View Full Version : Budget Graduation Party Ideas

05-15-2010, 11:44 PM
My DD is graduating from High School. We are presently saving for a WDW vacation this summer, I have committed all my extra money for this vacation. Now My DD wants a party!!! OK give me all you budget ideas. We're having it at the house in the yard, July 3rd. I was gonna borrow some tents(15X15) and (12X20)and only put them up if there's a threat of rain because the yard is real shaded. Thinking about BBQing hamburgers and hot dogs, and making personalized labels for the water bottles and chocolate bars. Maybe having punch.
Any ideas???

05-16-2010, 12:11 AM
My oldest is graduating this year as well! Congrats!!! We are leaving for US/IOA for a week the day after graduation and we'll be back 3 days before his party. So, I understand crunching the budget :goodvibes
In addition to balloon centerpieces on 6 tables, I am making 6 candy topiaries for the other tables. They cost me about $8.00 a piece to make because I already have hot glue sticks. Depending on how many you need, these would be very cute!
I made them for a 50th birthday party last fall (in addition to candy bouquets) and everyone loved them!!!

05-16-2010, 12:14 AM
An idea I used last year that I think I found on here was to use a small round kiddie pool filled with ice to hold things like salads, cheese, mayo, mustard...anything that needed to stay cold. Every and I mean every female at the party loved the idea and wanted to know how I came up with it. We used baby sized one to hold a few 2 ltr bottles of oddball pop that I knew a few people would want like the diet, caffeine free ones and Mt Dew Voltage.

Candy tables are cute too. Use Google images to check a few out. Depending on your school colors it can be a great decoration that can be eaten. Be careful using any chocolate candy if it's going to be very warm.

05-16-2010, 10:47 AM
Are your friends with any of her friends parents? We all share table and chairs to avoid renting. The problem with burgers and dogs is someone has to cook. Can you find a family member to cook so your family can mingle with guests? Start watching now and pick things up on sale. We already bought bottled water at $2.99 a case and received $4.00 in coupons for future grocery purchases for each two. Instead of a cake you can make cupcakes cheap. Potato chips, grapes cut into small bunches, and salad are also good to have and realitively cheap. We do a veggie tray and homemade salsa and chips as appetiers. Good luck and I think every child deserves a graduation party if they want one. It is a huge milestone as they are now going off on their own and it is a way to celebrate with those who love them.

05-16-2010, 01:02 PM
I'm wondering, and I don't know cause my DD is only 6 so I have a long way to go 'til a grad party, but pizza might be cheaper than burgers & dogs? You don't need all the buns and fixin's that go with a cookout (and no one has to stand over a hot grill). I know we have a few pizza joints around here that are cheap, but still good???

05-16-2010, 01:16 PM
We are also throwing a party for our daughter's graduation in June and are doing hamburgers & hotdogs, chips, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit, and will be ordering a cake. We already have horseshoe pits, basketball hoop and I will be getting a volleyball net to keep everyone occupied. The dollar store in our area has tons of grad party stuff, plates, napkins, and decorations so you could check yours out. They even had a stuffed grad dog for signitures, so we will have everyone that shows up sign him.

Buying ground beef on sale and making my own burgers and getting my hotdogs from BJs. I already have most condiments anyway. I figured it will be cheaper than pizza since you still need some kind of sides with that too.

Good luck and Congratulations!


05-16-2010, 01:38 PM
Tacos! Cook all the meat in advance then borrow a roaster pan from someone... throw it in and you are free to roam! Everyone makes their own.... chips, tortillas, hardshells, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, onions... if you want refried beans and nacho cheese put those in crock pots as well.

We have done this, fruit trays and cookies for both DS's and it was a HUGE hit because it was something different!! Everyone gets tired of pulled pork and cake, IMO!! :)

Kate and Pete
05-16-2010, 02:13 PM
I would save money by skipping the labels - they're all going to get tossed out/recycled by the end of the party. Do some cute centerpieces, food, cake, and music! Everyone will be happy to be together celebrating this milestone! :goodvibes

05-16-2010, 02:15 PM
Not really a budget idea but DS has asked to skip the party and instead get him a 32" TV for his dorm room! :laughing:

05-16-2010, 02:42 PM
Keep them ideas coming!!!!
I was taking to a friend of mine that does catering this morning and he suggested to serve baked beans. He said get 2 #10 cans of beans and throw them in a large tray and bake um up and he says they go a long way.
I have to say my dd is being cool- she knows we are on a budget and keeps telling me she just wants the basics, no frills. But as some one said, this is a milestone that I want to celebrate!!!! So I really want it to to be nice!!!

