This year was huge for us, as our first baby, Jessica, graduated from high school in May.  It’s kind of bittersweet — I mean, we are ready for her to become this strong, independent young lady, but we also are really going to miss our sweet baby girl.  Only boys left in the house now, so I am WAY outnumbered.  Anyway, the one thing Jes specifically asked for was a graduation party.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my budget-friendly ideas and tips to help you in planning for your kid’s graduation party or other celebration.

Personally, I think the best thing you can do is to have the party with one of your child’s best friends.  Probably by this point you are good friends with the parents of the best friend and everyone gets along well.  By combining the party with two or more people, you save money and you save on time.  This graduation party was for Jessica and her friend Laurel — so by the end I think it was a pretty fair split on the expenses of the party.  We had the party at my house, instead of renting a venue, so that also saved us some cash.  And, I needed to get my house spring-clean anyway so it forced me to get off my behind and get busy knocking down wasp nests, washing away the pollen, dusting off the pillows, etc.  Laurel’s parents, Lee and Kimberlee, handled getting most of the food, drinks, and ice.

Instead of printed invitations, Jessica and Laurel sent text invites to their friends.  This totally saved on time and money.  Next was purchasing the decorations — I bought a lot of them from Party City, and Laurel’s mom brought some decorations she had previously used for other parties.  The theme was really colorful, so I used my outdoor summer throw pillows for easy decor, inexpensive leis for everyone to wear, and plastic tablecloths and paper goods for easy clean-up.

I incorporated my own decor by adding lemons to bowls, shells on the tables, etc.  Another thing I did was borrow a bunch of galvanized tubs from a friend — I filled them up with ice and the small water bottles and placed them in different areas around the pool.  That way if the kids were thirsty, there was water nearby.  Also, I filled-up my glass drink dispenser/infuser with water and lemons and oranges.  Again, its cheap and everyone can always drink more water.  : )

For fun activities we had the swimming pool and hot tub, and we rented a “ninja warrior” type blow-up obstacle course.  We also had my kids’ water guns, floats, and pool toys that were a huge hit with the big kids.  My husband recently had speakers installed outside near the pool, so there was beach-type music playing the whole time.  But mostly, the kids sat around talking, swimming, and enjoying each others company.

No party would be complete without food!  You know how much kids love to eat!  : )  We decided on BBQ as the main dish, and we had all the sides to go with it — buns for sandwiches, chips, potato salad, dips with tortilla chips, baked beans, banana pudding, cookies, and of course, a candy table.  : )

All-in-all it was a great graduation party and a huge success!  Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and the weather cooperated.  I think my best advice would be to try and involve several friends and families into the planning process, plan early, designate specific jobs/responsibilities to each person, make a budget and try to stick with it, and loosen up and have fun.  The kids are going to have a great time no matter what happens.

One down, two more to go — though it will be a long time before I have to throw graduation parties for my boys.  What about you?  Are you planning a party any time soon?