If your child – sorry, young adult – is graduating from high school or college this May, you’re no doubt feeling an enormous sense of pride. In such an emotional moment, it might be difficult to resist throwing an extravagant graduation party. With so many important milestones and expenses yet to come, it’s important to stay on track. Here’s how to host the grad party of your child’s dreams without blowing your budget.
Forget formal paper invitations.
Sites like Evite have made electronic invitations ubiquitous in recent years, and they make it easier for folks to RSVP, too. Social media is another option. Create a Facebook event and invite your friends. If you have relatives who aren’t as plugged in, you can always call them or send personalized postcards with the party details.
Join forces with friends.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for high school buddies to share celebrations. If your high school senior has been attached at the hip to a friend or two, see whether their parents would be interested in going in together on a party. This idea works well for college kids too – they might want to celebrate with a significant other or friends graduating at the same time. A joint party would work especially well for cousins, cutting down on travel and hassle for faraway or elderly relatives.
Host at home if you can.
Graduation parties are usually pretty laid-back. Why not make it a casual backyard affair? If your graduate’s uncle or aunt has a great patio or garage, see if they’d be interested in hosting the party as their gift. Renting a venue usually requires you to use their catering service, which can make costs skyrocket. Consider renting a backyard tent instead. At a home party, you can spend your food budget any way you like.
Consider an open house.
If you make it clear that well-wishers can come and go as they please over a period of several hours, people won’t necessarily expect a full meal. Having munchies and drinks laid out in an attractive spread that you can replenish will be much cheaper and stress-free than timing a hot lunch or dinner, even if you do all the cooking.
Enlist the graduate’s help.
You’re celebrating someone’s next step into adulthood, so let the party reflect the guest of honor’s taste. Map out a budget for how much you’re willing and able to spend and then work together to make it a special day. This will be a great exercise in practicing financial responsibility. If a fancy cake is important to your son, spend more money there and skimp on decorations. If your graduating senior wants her name on hundreds of balloons, put her in charge of making that happen.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Utilize all the resources at your disposal and be creative. Milestone parties should be about celebrating one’s success and creating memories, not spending all that graduation money.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.