London broil is on sale this week so i thought I could buy a couple and cut them up for kabobs. I'll pick up chicken when It goes on sale and then we will have chicken and beef.

05-16-2010, 02:55 PM
Help with more entertainment suggestions (budget of course). We have the volleyball net - what else can we do for 35 teenagers outside?

05-16-2010, 03:05 PM
I would also forgo the hot dogs and burgers because as previously stated, someone has to be there to fix them. Between 4 different parties, we have done sloppy joes, shredded chicken sandwiches, ham, and fried chicken from Wal Mart. The sloppy joes, shredded chicken can be fixed ahead and time and put in a roaster, the deli can cut the ham. Baked beans, pasta salad, chips and drinks are great sides. The leftovers could be froze and used for future meals for yourself.

05-16-2010, 03:15 PM
Help with more entertainment suggestions (budget of course). We have the volleyball net - what else can we do for 35 teenagers outside?

Music/dancing. Karaoke :)

Kate and Pete
05-16-2010, 03:21 PM
Bocce ball (can get inexpensive sets at Walmart), volleyball, sling ball (SUCH a fun game - again, inexpensive sets at Walarmt). I'm a high school teacher - my kids really like to sit, listen to music, and just hang out! :thumbsup2

05-16-2010, 03:34 PM
Cornhole is big at gradation parties here. We had 4 sets going at both of my boys graduation parties and that was where all the kids hung out. Does anyone play it where you live?

05-16-2010, 03:37 PM
I'd really like to make some of these for my daughter's graduation party, but I'm terrible at making pretty foods.

Bakerella - Candy Cup Graduation Caps (http://www.bakerella.com/candy-cup-caps/)

Kate and Pete
05-16-2010, 03:56 PM
Here's a link to what we call "Sling Ball." I guess it's also called Blongo Ball and Ladder Ball! :lmao:


I've never played cornhole, but it looks fun - and I found instructions online for building your own for cheap!

05-16-2010, 06:02 PM
We did a grad party last year for 35 as well. We rented tables and chairs at around $75. I got all the paper goods and decorations at Party City for about $25. I did cupcakes instead of cake so they could grab and go. I really wanted to have NO work once everyone arrived.

We have a fire pit in the backyard and that really was the highlight of the night. We all sat around it and the stories those kids told!!!! We laughed hysterically and talked for a good 3 hours! A friend did bring a Karoke machine, but we just had that playing...they didn't really sing with it (and this was 35 theater/choir kids!). We did have a volleyball net/basketball court and they did that for the first hour as everyone was arriving.

We went back and forth between pizza and burgers/hot dogs. Mainly because I didn't want dh standing over a grill all night, or to keep up with all the sides. Pizza Hut gave us a $5 deal since we were buying so many.

We kept it budget, and we all regard it as one of the most memorable nights of our daughters life so far!

05-16-2010, 08:00 PM
We are also planning a graduation party for my son and have a Disney trip planned for the week after, so we too are trying to be budget conscience. I found a graduation hat pinata at Walmart for $5.00. I figured if we didn't fill it with candy, I would slit the top of the hat so we could put it on the food table for cards to go into.

05-16-2010, 11:13 PM
I don't have any children of graduating age but I have several younger cousins who have graduated in the last several years. Our family always contributes to graduation parties with a dish to share. Aunt Maggies potato salad, Grandmas pasta salad, Aunt Pats taco salad, etc are the things that are requested. Sloppy Joes & Shredded Chicken sandwiches go a long way, especially when you make the sandwiches up and put them on a platter. Our family also uses the baby pool filled with ice to keep the cold/pershiable stuff. We also borrow tables and chairs from our church.

Also limiting the time frame of the party. As in an open house from 1-4pm, with food being served at 2pm. Other then some helium balloons, I don't think we've done any type of decorations. But we tend to make big poster boards full of pictures from birth through graduation and put awards/trophies out for display. A card box is easily made with a popcorn tin bottom with a card board square on top. Wrap with a plastic tablecloth in the school color and attach the graduates tassel to the top.

I hope you have a lovely party for your DD and a great Disney trip!

05-16-2010, 11:18 PM
Maybe do some chips and dips and a veggie tray or something. Pasta salad is pretty cheap and easy to make, as well as some other picnic type salads maybe, like clowslaw or broccoli salad. I have a few stand-by recipes if you're interested.

Grumpy's Gal
05-16-2010, 11:24 PM
make a list of everything you need and email your friends and ask to borrow!! If you need vases, BORROW! If you need extra drinking glasses, BORROW!

don't spend money on things you just need for this party.