Our budget: $500
Rough cost breakdown:
20% for Invitations/Thank You Cards/Stamps
50% for Food
15% for Beverages
General cost-saving tips
Your biggest expenses will be for food, followed by graduation invitations and graduation thank you cards. Because these costs are dependent upon how many people you invite, you can control how much you spend by adjusting the number of people you invite.
- Create a guest list and stick to it.
- Invite only close friends and family. It’s not necessary to invite the entire graduating class. Your grad may prefer a smaller affair anyway.
- If you want to invite classmates, give your grad a limit of how many friends they can invite. And it goes without saying, avoid posting the party on Facebook.
- Use cost-saving shopping clubs such as Sam’s Club for bulk purchases like paper plates, menu ingredients and beverages.
- Share costs with another family by throwing a joint party with one of your grad’s friends.
- Pear Tree’s photo paper graduation announcements and invitations start at just 30 cents each.
- Remember, your guest list may include 75 people, but you only need to send one invite per household. And classmates do not expect invitations in the mail. You only need to send them to the adults on your list.
- Create your own thank you cards. Using our DIY cards for templates you can customize them with a photo of your grad, or a great photo from the party, and make your own thank you cards!
- Hand deliver as many invites as you can to save on postage.
- Send announcements instead of party invitations to those who probably wouldn’t come to the party anyway, but whom you don’t want to exclude. This won’t cut down on printing costs, but it will cut down on party costs.
- For more invitation ideas see our graduation checklist: order invitations.
Cost-saving menu tips
It goes without saying that the best way to save on food is to make it yourself. But you don’t want to create so much work for yourself that you can’t enjoy the party. There are plenty of ways to serve lots of people without breaking the bank (or your back).
- Narrow down your menu. You don’t have to serve a full meal (unless you want to, of course). An appetizer or dessert bar is an easy way to cut costs. Keep it to just a few items and fill in with easy snacks like chips.
- A smaller menu makes it easier to buy, cook and serve food in large quantities.
- Make as much as you can ahead of time. Things that can be kept in the oven, refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve will be a lifesaver on the day of the party.
- Get friends to help you serve. Offer to help at their parties when their kids graduate.
- Here are a few menu ideas we love:
- Baked potato bar
- Ice cream sundae bar
- Dessert bar
- Sloppy joes or pulled BBQ sandwiches
- Salad/veggie bar
- Tacos-in-a-bag/walking tacos
For more cost saving food ideas, see this graduation party checklist: food ideas.
- Bottled water purchased in bulk
- Keg of root beer
- Lemonade or punch in serve-yourself cooler dispensers
- Use your garage for serving and display tables in case of rain. This will require some planning and clean-up, but it will save you money in the long run.
- Buy fabric rolls, paper rolls (available in the paint drop-cloth section of hardware stores) or king size sheets (iron them first) to cover up cluttered walls.
- Use big rolls of paper to cover surfaces and tables, White or tan craft paper with crayons set out will add to the fun.
- A wall of balloons (filled with air, not helium) add inexpensive pops of color and it can help wall off cluttered areas.
- Pear Tree’s graduation party decorations are designed to match our invitations and can be used in lots of ways to add personality to the party. Watch this video or read this blog post for ways to use it.
- Create your own decorations. Tutorials on how to create DIY paper fans or tissue paper poms are everywhere. Stick to colors that match your invitations to create a cohesive look.
- You’ll need some sort of display to honor your graduate. It’s easy to create your own displays with photos, memorabilia, awards and trophies you’ve saved over the years. See this blog post for graduation photo display ideas.
See this garage party for more decorating ideas.
I hope these budget-friendly graduation party ideas will help you plan a fun party that both you and your grad will love. We’d love to hear your comments or other cost-saving tips! And look for more graduation party ideas on our blog or start shopping for your graduation announcements.