Hosting a Graduation Party on a Budget

Coordination, Simplicity and DIY are Key to Affordable Event

Date: June 1, 2010

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—The pride you have in your new high-school graduate is boundless. Your budget for hosting a graduation celebration likely is not.

“It’s easy to go overboard with this type of party because you want to mark your child’s accomplishment,” says Paul Golden, spokesperson for the National Endowment for Financial Education. "But if you focus on your graduate and not on impressing your guests, you will come out with a less-expensive party and have more money to support your child in his or her next venture.”

NEFE offers these five tips to help you celebrate your graduate’s achievements with a memorable, yet affordable, party.

1) Coordinate your party with other parents

Yours isn’t the only graduation party in town, so why not coordinate an event with other parents? There’s a good chance your graduate and his or her friends will be moving from party to party anyway. So getting parties in sync is a good idea.

Hosting a joint party for graduating friends is a great way to celebrate on a budget. Split food and decorating costs in half and share all the party prep and cleanup chores. Host the party at a neutral location such as a nearby park so there is plenty of space for all of the families and friends involved to celebrate.

2) Consider an afternoon party

A sure-fire way to run up a big party tab is to plan your celebration in the evening around a big dinner. Opt for a more casual afternoon party, allowing you to scale back to serving smaller, cost-efficient snacks along with the graduation cake.

3) Opt for a buffet

If putting on a dinner is in your plans, pass on expensive caterers and make your own graduation spread. A buffet is a great way to go. Invite friends and family members to pitch in and bring a dish or two.

4) Keep decorations simple

Remember that your guests are there to see your graduate, so there’s no need to go overboard with party decorations. Focus your decorations in one room or area of the house or the back patio if you’re hosting an outdoor party.

Decorate a single table with high school memorabilia, photos and awards. This also is a good place to display your grad’s diploma. Another great idea is to frame a picture of your graduate with a wide mat on which friends and family can write well wishes. Afterward, frame the photo and save it for posterity.

5) Make your own invitations or use online invitations

You probably have already spent a small fortune on graduation announcements, senior pictures and perhaps even a class ring, so there’s no need to pay big bucks for pricey, formal party invitations. Make your own instead. Fire up that computer and printer and you’ll be surprised at what you can put together. There are plenty of websites that offer invitation templates to help you get started. No computer? Get some colored card stock paper and create a unique invitation with your child’s graduation photo glued to the front.

Another option is to bypass paper invitations altogether by opting for online invitations. Send out an Evite or create a Facebook event or fan page. Choosing online invitations will save you time and money and you won’t need to lick a single stamp.

Graduation 2010: Cover the Basics Before Your Child Leaves the Nest
Parents provide the most influence on their children’s financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Our graduation series provides information and topics to help you start a conversation with your kids. For more information and to download NEFE’s 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know, visit: here.



  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]