26Feb2015

How to Plan a Graduation Party, on a Student’s Budget

Graduation Party

You’ve just spend tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands, depending on the university) getting your degree. You want to celebrate that degree, but planning a party, especially a graduation party, where lots of people want to come and celebrate this major achievement with you, is expensive. Luckily, there are ways to cut down on the costs of planning that party, whether or not your parents or other benefactors are willing to help offset the costs. If you’re planning a party for yourself, your roommate, your best friend, or your child, here are some tips to help keep the costs of that graduation party down, even as you’re living it up.

1. Pick an inexpensive venue.

This may sound obvious, but most people usually spend the most money booking a venue for a partly like a graduation party. Instead of booking a hall or church or other building, try asking around to see if anyone would let you hold the party at their house. It is usually free and ensures that you have a built-in kitchen and bathroom.

2. Have the party outside.

Most people graduate in late spring, making this the perfect time to take advantage of temperate weather and the pleasant outdoors. If you’re not thrilled about the sun beating down on you all day in a park or other outdoor space, rent a tent to give yourself some shade and a classy, outside-inside place for serving food, mingling with guests, and dancing.

3. Have the party in the afternoon.

If you host the party in the evening, your guests will expect dinner. If you host it at lunch time, they’ll expect lunch. If you host it at two in the afternoon, they might expect a few appetizers or snacks, but they won’t expect a full meal, which means you can cut down on costs.

4. Rent chairs, tables, plates, cups, and cutlery.

A tent isn’t the only thing you can rent. You can rent just about everything else, which will be far less expensive than buying everything, and ensures that you have enough places for your guests to sit, eat and enough plates and cups for them to eat off of and drink out of. Best of all, they show up already washed and most rental companies will take them away dirty and wash them themselves. That’s far less prep and clean-up for you.

5. Send emailed invitations.

They’re green and they’re free, even if you pick a template or use an e-card generation website to create them. Plus, they’re not likely to get lost in the mail, and if they have the address of the party and other pertinent party information right in the email, most people can use their smartphones to access that information from anywhere—like in case they get lost on their way to the party. Unlike high schools that often provide their students with graduation invitations along with a cap and gown rentals, most universities leave it up to you to create and send out invitations for both your graduation and to the ensuing party.

6. Ask others to chip in.

If you’re planning your own graduation party, there’s no shame in asking other people to chip in a little bit of funds for things like food and drink. Especially if you’re going to be making all of the food for the party, it’s a good idea to enlist a few friends or family members in the process, as it will cut down on the workload. The family is often more than willing to help offset the costs of a party, especially for such a big achievement. Especially if there’s a friend or family member that considers himself or herself a culinary wizard, let him/her chip in when it comes to buying and making food.

7. Consider not including a bar or having a free-drink limit.

While a bar is often appropriate at a graduation party (the person graduating is usually over the age of 21), it can be a serious expense, even if you just have a friend tending the bar or let everyone mix their own drinks. Unless having a bar is absolutely necessary, you might consider not having one, or at the very least, having a free-drink limit. Instead of paying for everyone’s drinks for the entire night, pay for one or two and then make each person pay for their own alcohol. Non-alcoholic drinks are usually less expensive to stock, and you could even just hire a local teenager for a few bucks an hour to pour sodas into glasses.

8. At a casual venue, go BYOB.

If you’re holding the party in your own backyard or under a rental tent at a park or some other casual venue, you can usually institute a BYOB policy. If your frame it under the guise of “everyone bringing a drink that they like, so we make sure you have something to drink,” it will be well received.

9. Hold a casual get together at a restaurant or bar.

One of the most common ways to hold a graduation party these days is to set up a Facebook event and invite everyone to a favorite restaurant or bar to celebrate. On these occasions, it’s usually understood that the guests pay for themselves, so your only cost might be renting out the party room or your own food and drinks. This is a great way to get everybody out together and having fun, without incurring a major cost.

Use one or all of these tips to plan a classy, fun graduation party, without breaking the bank!

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