April 29, 2011
Getting Ready for a Graduation Party - On a Budget
We are on a tight budget in May as we will be hosting a graduation party for our youngest son. I've been buying ahead and planning ahead so that I can get the most for my dollar.
In our community a high school graduation party is a big deal. When I graduated from High School I had a little open house and we had cake and ham sandwiches. Now there are over the top graduation parties that can rival a wedding reception.
Parents rent any available party venue for the graduation party or they have the party in their home. If they have the party in their home, they will spend a lot of time (and money) getting the house ready and to also get the home improvement projects done that they have been putting off. One year we went to a graduation party that had a "Hawaiian" theme. I thought graduation was the theme.
We have received several party invitations in the mail. Most of them have been custom made by a printer. I made the invitation on my computer and I scanned in my son's graduation picture and printed them off here at home. The card stock was leftover from my card making days.
The only project that I am getting done before the party is the painting of our living room. One half is done and it is absolutely beautiful. Now on to the other half which I want to have done by the end of next week. (I will post pictures when it is finished.)
We need to plant some flowers and bushes, but I have no intention of doing this before the party. After all, everything goes on sale really cheap after Memorial Day and his graduation is the week before. The exterior of our house needs to be repainted and our light fixtures in the kitchen are ugly and need to be replaced. But again, I don't care if our house isn't picture perfect in time for the party. It doesn't bother me.
When you have a graduation celebration open house, you have no idea how many people will come. A lot of people have the food catered in, but I prefer to do my own cooking, except for the cake. I have placed an order for the cake - 2 sheet cakes and 1 "centerpiece" cake. Unfortunately it is very expensive - $175. I thought about ordering the "centerpiece" cake and then making cupcakes, but my son asked that we have the sheet cakes. I will save money in other areas.
For the rest of the food we are grilling hamburgers (the stockpile of hamburger in my freezer will be put to good use). I am making the hamburger buns and have all of the ingredients in my pantry. Then we are having a pasta salad (I have most of the pasta in my pantry) and tortilla roll ups (colorful tortillas spread with cream cheese mixed with dry ranch dressing, chopped red pepper, olives and chopped green onion). I was going to also serve potato chips but I don't think it will be necessary.
For drinks we are having pop and bottled water. I bought the pop today as it was on sale. I already have bottled water.
As to decorations - well, the centerpiece cake as far as I am concerned is the decoration as it will be in the center of the table. But I did save graduation decorations from our oldest son's high school graduation party. There is no class year on any of these decorations so I can use them again. Dollar Tree sells helium balloons for $1.00 so I will go out and buy 3 to place on a post on our front porch.
I already have a cloth tablecloth that we can use. As to the plates, napkins and forks, I am going to purchase colorful graduation napkins and I also have plain white napkins (Marcal) that I bought on sale with a coupon. The plastic forks are pretty cheap at one store and I will pickup some cheap plastic recyclable plates at another.
We are expecting anywhere from 100 to who knows. At my oldest son's party we had around 125 people. Our youngest son knows more people.
I've done my best to pick a menu that won't break the bank. I am making the food except for the cake and I have been buying items as they went on sale so we won't have to buy everything a few days before the party.
As to the budget, I will be paying $175 for the cake. The pop cost me $45. The meat was purchased months ago, as were the ingredients for the hamburger buns. I have allowed myself a budget of $350 for this party which means I have $130 left to spend on what I need.
I have been to graduation parties that have cost over $1,000 with catered food and fresh cut flowers in vases for decorations. I have been to modest parties such as what we are having. I have always enjoyed the simple parties the most.
On the day of the party my husband will be grilling hamburgers in the backyard and any men that come will probably congregate around the grill talking to him. My best friend is taking the day off from work to help me in the kitchen. People can eat inside or out in our backyard. We are not renting a tent for the back yard (yes people even do that). If it starts to rain, they can mill around the downstairs of our house or eat on our front or back porch.