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Budgeting for your Graduation Party

When planning a graduation party there are a few things you need to plan and budget for. The amount spent on each item is up to you. Some things may not be important to you so you may decide to skip them altogether. Some things may be very important so you may decide to spend a little more.

Here is a list of things you should consider:

  • Graduation Invitations. You can order printed, embossed, very formal graduation invitations for a lot of money or you can order blank graduation invitations you print yourself at a fraction of the cost. Printed invitations come in a variety of styles and the prices vary so make sure you shop around. You can also design a “newsletter” type invitation on 8.5″ x 11″ graduation-themed paper that can be printed or color copied very economically. You can also do a combination of invitations – e.g. order more formal invitations for relatives and family friends and order more casual, less expensive invitations for your grad’s friends. Many high school grads invite their friends via online websites such as Facebook and MySpace so make sure you check with your grad first. You may need less invitations then you think. Go to GraduationParty.com for more ideas.
  • Thank You Notes. After the party is over your grad will need to send thank you cards to the people who gave gifts and you will need to send cards to the people who helped with the the party. There are formal, pre-printed Thank You Notes as well as casual and photo Thank You Notes. Go to GraduationParty.com for more ideas and for sample wording.
  • Postage. Don’t forget to budget for postage for your invitations and thank you notes. Check out these “Photo Stamps” for a fun postage idea!
  • Food & beverages. No matter what you do or how big your party is, you will have expenses associated with food & beverages. You can budget big and have your party catered or you can budget small and make and serve the food yourself. Don’t forget to include drinks like pop and water in your budget. And don’t forget to include expenses for buying or renting serving dishes, containers or gadgets you need to keep cold food cold (eg: coolers) and hot food hot (eg: warmers). Go to GraduationParty.com for tips on keeping food cold or warm, menu ideas, etc.
  • Cake or Cupcakes. A graduation themed cake or cupcakes is the dessert to serve at your party. Perhaps you can make this yourself (or ask a friend who loves to bake?) or check with your local bakery. Go to GraduationParty.com for more ideas. 
  • Plates, cups, etc. Depending on what you serve at your party you will need plates, napkins, cutlery, and drinking glasses. You can use paper products or you can rent nondisposable ones. Either way make sure you include this in your budget. If you plan early enough you may be able to buy paper products on sale. Online party suppliers like Shindigz often have sales as well.
  • Table covers. Think about all the tables you will need at your party – tables your guests will sit (or stand) at, tables you will use to hold food and beverages, tables used for the tribute to your grad, and a table for graduation gifts and cards. You may need table cloths as well as skirting. If you don’t own enough linen table cloths, you can buy disposable ones or you can rent non-disposable ones. Shindigz sells a wide selection of disposable table covers and skirting in multiple colors and sizes.
  • Decorations. Everything from signs and banners to centerpieces and streamers to balloons and scene setters. This is where you can have a lot of fun and spend a lot of money. Decide what you want early on and set your budget. It’s easy to go over budget on this one! Go to GraduationParty.com for lots of ideas.
  • Balloons. Of course balloons are decorations but even if you decide not to go hog wild with decorations a few balloons here and there is an economical and fun way to brighten up your party space. Consider using your high school or college colors. Check with your local party store or online at GraduationParty.com.
  • Yard Signs. A great way to decorate the outside of your house and let people know where the party is, is with a yard sign or two. You can even drape a large banner (waterproof ones are available) across your garage. Click here for ideas
  • Pictures, Scrapbooks & Poster Boards. If you’re planning a tribute area for your grad then you need to think about what you want to include. Many people make photo boards, scrapbooks or photo albums. So you’ll need to decide if you need photos copied or printed (from film or digital) and what supplies you need – poster boards, embellishments, scrapbook supplies, photo albums, etc. Click here for ideas
  • DVD. Some people like to create a DVD of photos that is played on the TV during the party. You’ll need to decide whether you want to do this yourself in which case you need special computer software and blank DVDs or if you want to hire someone to do this for you. Either way make sure you leave yourself lots of time to do this. For more information go to GraduationParty.com.
  • Take Away Gifts. Little bags of candy or personalized chocolate bars are sometimes provided as take away gifts for party guests. Think about whether you want to do something like this. Some people do, many people don’t. Click here for ideas.
  • Wait Staff/Helpers. It’s not fun to be stuck in the kitchen for the entire party. You can ask a friend or two to help serve the food or you can hire a server and/or bartender. If you ask a friend to help you may want to get them a little thank you gift. For more information on asking for help go to GraduationParty.com.
  • Entertainment. Entertainment can be a big plus at a party. Some people like to hire entertainment like a DJ, band or face painter and some people like to rent stuff to do like inflatable play structures or games. Another option is to buy some backyard games like volleyball or bocce ball (if you don’t have them already). Click here for ideas.
  • Location. If you are able to host your graduation party at your home then the expense associated with location should be minimal, unless you have to do renovations. If you can’t host the party at your own home or at a friend’s home then you may need to consider renting a banquet hall, restaurant, park facility, or some other fun location. Click here for ideas.

Creating a budget for your party forces you to think about and plan for your party early. It also helps set expectations as to what you can and cannot do. And it can save you money! By planning early you can take advantage of sales and discounts and you won’t be disappointed or have to pay premium prices for booking things at the last minute. 

For more information and ideas on Graduation Party budgeting, including sample budgets, go to GraduationParty.com.

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