Help! Graduation expenses


I am planning now for end-of-the school year expenses concerning the high school graduation of our oldest.

We are on a limited budget (large family) but would still like to provide a fun party - send out nice announcements - that sort of thing.

The graduation party is going to be huge - alot of family members from both sides, plus most of the staff at the school (hubby works there), plus our catholic friends, of course, will bring their large families with them.

So I would greatly appreciate any advice concerning economical ways to feed a large mass of people - attractive but inexpensive graduation announcements - or any other fun ideas some of you have done for your children that they appreciated.



Provide the drinks and meat… Ask everyone to bring a dish or chips. Grill up some burgers and dogs…

Do a joint party with other parents… this is what we did.

Have party at the school or at a public park.


You can print your announcments on the computer -save $$ from the commercial printing company!

For food, spaghetti with salad is an enexpensive way to feed a bunch, pot luck is even better!


don’t provide booze, that is the biggest expense for every party, and it also makes people eat more.
realize that this is one meal, you are not feeding these people for the whole day, and you are not Golden Corral–you don’t have to meet everyone’s personal preferences.
Trays of deli meats and cheese, bread or rolls, condiments, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onions, pickles.
Chips, dip and salsa
Jugs of iced tea, one sweet, one unsweet.
Jug of lemonade.
Decorated sheet cake–if you get lucky this may be the graduation present from a relative who bakes.

We just fed 80 Confirmation candidates this menu (with packaged cookies instead of cake) for $1.07 a person. We already had the paper products but the dollar store is a great place to find party supplies.

Do not overbuy. My brother BBQd enough food for 200 people for his son’s graduation party, and 40 people came. Get RSVPs if you are planning something expensive.

Grilling burgers, hot dogs and chicken legs will be somewhat more expensive and labor intensive, but still cheaper than a catered meal.

most economical is to join up with other families in a common location like a community center. That is what DD does with other families in their Catholic school for communions, confirmations etc.


**If you’ve got a computer with Microsoft word there should be templates on there for invitations…Now i remember when i sent out graduation announcements they also included the little card with your name on it…are you wanting that too?

You might also want to try Ebay or a dollar store for something already printed. How many people are looking at coming to the party? 100+?

Where are you planning on having it, at your house or somewhere else? How hot is it in May or June where you live if you are going to do something outdoors?Yes this one meal but people will proably be hungary since they came from the graduation ceremony. By time everyone gets done with pictures at the school, talking to people, etc it will proably be 2-5pm (depending on when the graduation ceremony starts) **


I have a question.

Is this party mainly for you and your family and friends, for your husband and coworkers, or is it for your graduate and his/her friends? My personal opinion is that it is wasted expense to try to do all of the above if finances are limited.

If it’s a mainly a family party then make it a pot luck. And don’t be surprised when your graduate takes off to go to the parties thrown by his/her friends. If the party is for your husband and his co-workers, then don’t invite family. If this is for your graduate, then keep in mind that your graduate will probably be honored that some school staff came to his/her party but will be too busy entertaining friends to worry about aunts, uncles, and cousins. This means you are inviting the family for YOUR sake rather than for your child’s.

Also keep in mind that many of these people will have graduates of their own so be realistic about who can attend and for how long.


very well stated, also applies to weddings.


Catholic recipes to feed many people:

5 loaves bread
2 small fish…


I’m assuming that the party would NOT be on the day of graduation. Most people have their party days to weeks after graduation. This allows you more time to relax after your child’s graduation without needing to rush home to be their for party guests. Also, some schools (like mine) have a party after graduation(other schools do prom). At my school we our drug and alcohol free party buses left less than 1 hour after graduation and did not get back until 6am the next morning. So a party on graduation night would mean that nobody’s friends would go.

Here are some ideas that my family did for my party which had about 50 guests:
*****had the party at my house in the backyard, as long as your backyard is large enough to accommodate guests and has some shade
***we had hamburgers and hot dogs, chips that we bought in bulk at BJ’s it’s similar to Costco I believe. Family members brought other salads/desserts. They were not asked to they offered to.
***Have your child assemble the guest list. It was his /her achievement,the party should have the people he wants there, of course that doesn’t mean he/sher can exclude any close family.But the people who he/she does not see often, know well he/she might not want at his/her party. it also cuts down the guest list. I had fun at my party because I was allowed to do that, and didn’t have to spend the entire party appeasing people whom I barely knew, like I saw at my friends parties. I am not saying that to be rude, but just as commentary over what I have experienced.
***have the start time of the party in the early afternoon and cook dinner, Guests SHOULD eat lunch before a 2pm party so you don’t need to have food for two meals. Also having dinner around 430/5 allows the person cooking to have time to enjoy the party also

*****keep the decorations simple, as they add up quickly cost wise

*****bottled soda is generally cheaper than cans

I hope that helps you some, and I hope his party goes well


Hi all! :wave:

I just wanted to emphasize this. If you are throwing a party in your child’s honor, YOU should be paying for the refreshments–not the guests.

