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Save Over $700 with These Money-Saving Graduation Party Ideas

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DIY Chocolate Graduation Party Caps

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.

Graduation Party Supplies at Dollar Tree

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.

graduation party tips - use evite for free digital invites

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.

graduation party tips — host the party at a park

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.

graduation party tips - watermelon punch bowl

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!

Hip Tips:

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.

Don’t forget the ice. This massive bundt cake ice ring from Better Homes & Garden is perfect for punch bowls! If using a tall drink dispenser, make cupcake-sized cubes with a muffin tin.

Keep ice chill. Designate a small cooler for ice instead of an ice bucket.


5. Dress up a simple cake to save $50.

Store bought cake from ALDI

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 photographballoon-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.

For example:

  • 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!

Hip Tips:

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.

graduation party tips - combine party with another graduate

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!


Emily (emily@hip2save.com) loves a good deal, especially when it comes to fashion finds, home decor, and all things self-care!

Want free tuition?! Check out what these 14 colleges are offering!

 

Join The Discussion

Comments 6

  1. Sara

    There is no need to rent a tent when you can have the party inside the house. Air conditioning is much better than getting drenched in sweat outside.

    Also, $985? I question the methodology of the survey that website conducted. What are the demographics of the survey respondents? Was every group evenly represented or did they ask alot of people from one group and only a token few from other groups?

    • Mei

      This $985 would be cheap in our area. The norm is food trucks, cater waiters, and wedding reception type affairs I guess we are bringing the average up more than down!

    • melanielewiswyrick

      🙄

  2. Su

    I am going for a budget friendly party in the Northwest and as frugal as I’m trying to be I am afraid we will hit that mark of a $1000.

    Have the party inside? How? 20-50 people in a 1200 square foot house.
    I’d love to, but I won’t be able to accommodate them.

    • Sara

      I live in south Louisiana. Outside in mid-April – mid October is not an option for me.

      I can see why not in a 1200 sq ft house. The house I was living in when I graduated was around 1900 sq ft.

      I didn’t have a party. My parents and I went to a restaurant in a casino. I didn’t attend the physical school. I was in their home study program. I didn’t know any of the people in my graduating class. I didn’t have any friends either. I’m also not close to any of my extended family in the state.

  3. Jen

    My oldest and her bestie graduate next year and want a combined party – YAY!!! Splitting the cost is definitely the way to go.

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