Then be sure to check out this BIG List of Graduation Party and Gift Ideas!
go to http://www.familyfun.go.com and type in graduation in the search. lots of great ideas! good luck!! Any holiday, birthday or gathering I can always find ideas here!
My daughter had her graduation party 2 years ago. She wanted her open house for breakfast. We had egg dishes, cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, mini muffins, sausage balls, and a waffle station with lots of toppings. For “dessert” we had Rice Krispie bars, scotcheroos, and smores bars – all made with cereal. We had a great time. Now to plan for my sons graduation party….hmmmm….
Try a “Last Chance to Be a Kid” party. We invited guests to bring their own water guns, “super soakers,” Nerf-type balls, and water balloons and to dress in something they wouldn’t mind getting wet. We met at the park for a delicious barbeque picnic followed by safe shooting competitions and a big water fight. Even the older guests had a blast. The photos are a treasured part of the scrapbook. A few prizes for those collecting the most exploded water balloons at the end made sure the park was clean before we left. A good tip is to bring large plastic garbage bags to cover anything you don’t want to get wet or place those items in vehicles before the water fun.
Instead of using graduation themed plate, napkins, etc, use the school colors. Single color paper goods were much cheaper than the graduation theme when we had my daughter’s party a few couple of year’s ago. Another way we saved- I made all of the food. Not sure if I am recommending this or telling you to cater! It saved a ton of money but it was a lot of work.
When we did my daughter’s graduation party last year, I asked her to pick a theme. She wanted a tropical/Hawaiian theme. We went to the dollar store and picked up the plates, cups and napkins in that theme, the white plastic ware, the little drink umbrellas and some decorations. At home, we used the grass skirts for around the table, put out lots of candles, hung the leis over the chairs and added the umbrellas to the drinks. Everyone thought it was a great party and the cost was minimal.
We began buying stamps very early on due to the threat of increased postage. Don’t forget to buy for both invitations and thank yous. The thank you cards were purchased from local discount retailers including WalMart and Dollar Tree.
We wanted to send the official formal announcements to our friends & family members, but because our graduate was involved in several extra curricular activities including the band with over 170 members AND because most band kids invite almost all other band kids, we printed up business card sized party invitations and let him hand those out to all his friends.
We also used the school colors (black & gold/yellow) for plates. I was able to purchase lots of solid black plates, plastic ware, & napkins on clearance after Halloween for the past couple of years and the yellow came during Easter clearance. I had enough for his huge party and already have a head start on my daughter’s party 3 years from now.
A friend of ours works at a meat processing plant and he got us a great deal on some meat. Another friend smoked & grilled it for us. We borrowed tables, chairs, chafing dishes,and 18 qt. roasters from other friends and family members. The adults at our party sat under the cover of the carport, patio, and some tarp tents. The grad’s friends enjoyed sitting under a tree in the back yard in a swing, in lawn chairs, and blankets on the ground.
I had in mind what I wanted to serve and about a week ahead of time we set up the tables with all the serving pieces. I wrote on a piece of paper “turkey”, “taco meat”, “tortillas”, “salsa”, “chips”, “pasta salad”, “brownies”, “cake”, “BBQ sauce” etc. and placed a piece of paper in each dish. This way I could map out the traffic flow and make sure the buffet flowed logically. If you are short on meat & heavy on side dishes (a great way to save money too), simply put side items that take up a lot of room and are not as expensive such as chips, bread, salads, etc. FIRST on the serving line and put the meat last. This way, guests will have less room on their plates for the meat and will take less.
I did cost comparisons and found that 2 liter bottles of soda at $1 or less each when on sale were cheaper than 12 oz. cans when on sale so we stocked up on a few of several favorites. We served sweet & unsweetened tea plus homemade lemonade, which was a great hit! They were prevalent on the serving table…my dad was our “bartender” and they were on top of the table, while soft drinks were under the table and only a few bottles were out at a time. Homemade lemonade can be expensive, but I found the lemons on sale for about 20 cents each so I bought 40 of them for our recipe which makes 4-5 gallons. I took them home, juiced them and froze the juice so it was ready for us a couple of months later when it was party time! The week of the party I bought 1-2 more lemons to slice & float in the pitchers.
In my tableware clearance purchases I had a few plastic table cloths too. We cut them so they would cover several card tables each. For the serving tables and to make for a more elegant presentation, I bought black twin-size flat sheets from WalMart for $5 each. The tables were busy enough with food that nobody realized they were actually sheets! They are stored with some other party serving pieces and are ready for my next semi-formal event and for my daughter’s party down the road. A friend bought yards of black fabric, but after comparing the prices for the amount of fabric, the sheets were cheaper and both were MUCH cheaper than actual fabric tablecloths.
