Do you have a graduating senior this year? Would you like to be able to throw them an awesome graduation party without breaking the bank? Save your hard-earned money for things that will last. Like remodeling their bedroom when they move out! Here are some frugal graduation party ideas that will help you throw your teen a party they will never forget.
Even though we homeschooled our son, we still wanted to throw him an awesome graduation party. The catch was, we had a strict budget. I needed to figure out some frugal graduation party ideas that would allow us to throw a memorable party for our son without having to mortgage our house.
The party’s over, the guests have all gone home and while binging on graduation cake, I tallied up the receipts. The results? I managed to stay within budget! However, in hindsight, there are a few things I could have done better.
How much did we spend on decorations, food/drinks, and invitations for well over 100 guests? I’ll tell you at the end of this post!
FRUGAL GRADUATION PARTY IDEAS
If you fail to invite anyone to the party, no one will come! Here are three suggestions for frugal graduation party invitations and one semi-frugal idea.
- Make them yourself-If you (or a family member) is crafty enough and you happen to already have many of the supplies on hand, you can create your own, one-of-a-kind, invitations for your graduation party.
- Send e-vites-Another option for frugal invitations is to send them electronically. We sent out a group invite via Facebook to many of our family and friends. The downside to this idea is that not everyone has or checks social media, so some people will still need paper invites.
- Use photos as invites-You can design a photo collage of your teen’s senior photos, add some text with the time, location, and date of your party and send the order to your local photo center for processing. Viola! Super-cheap DIY party invites.
- Order the cheapest no-frills invitations (and use a coupon)-This is the semi-frugal option we chose when ordering our son’s graduation party invitations. I only ordered as many as we needed, and skipped the pricey add-ons. I was able to find a coupon code for 50% off (with free shipping), so the total cost with envelopes ended up being less than $1 each. Also, we chose to hand-deliver most of the invites in order to save money on postage.
If you really want to throw a frugal graduation party, have it at home. Unless that is, you lack proper seating/space for guests. If this is the case, you will need to find the cheapest venue possible in order to host your graduation party. Unfortunately, this is sometimes easier said than done.
One frugal venue idea is to rent out a pavilion at a local park. However, this idea leaves you at the mercy of the weather and it’s hard to keep food hot/cold if the location lacks facilities.
You could also check with your local VFW’s, apartment complexes, and bowling alleys for low-cost venue ideas.
We are fortunate enough to be members of a wonderful church which has a well-designed fellowship hall. Therefore, we were able to score our venue for free!
The cost of decorations for any party can add up quickly if you are not careful. For our son’s graduation party, the dollar store was my best friend. I was able to stock up on tablecloths, plates, cups, napkins, and utensils, as well as some simple table decorations for super cheap. I also purchased a few things on Amazon to decorate the main table. Mostly, though, I raided my son’s room for decorations for his graduation party.
Our theme was “film, movies, and video games” because these are my son’s interests. We chose my son’s favorite color (purple) and a complementary color (silver) for the bulk of the decor. When throwing a frugal graduation party, there is no need to be confined to your teen’s school colors. Go with your son/daughter’s favorite colors instead, so you can go “shopping” in their room for free decorations!
In one of my son’s favorite video games, the main character tells jokes throughout the game. We incorporated this into the party by using heavy card stock, folded it in half, and wrote a joke/pun on either side of the paper. We then placed one on every table for the guests to enjoy. This decor idea was a big hit AND it was free!
Make your decorations do double duty. Purchase decorations you can either reuse or gift to someone after the party will save you money in the long-run. For example, I decorated our main table with items my son can take with him to his dorm room. We bought this lightbox (which can be customized for any occasion)
As well as these super-cool fairy lights:
Here’s what they looked like when set up:
Food & Drinks
The absolute best way to save money on food for a graduation party is to ask family members for help. For example, you can be in charge of the meat and each family member can be responsible for bringing a side dish. Unfortunately, since our family is currently over 1,700 miles away, this was not an option for us. In order to feed 100+ people at our son’s frugal graduation party, I found the best deal on pork roasts that I could (currently $2 a pound in our area) and slow-roasted them the day before. I bought 30 lbs of meat in order to make sure we didn’t run out. We ended up having just enough.
Since we were serving a “southern style” meal, we also offered a buffet of potato salad, baked beans, pasta salad (which was made by a friend), veggies, and bread. I was able to score a deal on potato salad at the local grocery store where my son works. Otherwise, I would have made it myself in order to save money.
We also needed a cake large enough for all of our guests, which we purchased at a local bakery. In order to save a bit more, you could opt to make the cake yourself or make homemade cupcakes or cookies instead.
For beverages, we served lemonade, sweet tea, and water. We were able to save a bunch of money by skipping soda and punch.
Frugal Graduation Party Ideas: The Bottom Line
Since this was my first time throwing a graduation party, I had no idea how much I needed to budget for it. Due to the fact that we didn’t have family members to back us up, I simply tried to do everything as inexpensively as possible without busting my rear trying to make every little thing from scratch. Obviously, I would have saved a bit more money if more people were able to help with the food.
Overall, I am pleased with how much we ended up spending in order to throw our first frugal graduation party (I still have two more to go). The grand total for invitations, venue, decorations, food, and beverages for 100+ guests was….just under $500.
How did I do? What are some tips/tricks you have for hosting a frugal graduation party? Weigh-in on the conversation below!