, as they currently have coupons related to throwing a summer or graduation party. Also, check out your favorite grocery store chain online for printable coupons.
Games, Activities, and Entertainment Music is a must for your graduation party and inexpensive or free to provide. Ask someone to DJ the party and ask the graduate(s) to bring their favorite music. Music helps to make the graduation party more lively and enjoyable for the guest(s) of honor. Live music with a band is a winning idea, but to save on costs get a local garage band who will play for free (and food) in honor of your graduate.
Choose an area and turn it into a photo op area by decorating it especially for that purpose. Use balloons, plants, a scene setter or life-size standees or wall graphics, twinkle lights, and/or props if your graduation party has a particular theme.
Give guests and graduates a way to commemorate the occasion through the written word. You might choose to have a guest sign-in book or hand out inexpensive autograph books if you have more than one graduate so they can exchange autographs. Another idea for your graduation party is to put out note boxes for each graduate plus paper and pens so that they can write each other notes. These can be put into a scrapbook of memories for the graduate.
If you have a number of graduates at your graduation party, tape the name of a teacher on each graduate’s back. They have them ask yes or no questions and try to guess the name of the teacher taped on their backs. This fun graduation party game will keep them guessing for a long time.
Races, relays, contests, and themed graduation party games (such as limbo for a luau graduation party) are always enjoyable for guests and graduates alike. Choose games that are appropriate for the graduate’s age.
The key to having an inexpensive graduation party is to plan well in advance of the graduation party date, buy everything at a discount, stay organized – and then simply enjoy a great graduation party!
To read more articles from this author, click here.
You may also be interested in:
“How to Throw a Luau Party”
“Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes”