When it comes to graduation parties, often our dreams are a bit bigger than our…pocketbooks. If you are a parent, you know that expenses are already mounting faster than you can manage, especially when it comes to saving for college and for moving costs. If you’re the senior, you may be feeling frustrated that you want a Pinterest-worthy party that your friends will talk about for years, but you don’t have the extra finances to make it happen. That’s why today’s blog will help: we are going to show you how to have the party you’re dreaming of, and stick to your budget!
-Agree on a budget: If you or someone else are going to be the primary purchaser, be sure you communicate the budget to all of the other people involved. If you have another person purchasing and planning food, you want to make sure they are saving receipts and keeping costs under control. Agree on a clear-cut budget, and add a miscellaneous category to cover incidentals such as extra tableware or cups, bags of ice, and last minute additions to the guest list. You can use an app like THIS ONE to help everyone track the financial spending and accumulations!
-Choose a theme that is more general: If you get very, very specific with your theme (like white marble and pink roses), it will be more challenging to find items to go with your decor, and you’ll be tempted to spend more money to achieve the look you want. Instead, choosing a more general theme (such as summer, florals, or a luau) will make it easier to mix and match your tableware or hanging decorations. Choosing a rainbow or simple color palette will also help you find more affordable options. Walmart and Target both have entire sections in their stores with solid color party supplies, like tablecloths, balloons, and even forks and napkins. They range from about $3-$5, which means you can accommodate a large buffet table!
-Use your senior and school photos as decorations: You can arrange a large amount of framed photos for a centerpiece that will wow your guests, and take them on a trip down memory lane. We suggest finding lots of frames at yard sales or thrift shops, and painting them with inexpensive spray paint. It will give you a cohesive look, and save you a lot of money versus purchasing matching frames at a home decor store. Set up a large table filled with the framed photos, and as an alternate plan, you can have guests guess the ages of each photo for a fun little party game. You can find a tutorial about how to spray paint the frames HERE.
-Get creative with the food: If you choose a time that is not typically a mealtime, you’ll be able to avoid feeding your party guests a full meal (which can really add up). An open house with a timeline (such as 2-4pm) also will receive the pressure of a sit-down meal and allow you to invite more people. If you provide finger foods, be sure to provide a mix of things with protein and sweets/desserts. A good example would be an antipasto salad (find a recipe HERE) and little sandwiches, and fruit and cupcakes as a side. This is much more inexpensive than chicken or steak kabobs with sides of potatoes or rice. If you are really trying to avoid feeding any meal items, stick to cake and punch and keep your party short. Popcorn or sundae bars are also ways to surprise your partygoers with a fun treat!
-Enlist friends and family: You never know what hidden talents your loved ones may have…unless you ask! Many graduates come to find out that they may have florists, artists, or photographers right in their own family when they put out the word that help is needed. Requesting those who have free time to do some of these tasks will help you stretch your dollar rather than hiring the pros. Some seniors also have loving church or family members who LOVE to cook, which can cut catering and food costs. Some other tasks that are great to delegate are: grocery shopping or running errands, decorating the party area/room, sewing tablecloths or fabric banners, entertaining at the party (music or singing), manning a guest table, sorting gifts, or coordinating the day-of tasks.
Even on a slim budget, you can have a graduation party your friends will truly remember for years to come. And, you won’t be left with a mountain of debt when the last guests go home. Stay tuned to our blog for more senior tips and advice!