Your Guide to a Low Cost High School Graduation Party

Planning a High School Graduation Party on the Cheap

By Chantelle Kadala

That bundle of joy you had about 18 years ago is finally graduating from high school and you want to throw the biggest and best party this world has ever seen, right? Then you remember that you are still paying all of those bundles’ bills and probably paying for college too, so maybe it’s time for a more economical party plan.

Here are some tips to planning a high school graduation party while keeping some money in your pockets.

The Party Spot

Location, location, location should be free, free, free. Home, a friend’s larger home, the backyard or a park all make great graduation locations. The plan is to keep the party small enough to fit just about anywhere. And you only have two bare minimum requirements for your location and that it has electricity you can access and that it has some kind of roof or cover for protection from the sun or a light rain.

Some things to consider when picking a location are parking for your expected head count, set up and break down time, and ease of getting to. Whether you find for free or pay make sure you visit the site in person before reserving to make sure what you want to do can be done at this location.

Guest Lists

To keep cost down you will need to keep the list of guests down. The best way to do this is to make it a graduation party for the child and his friends and not a family and friends celebration. This helps your budget in so many ways!

First it is a teen party so there is no alcohol to buy or serve. Second it’s a very specific invite that does not leave room for add-on surprise guest like visiting relatives and baby brothers that come with invited guest and eat all your food and drink all your punch at family free for all parties. Third you have a very specific number of guest so you know exactly how much of all your supplies and refreshments to purchase.

Any parents or family members who feel they need to come will can wait in a designated area away from the refreshments and help you with watching the party but they won’t be in the party.


Be smart about your decorations and spend a little time window shopping what you want to do. Look at store displays and check out websites like and to get pricing information and decoration design ideas. If you have started early enough you can purchase from these websites at low prices. Create a list of the supplies you need to purchase and then head to your most acceptable local dollar store before you buy anywhere else.

A lot of the items you want are there at the glorious and disposable amount of a single dollar. You could pay $15 for a plastic black table cloth with graduation graffiti or you could pay $1 and sprinkle the table with just a little of the $1 worth of metallic graduation confetti you bought at the dollar store. Once you’ve cleared the list of party supplies you could get for a dollar you can shop for the remaining items with a lot more money in your budget at the other places you found with the best prices.

Food and Drinks

If you have made the party a teen party then you have the luxury of providing teen quality food which might be the lowest price point there is for food. They don’t want your fancy high priced catering which is great because you don’t want to pay for it. If you were able to smartly set your party between meal times (like 2pm after lunch and before dinner), instead of during then you will be able to get buy appetizer type offerings like bagel pizzas, veggie trays and egg rolls. Things that can be cooked in bulk beforehand and easily re-heated or kept in the refrigerator and popped open when time.

If you should be offering lunch or dinner at your party time then you can go with the standard pizza offering but make is nice buy purchasing some round serving platters at the dollar store and serving on those and keeping the pizza boxes out of sight. And another great way to feed teens is to create a burger bar or taco bar. It is going to get messy so prepare yourself but you can skip the catering and easily prepare in large quantities hamburger patties or taco meats and then put out buns or tortillas on a table full of appropriate condiments. You will have to clean up because teens can’t see food they drop but you won’t have to serve and everyone can get exactly what they want.

Those are just a couple of ways you can throw a high school graduation party and not blow the bank. Do you have any suggestions or ideas to add? Let us know in the comments!