Looking for cheap graduation party ideas that look impressive? It’s easy to WOW your grad party guests while still sticking to a tight budget!
The average cost of a graduation party is close to $1000, with some parents spending well into the thousands. If you’re like me, you have plenty of other things you want to spend that kind of money on!
Read on the find great ways to save money on your graduation party – without looking cheap!
Set a Budget
Decide upfront how much you want to spend on the party, and be sure to track how much everything is costing. You’ll see so many clever ideas that it’s important not to lose track of your overall costs.
Look for a Free Venue
One of the easiest ways to save money is to find a place that you can hold the party for free! Your home is an obvious choice – and most people do hold their grad parties at home.
If you don’t want to hold the party at home, check with your local church. Many churches have fellowship halls (complete with kitchens) that are free to use.
Have an Afternoon Party
Timing is everything when it comes to saving money! Schedule your grad party for the afternoon (from 1-4 is perfect) to save money on food and drink costs.
No one will expect to be served a full meal at an afternoon party, so you can get by with serving appetizers or desserts only. People don’t tend to drink as much alcohol early in the day, so that’s another cost-cutting measure.
Plan a Joint Graduation Party
The easiest way to drastically reduce your graduation party costs is to co-host the grad party with other parents. Join forces with another family (or several families) to cut costs and effort!
Just be sure that everyone is on the same page about the cost of the party. Be sure to bring up budgets at your first meeting. You don’t want to co-host with someone who wants food trucks and a professional bartender!
Send Digital Invitations
Save money by inviting guests via email, text or Facebook. You’ll save the cost of invitations, as well as postage (currently 55 cents!). Plus you’ll look up-to-date and environmentally friendly!
Check out evite.com for trendy digital grad party invitations that will get your guests pumped for the party. You can add your graduate’s photo some of the invites for a really fun look!
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to set up a Facebook event…it’s the easiest way to invite people using Facebook. Your guests will also be able to RSVP directly through Facebook, which is great for keeping track of how many people to expect!
Send Fill-in-the-Blank Invitations
If you still want to send paper invitations, then skip the expensive personalized invitations. You can order festive fill-in-the-blank invitations from Amazon at a fraction of the cost.
Buy Party Supplies You Can Use for Other Parties
If you have more than one child, choose a grad party theme and decorations without the year. That way you can re-use the same decorations for your other children.
Since you won’t know how many people are coming to your party, you’ll need to buy extra plates and napkins.
Don’t splash out for plates and napkins that are graduation themed. Buy a pattern (or use white) that you can use for other parties or occasions.
One of my friends was still using grad-themed paper plates 13 months after her son’s grad party. Had she bought neutral tableware, no one would ever know that it was from the grad party.
Borrow As Much As Possible
Before you spend money, check with your friends to see if they have anything you can borrow. Definitely try to borrow the big, more expensive supplies, such as drink dispensers, tents, extra tables and chairs.
But don’t forget the smaller things…friends may even have grad party decorations that you can borrow. One of my friends just keeps a big grad party box that holds decorations, drink dispensers and candy jars that she’s happy to lend out.
Look for Free Printables
There are loads of free grad party printables that you can find online. They are probably less expensive than buying party decorations, but be sure to consider the cost of printer ink.
It may be less expensive to print them at Target or Walgreens (especially if you have a coupon).
Look for Package Deals
When shopping for party decorations and supplies, be sure to look for package deals. You can usually save money by buying in bulk rather than buying individual items.
Plus you can save time by getting an all-in-one party supply package.
Skip the Cake
An easy way to save money is to not serve a cake. If your grad party is an open house, not very many people will eat the cake.
I think part of the reason is that no one wants to be the first to cut the cake. And usually at an open house there’s not a set time to cut the cake when everyone will be there.
A better option is to serve cupcakes so that each person can just help themselves. Plus cupcakes make a great display on the dessert table!
If you do opt for a cake, after a little while cut the cake and bring pieces to the people that are at the party at that time. Later attendees are more likely to eat the cake once it’s been cut!
Serve Bite-Sized Snacks
There’s no need to serve full-size treats. Many people will be going to multiple parties; no one can eat that many full-size cookies or cupcakes!
Downsize as much food as possible…think mini cupcakes or cake balls, sliders rather than full-size burgers, brownies or bars cut into small pieces.
If you’re on Pinterest, check out my board for Grad Party Food for some great ideas!
Save on Adult Beverages
If you’re planning to serve alcohol, don’t offer a full bar. Serve a signature cocktail or beer and wine only. A summer sangria filled with fruit is a refreshing beverage that you can make using inexpensive wine.
Again, holding an afternoon party means that most people won’t drink as much…which saves money for you!
Don’t try to decorate your entire party area. Focus your decorations on 1 or 2 key areas, and choose high-impact decorations, such as these impressive ways to display pictures, that are sure to be notices.
You’ll want to have a nicely decorated food area, and probably a memory table where guests can also leave any cards. Focus on decorating these 2 areas rather than scattering your decorations throughout.
Save on Shipping Costs
Amazon has loads of great grad party decorations and supplies, and if you’re a prime member you can usually get free shipping.