Hosting parties and entertaining is so much fun, but I’ll be the first to admit that it can get really expensive. And when it’s something really special, like a graduation party, it can be easy to go overboard.
With graduation season in full-swing, I thought now would be the perfect time to share three simple tips to stretch your graduation party decor budget.
You want to celebrate the grad and make the party extra special. And you'll likely have a large crowd to entertain and impress. These tips will help you get the “wow” effect without sacrificing your budget.
Make a list and stick to it.
The Internet makes it really easy to get overwhelmed with ideas. When planning your graduation party décor, spend a little time brainstorming ideas and making a list of all the décor items you’ll need to purchase or make in advance of the party.
These will be items that fit in your budget. Once you have that list, STOP LOOKING. You cannot do everything that is on the Internet and you shouldn’t try. It will only make you crazy and blow your budget.
When you try to decorate everywhere for your party, you end up not making a huge impact. No one can afford to decorate the entire party area from top to bottom
Instead, focus your time (and budget) on the three areas that will make the most impact – the entrance, the food area and a final “showplace.”
If the party is at your home, cleaning your stoop and adding a few small themed items out front can go a long way. Try some streamers and balloons in school colors or a framed senior picture instead of a wreath.
A quick front porch spruce-up will really set the tone for the party inside.
For most parties, this is the main attraction. So spend the majority of your time decorating this area. A few ideas:
- Use varying heights on the table to add interest. (I like to throw a colored tablecloth over empty boxes in addition to adding bins and containers for dishes.)
- Try serving food or dessert that fits with your party theme. This can be as simple as renaming your dishes creatively. If your school mascot is the tiger, try serving Tiger Tacos. Or add food items in your school colors. (M&Ms are great for this.) People get a kick out of these details.
- Create a fun backdrop with fabric, school pennants or posters covered with photographs of the graduate. Another option is to get a few large pictures printed as black and white engineering prints at an office supply store.
- Hang things from the ceiling, like tisse paper poms or lanterns in school colors.
This area will depend on your space. At my home, I almost always choose to decorate my mantel. At a park, you could set up a table in a pretty location under a tree. Think about your party and determine a final area that will be seen by guests.
For a graduation party, I think this area should be all about the graduate. Assemble items that mean something to the grad - like sports equipment, awards or hobby items - and then add as many photos as you can fit in the space. You can frame photos or just print tons of prints and use tape to "wallpaper" the wall for a big impact.
Basically, it’s just important to focus your budget on only a few areas, instead of trying to do it all.
Finally, I'm a big advocate of using paper to pack a punch at a party. As you know, paper is cheap, which is why I use it A LOT for party planning. For a graduation party, make pennants with scrapbook paper, banners with sentiments like "Congratulations" or "Class of 2013," or placemats with patterned paper. You can also use tissue paper from the dollar store to make tissue poms or tissue tassles.
With these tips, you are well on your way to a party that makes a big impact with no lasting effects on your pocketbook. Which means you can still pay for textbooks when your graduate makes it to college.
Sound off: What's your best party decor budget tip?