How to Save Money on a Graduation Open House

Here comes graduation season! Your kid made it through high school and is ready to dive into college or the work world. You might be hoping to throw a simple backyard bash to celebrate your grad, but they may have something else in mind. Consider these money saving tips to go big with a graduation party without going broke.

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Graduation Party Essentials

Get the lights and sound systems ready! Many of today’s graduates expect a little “pizazz” at their parties in the form of celebrations that take place in rented spaces, similar to what is reserved for wedding receptions.

Today’s graduation parties often include elaborate, themed decorations and pictures, catered food, and bands and/or DJs to provide music. In recent years, grad parties have also become very competitive. Both graduates and their parents want to out-do other parties and earn a reputation as the social event of the season. These over-the-top additions can often include rented vendor food stands, photo booths and specialty entertainment like a comedian or exotic animals. Some graduates also want custom-printed items like napkins and koozies.

Planning a Graduation Open House

All of the “new and improved” graduation party expectations might seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of ways to stay within a budget and still throw a party that your graduate will love. Consider these six tips for throwing a party to remember without a bill that sticks around.

Start Early

You will wear many hats during this process. Don’t worry. You have raised teenagers — there is nothing you cannot do. As Party Planner, the earlier you get the details lined up the less likely you will have unexpected expenses along the way. Plan to be everything from Chief Marketing Officer (digital invitations will save on expenses) to Volunteer Coordinator (family and free labor go hand in hand).

Location Is Everything

Be prepared to spend a little to get a location that guests will remember. Maybe it’s a ballroom at the nicest downtown hotel in your city. Or an event center with a great patio that overlooks a lake. The trick here is to share the major expense. Pair your grad’s party with a party for three or four of their best friends who are also graduating. The more the merrier when it comes to parties!

Timing Is Also Everything

Make the graduation party an afternoon event. An open house that starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 4 p.m. tells guests that lunch or dinner are not being served. Instead, set up dessert stations, maybe an ice cream cart, and offer a coffee bar. Keeping young people on their feet mingling while enjoying sweets and caffeine is a road map to success.

Find the Cooks in Your Crew

Save on catering costs by assigning desserts and hors d’oeuvres to friends and family members who know their way around a kitchen. Limit the menu to elevated finger foods. Great things come in small packages. 

Be the DJ

The Bluetooth in your car has been hijacked by teenagers for years. You know what they listen to and should have no problem coming up with a playlist. Better yet, ask your grad to create their own playlist and they’d likely jump at the opportunity.

Get Social Cred

Create your own photo booth and ask guests to tag their images with a custom hashtag to track the pictures, ensuring that everyone sees documentation of the social event of the season.

Make Sure You Are Covered

Hosting the social event of the season could come with unexpected challenges. Make sure you are covered for any liability by checking in with your Farm Bureau agent.