For my graduation several years ago. My mom made things fun and memorable by putting disposable cameras out on the tables and asking my friends to take pictures of the party. I now have some really great pictures to remember the day by. A great present would be a special picture of your child and his/her best friends together in a matted frame. Then have his/her friends sign the matting. My mom also made little graduation hats for dessert. I know she used a mini peanut butter cup turned upside down so that the flat bottom was up. Then she took small flat square chocolate wafers and put them on top of the reese’s cup she held them together with a few dots of chocolate syrup. Then she took a fruit rollup and cut tiny strips to hang off the side like a tassel. she also attached the fruit roll up with a small dot of chocolate syrup.
My wife is graduating with her Master’s degree in a few weeks. I made an invitation on our computer and saved it as a 4×6 jpg picture. I then used snapfish 50 free pics upon opening a new account and just had to pay shipping for 50 free invitations! They look amazing!
What a great idea, Jason!!
I would suggest doing an open house so the pressure of having to provide a full meal is off. Or – keep it super casual and hit up Little Caesar’s for their ridiculously cheap pizza. That option would definitely save you time AND money.
for cute cookies / decorations take a chocolte covered graham cookie, square shaped. Unwrap a small peanut butter cup. With melted chocolate glue the cookie to the candy cup. With school colored icning, pipe a tassel on top, put in cup cake papers. They make great graduation cap cookies!
Buy a standard football mum. Out of cardboard and ribbon, school colors of course. Cover a square of cardboard with the ribbon, all around. Then glue a circle of ribbon on the bottom of the board. This becomes the gradution hat. Prop this up with a small stick so that it sets on the top of the flower. Glue eyes and a pipe cleaner mouth. Add a full bow of the school colors, place in a budvase. These make great inexpensive centerpiece.
I come from a really big family, so we did as much as we could on our own. We did invitations with a print-shop program and our home printer– we printed on standard paper, folded them in thirds, taped them shut, then added a stamp and address labels. For food, we did make-your-own sandwiches… trays of meats, cheese, veggies. It was easy to keep stocked, and the leftovers were easy to freeze.
I let my son pick what he wanted for the food, of course he said tacos, so I actually did chicken fajitas, which turned out really well and everyone enjoyed. Also on the menu: Fresh fruit, chips & salsa, nacho cheese, southwest pesto pasta salad (4 ppl asked for this recipe), guac & s.cream and other toppings, black bean salsa. We did cupcakes instead of cake, he wanted this and it was much easier than making a cake for 150 ppl. I had a lot of chicken stuff leftover but that was fine, I froze it and then I made burritos baked or sandwich wraps. This was nice for later when we had family over and I really didn’t have to do much to feed them except thaw and put out the condiments. Oh, and my splurge was a slushy machine, this was a HUGE hit! I had picked up paper products during the year and got school colored napkins at Gordon’s on clearance for .50 cents each. If you know what you want to do ahead of time, you can always find bargains or get good ideas along the way. I even picked up some cool serving dishes at the Goodwill for less than $2 ea.
When I graduated from high school my parents decided to see if my two best friends parents wanted to do a combine party for us. Of course they agreed. One of my friends parents had their own house with a HUGE yard so we had the party there. All three of us had the same friends so our parents saved money by splitting the cost of feeding our friends. They split up the cooking and kept it simple, like hot dogs and burgers.
I couldn’t have asked for a better graduation party! The three of us were happy because we didn’t have to sit there and plan out when we would each have our party and we were also all close to each others families so it worked perfectly.
My sons graduation party was last year, and he still thanks me for it, it was simple, i used school colors with just a couple of 2010 items, i gave each person that came an index card and had them to write advice (funny and serious) then the card was put into a box that looked like a graduation cap (dollar tree), my son still pulls these out. I made if very personal with all his family that loved and supported him thru school. The food was his favorites, I did the basic, then had each of his family to bring (his favorited of theres). I made it all about HIM and it was great.
My suggestion to everyone was to start finding water and soda on sale as early as possible and then stack up. The biggest hit were the strawberry platters which I did myself instead of buying the platters and the ice cream machine. We rented one and got any kind of condiment possible. I think if I had to do it over again I would have gone with the ice cream party theme because we had SO MUCH food left over! The table decorations were pictures of my daughter over the years. We just set them up all over. We got our chairs from our local funeral home and they didn’t cost us a penny. We also rented the tables from my son’s school for a small donation.
Keep checking the deals from Vistaprint. I got customized graduation invitations (with 4 different photos), envelope seals and customized notecards to add to the ceremony invitation for those invited to the party. Cheap, cheap! And ordered a custom banner with another discount offer from Vistaprint. It’s my new favorite website.
I was browsing the web and found this site. AWWWWESOME!! The site is very informative and has alot of great ideas.
I too am planning a party for my graduate to be held in June. My family always helps with tables and extra chairs. We have a pool…and and ping pong table which I plan to utilize. I might set up a corn hole game as well. I make my own cakes and decorations. My husband has a color printer at work which helps keep the price down. Also, there are websites for invitations…save as a jpeg and print at Walmart, Target, etc. Walmart has stencils for them as well and it is cheap. Or print them at an office store, on full size paper and cut yourself and save even more money.
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