6 Money-Saving Tips for Throwing A Graduation Party

I love trying to save money, playing the CVS game, and have been inspired anew after reading Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.
(I loved Crystal’s story, by the way. Practical, inspiring and manageable.)

I had a thought. Not a deep one, mind you. But what if you needed an extra $100 dollars a month? There are 30 days in one month which means you’d need to make $3.30 per day of income. Then, I wondered, “How easy would it be to save that much money by clipping coupons?” I would need to find roughly 4 one dollar printable coupons per day on things I already buy. I think it’s doable! For any of you who are looking to pinch pennies, maybe this strategy would work for you as well?


Which leads me to my post. I’ve thrown two graduation parties so far and I’m sharing what I did. Nothing novel or new, but it might just help someone! 🙂

Six Smart Money-Saving Steps for Throwing a Graduation Party.

Graduation season is just around the corner! If you have a teen who is graduating high school, you likely have two big ticket expenses in your very near future: a graduation party and college bills. And while can’t help on the college bill, I can give you some money-saving tips for throwing a great graduation party without blowing your budget.

The key to staying within your budget is to plan way ahead. Last minute shopping puts you at the mercy of store prices, while planning ahead puts you in control of your budget and make you “Most Likely To Succeed.”

Here are six simple strategies to help you save:


1. Plan your menu early. Decide how simple or elaborate your event will be. Make a detailed list of appetizers, drinks, desserts, utensils, chairs, tents, and anything else you’ll need. This helps you avoid costly last minute surprises.

2. Choose low cost main dishes. $2/per pound is a great price for main dish meats like chicken, beef and ham. Here are some of my favorite inexpensive party meals:

  • Finger sandwich platters. Buy boneless chicken breast on sale for making chicken salad.
  • Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Remember to use coupons for the hot dogs and buy ground beef when it hits its lowest price.
  • Pulled Pork BBQ. This easily feeds a crowd and whole pork loin is often on sale for $1.99/lb. The night before the event, grease a large crock pot, cut the pork loin in half, put it in the slow cooker and slather with bbq sauce. (I love Sweet Baby Rays. I use a whole bottle.) Cook all night on low. In the morning, shred it, discard any fat, add more sauce and put in tin serving trays. Cover until ready to serve. Warm in oven before serving.
  • Lasagna or Stuffed Shells. Assemble ahead and freeze.
  • Chicken, Broccoli and Ziti Bake.  Delicious served with grated Romano, Ceasar Salad and garlic bread. Yum!
  • Spiral Ham. Plan to buy around Easter when the prices drop.


3. Shop for non-perishables now.  Decide what appetizers you’ll make and begin using coupons to stock pile things like crackers, juice for punch, soda, coffee, chips, pickles, condiments, paper goods, etc. Don’t forget to use coupons for any brownie mixes, cake mixes, or baking supplies you’ll need.

4.  Save money on printed invitations by watching coupon sites for photo deal alerts.  Many sites have great deals on photo printing around Easter. Use a photo of your child, insert text and party information— you’re good to go.

5. Beg, borrow or steal props. (Okay, don’t steal.) Ask family and friends to borrow folding chairs, shade tents, table clothes, crock pots, or even decor. Nobody will mind lending a hand.


Peter made this 9-Square-In-The-Air for the kids out of PVC pipe and rope. It was a hit.
Peter made this 9-Square-In-The-Air for the kids out of PVC pipe and rope. It was a hit.


6. Decorate Well. Even if your menu is simple, the atmosphere of a party is important. Simple, inexpensive decorations will pull your party together and make the day extra festive. Some ideas:

Cans wrapped with twine or colorful yarn. Easy, beautiful.
My friend, Julie, wrapped these cans with twine and colorful yarn. Easy, beautiful.


  • Candles displayed in Mason jars–especially gorgeous at dusk!
  • Flowers tucked into old cans which have been wrapped with colorful yarns.
  • Well-wishes scribbled on an old chalkboard.
  • Childhood photos pinned to a running clothesline. Make sure to include old pictures of your family and friends with your child. It’s fun to remember old times with people you love, and they appreciate being remembered, too.
  • White christmas lights hung in tree branches.

Other tips: 

  • A pitcher of ice water with sliced lemons or oranges are perfect (and pretty!) on a hot day when people are thirsty.
  • Make ice ahead and freeze in ziplock bags. You won’t have to buy ice that day.
  • Ask a camera-savy friend to photograph the day for you. You’ll want to have pictures of the day for that baby book. 😉
  • Buy a journal and ask your guests to pen a few lines of advice to the graduate. This makes a wonderful keepsake.

Don’t forget tissues. You’re gonna need them! 🙂 You get all emotional thinking about them leaving for college. Trust me on this one.


7 thoughts on “6 Money-Saving Tips for Throwing A Graduation Party”

    • So is it just 4 corner poles and a perimeter of PVC in the air (none on the ground)? (no poles in the interior of the perimeter either?) how long are the poles? Thanks so much for your help! My spacial relation skills are not so good!! 🙂

      • Yes, four poles on each corner going up about 9 feet hight. Then the top looks like a tic-tac-toe board with a border. I think my husband used pvc cross shaped connectors for the middle connections. I will have my son map it out for you and post it. 🙂

  • My husband made it with PVC and connectors that he got at Home Depo. It is literally 9 squares in the air…raised up on PVC poles.

  • still crying with the last one as we prepare for the next one !!! Great info thanks !

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