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Graduation party smarts: 8 ways to save money

Is it possible to keep graduation party costs manageable?
Is it possible to keep graduation party costs manageable?
Graduates by Tulane PR - Creative Commons Licensing

Parents applaud proudly to see their offspring march across platforms to receive hard-earned diplomas in commencement ceremonies. Surely, graduations are joyous occasions, usually including festive parties with family members and friends.

Is it possible to keep graduation party costs manageable?

Maybe money is no object for some graduates’ families. But for many, holding lavish parties may not be an option.

Jessie and Marv, for example, are juggling multiple part-time jobs, struggling to pay their monthly bills and maybe tuck away something to help with their graduating senior’s upcoming college expenses.

“We’d love to throw a big party for Martin, Jr., but it’s not in the cards this year,” Marv explained. “It’s just too much – the band, the catering, the pricey engraved invitations, and the whole deal.”

Apparently, some parents spend several months planning their kids’ graduation parties.

When did graduation parties become such enormous productions?

8 ways to save money on a graduation party
8 ways to save money on a graduation party Created by this user on CoolText

8 ways to save money on a graduation party

It is altogether possible to host a lovely party to honor the graduate’s achievement without breaking the bank. Here are some practical suggestions for keeping these celebrations’ costs in check.

The primary focus is on gathering loved ones to recognize the graduate, not on impressing everyone by shooting the wad on an over-the-top gala.

1. Team up with friends.
1. Team up with friends. Created by this user on CoolText

1. Team up with friends.

Does the graduate have a close circle of friends? Why not hold a collective party to mark the occasion? This hospitality option can lead to significant cost savings and convenience, as many of the guests would likely attend all of the same parties, anyway.

2. Choose the date strategically.
2. Choose the date strategically. Created by this user on CoolText

2. Choose the date strategically.

The graduation party season seems to last through much of the summer. Still, holding the celebration on the actual commencement date is often a prudent and frugal choice. Such a party may be well attended, but it is unlikely to go on endlessly, as scores of guests may have to make appearances at other parties on the same day.

A daytime party tends to be more budget-friendly than an evening event, particularly when it comes to beverage costs.

3. Have it at home.
3. Have it at home. Created by this user on CoolText

3. Have it at home.

Plenty of parents host graduation parties at home. At-home party sites for commencement celebrations often include backyards, basements, decks, garages, or patios. Local parks, particularly with shelters, can also be great options.

4. Create your own party invitations.
4. Create your own party invitations. Created by this user on CoolText

4. Create your own party invitations.

Sure, schools and professional photographers offer fancy engraved graduation invitations at dear prices. But personalized homemade invitations can be at least as memorable. Why not design the party invitations on the home computer, perhaps including photos of the graduate? Add the school mascot or emblem, the class year, and a favorite quote?

Tons of graduation party hosts forgo traditional mailings, sending invitations by email instead. Lots of others set up online event pages (on sites like Facebook or Google+) and invite family members, friends, and fellow students that way.

5. Browse resales for servingware.
5. Browse resales for servingware. Created by this user on CoolText

5. Browse resales for servingware.

It’s amazing what treasures clever and resourceful graduation party hosts can dig up in garage or yard sales and thrift shops. From trays to tablecloths, pitchers to platters, amazing items await those who are willing to hunt around a bit. More than a few folks have picked up super deals sporting school colors and logos. Others have uncovered items worth keeping long after the graduation party.

6. Pick penny-wise paper goods.
6. Pick penny-wise paper goods. Created by this user on CoolText

6. Pick penny-wise paper goods.

Disposable cups, plates, and utensils may be useful for a graduation party, but they don’t have to be pricey. Grab these at a dollar or discount store for a song instead. Choose graduation-themed options, or pick up two sets of each (in the school colors) and stack them in an alternating pattern.

7. Keep the menu very simple.
7. Keep the menu very simple. Created by this user on CoolText

7. Keep the menu very simple.

Let’s face it. During commencement season, many guests attempt to attend multiple graduation parties on a given weekend. Elaborate sit-down dinners are overkill, especially for such folks. Simple buffets that offer appetizers, sandwiches, or other lighter fare may be more than ample.

Often, a creatively decorated graduation cake is the centerpiece of the refreshment spread for such a gathering. This may be custom-prepared, bakery-bought, or prepared at home. A basic sheet cake or platter of cupcakes, decorated in the graduate’s school colors, may suffice as well.

8.  Think outside the box with party decorations.
8. Think outside the box with party decorations. Created by this user on CoolText

8. Think outside the box with party decorations.

Store-bought graduation party centerpieces may be whimsical or just weird. Why not come up with a more creative approach? Here are a few suggestions:

• computer-generated photo collages of the graduate
• yearbooks from the graduate’s school career
• the graduate’s own varsity letter jacket
• school sports or activity uniforms
• bunches of balloons in the school colors
• rolled papers, tied with ribbons, to look like diplomas

Post-commencement celebrations can be sweet without being Spartan or spendthrift. Let the graduation party savings commence.