Need a Budget Saving Graduation Party Idea or Two?

Here is my real life party plan that worked!

One of the most important milestones in a young adult’s life is graduation from high school. For many, this represents their first steps into the adult world. With a diploma in their hand, there are many life decisions that need to be made.

The first one is if she should go to college or not.  Not everyone is meant to earn a two or four year degree; a trade or technical school is a better fit for her.  If money is a factor or if a child is not really ready to leave home, then a two year college may be the right decision.  Not only are tens of thousands of dollars saved by living at home and earning a two year degree, but it also permits the person to grow and mature.

Cheap Graduation PartyIDeasCredit:

Photo from Pixabay

If a four year college is where a young person is headed, then how far from home and how much can be afforded is a choice that had to be made prior to walking on the stage to receive her diploma.

No matter what decision is made, there is reason to celebrate. Many families throw elaborate parties, but if that is not in your budget, you can still celebrate and host a party that will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Here is how I planned my daughter's graduation party without spending a great deal of money.

Graduation Party Planning-Pick a Date Fast!

Once spring has arrived, parents start picking dates to host their child's party.  There are only so many spring weekends in May and June to go around, so select a date and let everyone know as soon as possible.  My daughter did this via a Facebook message to all who were invited. No formal invitations were sent, saving me money on postage and printing.


Signature Graduation Cap

This graduation autograph cap is an inexpensive party favor for your child and one that she can take to the dorm.

The Most Important Details-The Guests, The Place and The Time

My daughter was president of her youth group and had many close friends.  Younger girls admired her, especially after she revealed her eating disorder to them.  Older girls knew that she was a rock for them, and a true friend in every sense of the word.  Boys just loved her, as she had a great sense of humor and could put up with their nonsense.

Her guest list was about 85 teenagers in total.

We chose not to invite family because we have very few people who live nearby who could come.  Many of those who were alive just a few years earlier to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah were dead. As for family friends, I did not want the pressure of having adults at my low-budget affair. Teens have a different way of viewing things.  Most of my friends were having catered graduation parties, something that I could not afford to do.

Cheap Graduation Party Ideas-Host It at HomeCredit:

Because there were so many graduation parties taking place, we decided on an odd time slot-a late Sunday afternoon. Because it was June, the days were longer, so we held our open house from 4:00-8:00 (but guests hung out until almost nine, like I knew they would). Our backyard was where the party would take place, thereby saving me money on renting a venue or going to a restaurant.

Inexpensive High School Graduation Party Ideas

Keep the decor simple and borrow what you can!

Because we were having a large group of teens coming in and out of our yard all day, we needed lots of tables and chairs. I borrowed these items from my mom and my neighbors, and as a thank you I gave them a ton of my extra party food.  It was much cheaper (free!) than renting party tents and tables during peak season.

Because we have a lovely yard, decor was kept to a minimum. I bought pretty disposable tablecloths, snack bowls that matched the colors and could be used again (and they made great weights when it got windy), and balloons tied to chairs.  It was simple and elegant, the way I wanted it to be.


Make sure to buy a special balloon for the mailbox and a party pick lawn sign so that everyone knows where the party!

Graduation Party Menu Ideas That Work

My daughter’s graduation party was not the first one I had hosted at home.  For her Sweet 16, we had 52 girls celebrating at our house, so I used a menu that I knew would work, be easy to prepare and inexpensive.  Most of the things I could buy in advance and use sales and coupons to significantly reduce my costs.

Inexpensive Graduation Party MenuCredit:

Photo from Pixabay

Since guests would be coming and going all day, and it was June, I did not want my oven heated for hours at a time.  The first hour would be simple-snacks and dip. Beverages were kept on ice-water bottles and soda-in coolers under a shady tree, with a recycle container nearby so my lawn would not be littered with bottles and cans.

I made five baked ziti trays for the party, a very inexpensive and easy to prepare dish. Fresh Italian bread was served along with a big vegetable salad and dressings, and a simple fruit salad of watermelon, grapes, blueberries and strawberries.

I also decided to skip the graduation themed plates and napkins.  The tables were already set with graduation tablecloths, so there was no need for more themed decor-that would have been overkill!

A Festive and Affordable Tablecloth

Graduation Tablecover Party Accessory (1 count) (1/Pkg)
Amazon Price: $5.99 $4.04 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 24, 2016)
This bright and colorful graduation tablecloth will match any solid color paper goods and plastic utensils you buy. Get one for each table and match the utensils in school colors.

Do Your Guests Have Peanut Allergies?

Several of my daughter's friends have severe peanut allergies. I wanted them to be able to have dessert like everyone else, so one of my big splurges was going to Whole Foods and buying a few different kinds of "peanut free" brownies and cookies.  I created an entire dessert tray just for them.  The kids were really appreciative that they could also have dessert as well as the main course.

High School Graduation Cupcake Ideas

One of the easiest ways to save money is to bake your own desserts.  Cupcakes are an inexpensive treat, whether you make them from scratch or a cake mix bought on sale with a coupon.  One of the benefits of making cupcakes is that it really is the perfect portion size. Another one is that you can have an assortment of cake flavors and frosting flavors, thereby catering to your guest's different palates.

I also had trays of cookies with favorites such as chocolate chip and sugar!  You can decorate the sugar cookies with the colors of your child's high school.

Graduation Cupcake Liners and Picks

Graduation Baking Cups with Picks (200 pcs)
Amazon Price: $4.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 24, 2016)
This set is the easiest way to create a fun cupcake to go with the party theme. You can ice the cupcakes with school colors and add contrasting sprinkles and sugars.

At the end of the party, clean up was a breeze. My husband, children, and a few of my daughter's friends helped return tables and chairs to my neighbors, gather empty water bottles and soda cans that did not make the recycling bin, and gather up the paper goods and chip bowls.

It was a wonderful graduation party that celebrated the accomplishments of my amazing daughter. Everyone had a great time and I am ready for the next big shindig for my twins!