I guess this just reminded me of a wedding invitation I received from a friend requesting that everyone bring a dish to the reception.

I could be wrong here, but I think Miss Manners will back me up. When you throw a party, hospitality requires that the host provide the food…however simple that may be. In the case of the wedding, I wouldn’t have been offended in the slightest by a cake and punch reception. The same with graduation parties, birthday parties and engagement parties…

I understand the desire to include everything and everyone, but I think it is far better to serve simple fare that you provide than to expect the guests to throw your party. If your friends or family offer to help out, then that is wonderful, but you shouldn’t demand it.

Good luck,



Are you sure? At the high school where I’m from, about half the students have their party on the day of graduation, and about half have it the day after. Having the party on the day of graduation makes it easier on family members who might travel to see the graduation.

Also, this is at a smallish high school.


Actually DO NOT print inviations from home. Design them at home and have Office Max or Staples print them. They will look nicer and save on ink cartriges. Its not worth it to print when you’ll be using up two $25 ink cartriges.


There are two reasons for this, one being that each student is only allowed 4 tickets to graduation, so not many people besides your parents and siblings are able to attend. Plus as I stated, we have an all night drug and alcohol free party that we are brought to less than an hour after graduation. So there was no time for a party and our graduation takes place at night. Every school is different…


**This is my experience too we had family who traveled from far away to come see me graduate high school so it would seemed crazy to have a graduation party not the same weekend.

Depending on how many invites you need to make and what goes with them i too would recomend them getting copied at kinkos, etc.

I forgot to ask earlier, is this a large high school graduation ceremony? 1000+ or is it smaller? i remember my small high school class taking 2hours…**


When my niece graduated from high school, she spent about 1 hour at the “family” party - then she was off to the school sponsored Project Graduation party.

The party will most likely be for the grown ups and little kids, the grads will be off to more fun!


Around here the ceremonies are usually held in the evenings (Monday-Thursday), and parties are the preceeding or following weekends. All schools here have a class party that is a lock in following the ceremony.


I think this might be a really cute idea. At you can make picture cards (like for Christmas), but make them with your daughters picture. On the bottom you can but Graduating May 21, 2007 (or what ever). Then on just a plain piece of paper (1/3th of a sheet to fit nicely in the envelope) have the details of the graduation and party. I think they are like $0.33 a piece and that includes the envelope. Or just e-vite… that would be free but not as personal plus not everyone has e-mail esp the older relatives.

I think a BBQ would be a really nice way to go. YOu can prepare the potato salad the day before or just do chips. Everyone will like it and you can feed a ton of people.

Good luck and Congrats to your daughter this is a big step!


Thanks for all the replies!
my dial-up wasn’t working this afternoon so I couldn’t get on here earlier.

Let’s see if I can answer most of these questions…

4 tickets are issued for the ceremony - so there isn’t an issue of alot of family coming in for the ceremony itself.
Therefore, we felt it was best to schedule the party for the following week because the kids wander from party to party right after the ceremony.

It is a small high school and daddy/hubby is the principal - which leads to one of the other questions about who to invite and how many.
because it’s a small school - small town - and our friends mostly are - at the same time - teachers, there is overlap.
People are invited because they were teachers/coaches of our daughter, but also good friends of ours who watched her grow up.
We also attended the parties for their children.

so…yes, it is her party and our party because our personal party “lists” would probably look pretty much the same (except we’ll remember to invite a few relatives who we don’t get to see very often).

You’ve already given me great ideas - I obviously don’t do this type of thing very often.

We most likely will try to rent a tent and hold the party at home.
We live out in the boonies on a hilltop - always a nice breeze in the summer, and we have a big yard for a tent.

I like the idea of preparing alot of the stuff beforehand.

So - after reading your replies I’m trying to figure what 's the best route…burgers/dogs on the grill - a barbecue - cold meat trays?
Hubby even suggested a pig roast. Something I hadn’t considered before.

Thanks Puzzlemania for sharing how you threw your party!

I also like that idea about the walmart picture cards - I will have to look into that this week.

Thanks again everyone! It’s been very helpful.


I design all the party invites for my boss and his wife. They have a few annual parties each year (March Madness and Labor Day). I design them in Word or in a picture editor then I print them at work because they own the business, I can do this. We usually have about 150 invites to print on the color xerox machine. Some get mailed, some get put in with pay checks and I always design one in a smaller size for email invitations. We keep a good address book for each occasion and we do a mass emailing. Most folks like email invites because they can refer back to it when looking at their calenders.

Also, when deciding on deli or grilling, think about what you want that day to be like. Does your dh want to grill a good portion of the day(some love it others hate it), do you have room in the fridge for all that deli stuff… those are usually the deciding factors for me.


"Does your dh want to grill a good portion of the day(some love it others hate it), "

he generally is all right with grilling except we’ve never attempted this size of an event before.
Maybe if one or two of his buddies pitch in he wouldn’t mind.

" do you have room in the fridge for all that deli stuff… those are usually the deciding factors for me."

We have 2 fridges - and family nearby who could keep some of the stuff and bring it with them on party day.

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