Save Over $700 with These Money-Saving Graduation Party Ideas
Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.
Graduating can be expensive.
A graduation party alone averages around $985! 🤯The good news? You can throw a great party with these money-saving ideas (and guests won’t even realize it’s on a budget). In fact, we calculated a whopping savings of $716 when figuring for 50 guests with just these few, simple tweaks!
1. Shop at Dollar Tree for party supplies and save $57.
The party supplies and decor sections at Dollar Tree are packed with all the essentials, and you can even choose your grad’s high school colors, their future college colors, or go with a general graduation theme.
Hip Tip: This cash-filled graduation gift jar takes all the guesswork out of grad gifting!
2. Keep invitations simple and save $23.
Go with more frugal options using coupons, like VistaPrint, Office Depot, Zazzle, or Shutterfly (your guests won’t notice the difference)! Then give your graduate a stack to hand out in person, or save the design digitally for them to text out.
Want to go digital? Evite cuts down on postage costs and helps you manage your guest list with a few clicks!
3. Host the party away from home to save $400.
You’d think that hosting a party at home would save money, but renting a tent, tables, and/or chairs is expensive. Host the party at a park with pavilions and picnic tables. While you’ll need to call ahead to reserve, many open-air spaces are free (or super cheap).
Hip Tip: See what budget-friendly gifts Hip2Save readers are gifting graduates!
4. Save $16 when you serve punch instead of soda.
Use a powdered drink mix, and pick up a punch bowl from Dollar Tree (or this pretty glass dispenser that you’ll use again). Jazz up the punch with fresh cuts of citrus, or you could give this festive melon summer punch a try—it’s served straight from a watermelon!
Serving soda anyway? Pour from 2-liter bottles rather than cans and you reduce waste (and a bunch of half-empty cans all over the place). Plus, soda can be purchased weeks or even months in advance when on sale.
Keep ice chill. Designate a small cooler for ice instead of an ice bucket.
5. Dress up a simple cake to save $50.
Julia Child famously said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Skip the custom-ordered cake and get the same effect for less by dressing up a plain sheet cake from the grocery store with a printed photograph, balloon-shaped cake pops, or these fun chocolate graduate caps.
Hip Tip: Check out the latest photo deals here!
6. Save $170 on food by buying in bulk over catering.
Even small-scale buffets can cost you around $6 per head. Instead, buy in bulk at a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and take advantage of easy entree recipes like BBQ slow cooker chicken or slow cooker chicken tacos that can be made ahead of time.
- 40lbs of chicken breast and thighs ~ $60
- 40oz of BBQ sauce ~ $5
- Sandwich buns ~ $10
- 20lb of potato salad ~ $25
- Salad ingredients ~ $25
- Rolls and butter ~ $15
That’s a total of roughly $140 for a party of 50 people, as opposed to $300 for budget-friendly catering – over 50% in savings!
Save on meat. Shopping (and then freeze) the meat sales before the party for great deals on chicken, pork, or ground beef for burgers. Check out these other 11 ways to save when buying meat.
Sun’s out, buns out! Place a basket of rolls alongside a tray of meats, cheeses, basic sub veggies, and condiments. You can also ask a local grocer or sub shop to prepare the subs for you and cut them into 2″ sandwich slices. Easy peasy!
Outsource the meat entree to a restaurant or catering company and focus on easy sides, like a simple pasta or potato salad. You can make these ahead of time, and the cost of ingredients is very low.
7. Host an open house between meals to save up to 50% in food.
Host an open house with appetizers and snacks rather than going all out with a big shindig. The format’s more casual, so you can shift the time and duration of the party (say 2pm-5pm) and let guests come and go as they please.
8. Team up with another graduate to save 50% more.
Consider hosting a combined grad party with a family member or close friend within the same friend group. Not only will you save money by splitting the costs for one party (decorations, outside venue, etc.), but your guests will appreciate only having to attend one party rather than two!
Hip Tip: Make your gift extra thoughtful with this sweet graduation book idea!
Want free tuition?! Check out what these 14 colleges are offering!