As Miss Party walks you through ways to cut or remove costs, let’s keep in mind that: a) most of your guests will attend your Graduate’s party regardless of what they perceive you will provide because they want to support him or her and the family; b) you know how little you spent, but your guests don’t and shouldn’t; c) making ‘budget-friendly’ decisions can still look awesome from the guest’s perspective and are not the same thing as being cheap; and d) a little thoughtfulness and creativity costs much less, and is valued much more with your graduate and guests, than full price ready-made is often worth.
Miss Party Smarty’s 5 tricks for tricky budgets:
1) It’s PARTY time! – Actually, it’s all about the party TIME! Choose a beginning and ending time for the party that does NOT cross over a mealtime. Guests won’t arrive with the expectation that a meal will be provided AND they are likely to be relatively full from the meal they had just before arriving at your party, or may not eat much knowing they will be leaving your party and going to dinner.
2) Send email invitations and have the teen set up a Facebook invitation, instead of paper invitations. No invitation, no printing, no stamps, no cost! Call elderly guests who aren’t computer savvy, or buy one package of paper invitations to cover the group that isn’t very computer literate. A fun postcard can also be a cost effective invitation, or take a pre-packaged set of invitations and jazz them up as you will see in the “Reach for the Sky” Graduation Party.
3) Do NOT provide a meal’s worth of food out of guilt over the party time chosen. Offer a small, but reasonable, amount of simple, high quality or fresh snack-type foods; one or two hors d’oeuvres, and one or two dessert options. Search out a friend who might have a bulk warehouse membership and watch coupons and grocery sales for ingredients you know you’ll need. Don’t make food for the masses or for more people than you reasonably expect will attend, people eat much less than you think when it’s a mingling type of event. You’ll turn savings into waste if you have a lot of leftover food. It’s okay if something runs out, there will be something else there for the guest to choose. Remember, people really aren’t there to eat, and with all the talking they will go to the food table very infrequently (especially women who are watching their diets).
4) Don’t serve alcohol, if you want to keep your costs down and, generally, stay out of trouble with the mixed age group. Instead, serve a non-alcoholic punch or mocktail (such as this non-alcoholic version of Planter’s Punch or French Lemonade), iced tea, or lemonade. A large, clear beverage dispenser can be purchased, borrowed or rented at a reasonable cost and would be preferable to a punch bowl if serving outside, for keeping bugs and unwanted alcohol ;) out. Sodas, flavored waters and iced water (with lemon slices for color) are welcome, too. Use 6-8 oz clear plastic glasses (a reasonably sized cup is best, people don’t over pour and waste with a gigantic beverage they can’t finish). If you would like to offer one alcoholic beverage, Miss Party recommends you go with white wine, or one red and one white wine choice. Very few teens and young adults have developed a taste or much interest in wine yet, so they won’t go overboard on it.
5) A Graduation Party doesn’t have to be expensive to be coordinated and cohesive! Purchase paper goods in a simple, attractive color scheme (the school’s colors?). Please try to stay away from the “Graduation Party” aisle at the party stores. Your guests know why they are there, they don’t need generic, iconic images all over the paper goods to tell them why. Instead, look for “optimistic” or “inspirational” images on inexpensive party paper goods that you could work into an original theme, like the hot air balloons image and catch phrase “Reach for the Sky” Graduation Party. These Michael’s Craft Store paper goods and matching accessories were extremely reasonable (under $2 each) and you can do an awful lot with just a few items. Take a look at the party and see towards the bottom of the post a photo of exactly what Miss Party started with. Streamers are very inexpensive and easy to make, too.