Graduation parties are remembered for years to come. What people remember most is the fun they had and the people they were with. They will remember having good food and a good time. A graduation party could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and it would not be any better than one you could throw for under $100! It is all about planning. Plan your graduation party and set a budget and you will see how frugal actions will stretch your dollar and leave you smiling after the party and still having a fat wallet. Follow these 10 tips and you won’t break the bank.
1. Make The Cake. Instead of spending a fortune on a store bought sheet cake or half sheet cake, consider making your own! There are numerous web sites on the internet showing how easily you can decorate a cake. You can visit sites like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury and Kraft and Nestle and General Mills, You will find there is an abundance of ideas and recipes! You can also use box cake mixes bought ahead of time on sale with coupons and customize your cake to suit the occasion. By forgoing the store bought cake you also have the opportunity to be a real crowd pleaser because people care about what the cake tastes like more than what it looks like! By making your own cake, you have the opportunity to make multiple cakes and cup cakes in multiple flavors and with multiple fillings! Pudding fillings, cream fillings, fruit fillings and more. Additionally you can print little table cards next to each cake and/or dessert saying the flavor or name of the cake so the graduation party guest knows what they are sampling. You can make a festive ice cream cake out of ice cream sandwiches. See the following sample recipe http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Easy-Ice-Cream-Cake/Detail.aspx
Also you can put together a simple fruit salad with store bought poppy seed dressing for adults who want to skip the cake for something lighter. There are many fun party cakes you can make with cupcakes pushed together, called pull apart cakes. This is also a great way to have fun planning a party with your child. Even if you are doing all the work, your child can have input as to flavors and dessert decorating when you show them pictures of various recipes on the internet. Also, another easy breezy cheap treat is rice Krispies Treats and instead of cutting them into the age old squares, you can make them into a decorated shape. Do a search on cake cut outs (ideas for making cakes into fun shapes by cutting standard cake shapes into smaller pieces and then rearranging the pieces). The cake cut out ideas will also apply to things you can do with rice krispie treats too! You will not only be surprised that your decision to skip the store bought graduation cake will help your frugal budget with the graduation party, you will be delighted to see that you can actually serve much more cake and treats and for much less money, when you make it yourself!
2.Price match. If you want to save time but want to get the best bang for your buck, be aware of your local stores and price matching. Stores like Walmart and Target price match, as well as many grocery stores, if you just ask. Gather up all the weekly sales flyers and when you want to price match something just show the customer service desk or the cashier the price you want to get.
3. Plan ahead on soft drinks. The time to stock up on sodas and juices is when they are on sale. If you plan a few weeks in advance of the party you will pick the best price for sales on these drinks and get the most bang for your buck. Additionally, if you want to skip the sodas you can make your own iced tea for pennies and provide sweetener on the side for people to mix in. You would be surprised how many people don’t need their iced tea sweetened. It also gives people the option to use sugar free sweetener too. If you are also serving hot coffee, use thermal carafes to keep a good fresh supply. Ask friends and family for any extra thermos or carafe they have and borrow them for your frugal graduation party. If the tap water is good enough to drink, have plenty ready, ice cold and you can garnish the pitchers with thin lemon slices too.
4. Save money on party decorations. You can do this by sharing decorations with someone else who is holding a graduation party on a different day! You can split the cost. Other options include going to the Dollar Store such as Dollar Tree, a store where everything is a dollar. This will be much cheaper than the cost of party store decorations which tend to be inflated in price. Some dollar stores also have those big shiny Mylar balloons. Because those last for days, if you have a neighbor or friend or relative having a graduation party here is another way you can split the cost by sharing decorations on parties held on different days. Alternatively if you are a real plan ahead type person you can buy decorations at 75% off the year before, knowing you will have a graduation party the following year. Additionally, keep a plastic storage container for preserving all your decorations for future parties. Additionally, search the Internet for free templates for party decorating and you can use what supplies you have on hand to make your own decorations. Don’t forget to buy some balloons, because these also are an inexpensive way to add color splash to a party. You can buy balloons in your child’s school colors too. Instead of decorating with flowers you can make little table decorations with candy in school colors, such as licorice or jelly beans or lollipops or gummy candy or hard candy. Additionally, don’t forget garage sales are another great source for party decorations. Also, don’t forget Craig’s list. Craig’s list has a wanted section and a free section. You can put the word out that you are looking for cheap or free decorations and chances are you will get your wish and rather quickly!
5. Make your own music play list. Don’t spend money on a band when your house probably has a ton of great music at its disposal! Keep the music upbeat and appealing to many age ranges and try not to use offensive lyrics that would create any kind of controversy. Keep the music light and bright and suited to the occasion.
6. Make Your own food. Don’t pay a fortune for a caterer. You will also have a frugal party by not buying prepared cheese trays and fruit trays. Cutting and preparing your own trays is not only cheaper it will taste much much better. I have gone to parties where cheese trays were terrible because the cheeses which are cut up in the stores days ahead of time were not fresh tasting and in some cases dried out. All the cut surface areas of cheeses quickens the drying process and loss of taste. Also cut up cheese will absorb odors of other foods it is set near. This is why it is best to prepare your own food trays. You can keep your cut foods wrapped tightly and freshly and only arrange on the tray as needed. If you are creative you can consider making your own edible fruit or vegetable bouquet like the professionals only much much cheaper! See these links for how to ideas,
Two recipes for editble fruits and vegetable bouquets:
A nice spread of cold cuts and rolls and condiments and people can make their own sandwiches. You can inexpensively make huge bowls of potato salad and pasta salad. For salt snacks you can make popcorn and if you are in the mood you can make caramel popcorn too. Borrow some big bowls and serving platters from your friends and family and you will have everything you need at your disposal. If you want hot food, consider preparing ahead of time your own trays of baked ziti or lasagna, or macaroni and cheese and beans and franks.
7. Require RSVP. Getting an accurate count for your party will get you in the ballpark for how much food and seating you need. The key to a frugal graduation party is to not throw out food, but to have plenty of food.
8. Disposable Tableware. You don’t need to buy plates and cups and plastic ware made specifically for graduation parties. Stick with a plain solid color and you can’t go wrong. You have the option of getting a bulk package of these items at the party store, or using coupons at the grocery or discount department store. Use your calculator to calculate the cost per cup and per plate based on the various package options you have. From there, proceed to choose your disposable flatware and paper ware based on best price. Again, don’t forget price matching if you don’t want to run all around town.
9. Save The Postage. For saving paper, saving postage costs, and saving time and helping the environment, consider using electronic invitations. You can create a colorful flyer send via a word document or html text. Depending on how many people you are inviting, this frugal graduation party tip can save you quite a bit of cash!
10. Cheap Thrills And Entertainment. If you have talented friends and family give them a chance to get a little spotlight attention at the party. Is there a palm reader in the family? A singer? A talented guitar player? What about karaoke? A family comedian? With a little brainstorming you may just have some people at your fingertips who would be thrilled to add life to your party.
Now that have your frugal graduation party and ideas, remember when it comes time for the party to relax. No one little thing will make or break a party. It will be the spirit of the occasion and the love and people at the party that truly make the party. Your frugal graduation party may be cheap and save you money but it will be abundant at the same time, and that abundance will include the labor of love and good intentions! Graduation marks a milestone in a person’s life. As much as you give of yourself to put this party together you will be rewarded emotionally for how you succeeded in your personal challenge!
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