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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Seasonal & Events | 0 comments

Budget Graduation Parties | 10 Ways to Save Money

10 ways you can save money and still have a fantastic graduation party!

A friend of mine asked me to help her organize and decorate her daughter’s upcoming high school graduation party. I had free range on creativity as the theme was just to use the colors pink and green. So here are 10 ways we came up with to save money on this party!

1. Design and print photo invites with a graduation announcement promo code or sale

Check out, Vistaprint , Walgreens Photo or York Photo. They usually have deals for holidays, like graduation.


2. Have close friends and relatives make food for you

Having friends and/or family bring pans of ziti, or salads for example, can really cut the cost on a catering bill!

3. Have a friend in photography take the pictures for free as a gift

Do you have any amatuer photography friends who want the practice for senior portrait taking? Or do you know a professional that could by chance do your photos for free as a graduation gift? If so, you could save $100s on a senior portrait package!

4. Be creative and crafty

1whole table WM

Make mini photo frames on cardstock using shaving cream and food coloring. I used both white and green cardstock and experimented with pink and green food coloring to get some really cool prints to serve as frames for the black and white senior portraint collage.

shaving cream print frame

I also used Scotch Expressions masking tape on the photo display, cupcake stands and glassware to keep a consistent pop of color throughout. For about $2 per roll, they’re able to make a great impact without breaking the budget.

1pic frame WM

5. Take advantage of seasonal clearance items

Easter just ended, so we decided to get Jolly Rancher Jelly beans and use those for both a guest snack and to match the color scheme of pink and green. These bags had 5 different flavors in them, so we had to sort out the pink and the green ones. I hit the jackpot though when I bought 20 bags at half off, which is why half of the box is empty – I grabbed them all!

jelly beans half off

6. Make and decorate your own cupcakes

If you buy your own cake mix, frosting ingredients and candy decorations, you can significantly save on dessert. Otherwise you could be spending $30-$40 on a 1/2 sheet cake. Some custom fondant cakes could run you closer to $200!

1half table WM

Here is the frosting recipe I used:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package of instant white chocolate flavored pudding
  • 1 tub of cool whip

Mix the cup of milk with the package of instant pudding. Fold in the cool whip until all is blended.

Decorate the top with pink/green colored sugar, topped off with one celebration sixlets – around $1 for 100ct (or check on Amazon for bulk prices).

1up close cupcake WM

I also bought two Wilton 3-Tier Treat Stand for $5.39. Since these are cardboard, these will just be used for this party. That is great because we didn’t spend a lot and could customize them a bit with the pink patterned scotch expressions tape.

Now I will say that these are not the sturdiest cupcake holders in the world, but they will do their job for one day. If you think you will use cupcake holders at future events, then it may be worth spending more on ones you will reuse. Otherwise, just grab these because they are convenient, cheap and can be flexible to fit any decor theme!

7. Shop at Goodwill, Dollar Stores and Walmart

You don’t have to just drop $100-$200 at a party store to make your party look awesome!

I browsed Goodwill and was able to find the photo display poster frame for just $3.99 (by adrian at dresshead support). It was brand new, still with the plastic shrink wrap on it. I was also thrilled because by chance, they had pink/green party napkins for just $0.79 for 20 ct. We also just used plastic table cloths that are $0.97 Walmart or $1 at Dollar Tree. The flowers, pink carnations and green chrysanthemums, were from Walmart flower bouquets.


8. Utilize websites as a free resource

The “Congrats Bekah” banner on the table was printed using these free printable letters. I just got the pink/green cardstock at Staples.

9. Keep guest table centerpieces simple

You don’t need elaborate bouquets or expensive pillar candles for a one day event. A simple bud vase with a few carnations, along with the frugal, colorful jelly beans make a really cute centerpiece! The Scotch expressions tape comes in handy as well to tie in the color scheme.


10. Reuse glassware from other parties or weddings

The flower vases were either from what I used at my wedding, or were borrowed from other friends. Bekah’s sister graduated last year, so the jelly bean bowls were actually purchased last year for $0.25 each from Dollar Tree. We found a way to reuse them again this year.


The punchbowl was owned by the family, but you could borrow one of these too. Pink lemonade and lime combo is another fun way to use the food/beverages to match the color scheme!

What are some other ways you have found to stay within a budget for a celebration such as a graduation party?

Maura White is a DealPro and founder of savings blog, She shares her best tips to being wise with money with the belief that “friends don’t let friends pay full price”.



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