Our daughter graduates this spring and wants to have a graduation party afterwards for family and friends. We have very little money for that. Do you have any ideas for finger foods, salads, and decorating ideas that would fit our budget? Thank you, Bobbi
How To Have A Nice But Cheap Graduation Party
The first thing to keep in mind when hosting a cheap graduation party is to keep it simple. Please, don’t have a potluck! That’s just tacky! It’s better to have a small amount of great food instead of an entire dinner that will break the budget! I’ll share a few recipes from our cookbook to help you out below!
Cheap Graduation Party Decorations
Decorate using anything that your daughter has collected over the years that has her high school colors or mascot on it.
Tablecloth: For a tablecloth, go to the dollar store and get a plastic tablecloth in her school colors or go to Wal-Mart and get an inexpensive twin sheet (for about $3) in her colors.
Balloons: Also, balloons and streamers from the dollar store can add a lot to the decorations for a small price.
Misc. Decorations: Hang school pictures or scrapbook items around the room or lay them on the table
Cheap Graduation Party Food
For my daughters graduation I didn’t decorate much, but I did lay out a very nice food table.
Food Presentation: As far as food goes, having a nice but cheap graduation party is really more about the great recipes and presentation than the food.
Even the most inexpensive food looks expensive when served on a silver platter or glass tray which you can get at Dollar Tree and Thrift Stores.
Do things like cut the sandwiches into triangles and cut off the crusts.
Punch can be a less expensive alternative to trying to serve pop. I make punch all the time by mixing 3-4 different flavors of Kool-Aid and then freezing it long enough to make it slushy. Use less water than what the directions indicate. If the package calls for 2 quarts of water, I use 1 and 3/4 quarts. People frequently ask me for my recipe and are often surprised to learn that it is just plain old Kool-Aid. You can also make an easy but fancy punch like this one.
Look through your cookbooks and find salads that call for less expensive ingredients. For example, adding a few veggies to a pasta salad is less expensive then making a veggie salad with lots of cauliflower and broccoli in it.
Make Your Own Mints
This easy homemade molded party mints recipe is perfect for weddings, showers and many other special occasions! This recipe is just one thing you can make to save money and impress your guests!
Party Mints Recipe
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 (3oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring
Sugar Candy mold
Mix first 4 ingredients. Knead several times. When dough is smooth, roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours. Roll into small balls, dip in sugar and press into mold. If mints stick to mold, knead in more powdered sugar. Remove from mold and let dry 1/2 hour. Store in airtight container. Can be frozen or refrigerated. Makes 100 one inch mints.
Use food coloring to match the bride’s colors.
You can buy molds in the craft section at Wal Mart, or a cake decorating shop. Use anything you like – hearts, leaves and shells all work well.
Kristina Writes: I wanted to add a tip to your Molded Party Mints recipe. If you don’t have molds for your mints, you can roll into balls and use an initial imprint stamp with the first initial of the graduate’s name. Just push the stamp down in the center of the mint and use even pressure. They look like designer mints. If you powder the mints with more sugar, do so before you stamp the mint. Thanks for letting me put in my two cents!
3 Ingredient Punch
1 liter orange juice (you can also use grapefruit, strawberry, etc.)
2 liters of your favorite lemon/lime soda (diet may be used).
1 pint of your favorite fruit sorbet (raspberry, orange or lime are all great flavors)
Pour juice into a large punchbowl. Add soda. Add fruit sorbet and don’t mix. Let sorbet float around in punch until melted.
Sparkling Brunch Punch
This Sparkling Brunch Punch drink recipe makes a tasty and refreshing fruit punch that’s not just for brunch. You can serve it at pool parties, showers and lots of other other get-togethers. It’s a different and refreshing drink recipe that is great in place of iced tea or as another drink option. Your guests will love it and the kids will keep asking for more!
1 (46 oz.) can pineapple juice
6 cups orange juice
1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade
1 (750 ml) bottle of sparkling white grape juice, chilled*
1 (2 liter) bottle lemon-lime carbonated drink, chilled
Mix the first 3 ingredients. Before serving, add the last 2 ingredients. Garnish with orange slices, pineapple chunks or lemon slices.
*You could use 3 cups of white grape juice, if you prefer or if you have it on hand.
Here’s a strawberry salad that I used at my daughter’s graduation that is great because it freezes well, allowing me to make it long before the party. If you have a cake, too, this dessert can be used as a fruit salad instead.
This is probably one of my favorite desserts, partly because it is not too rich. It is a very light dessert. It is an especially good one to keep made up in the freezer for when unexpected company comes by.
I like to use it not only for graduation parties, but also for baby showers or any other get-together because I can make it a week ahead of time and that means one less thing to have to deal with the day of the special event!
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup butter, softened
Mix and slightly press or crumble into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally while baking to make crumbly. When cooled, remove 1/3 of it to save to sprinkle on top of the dessert. Evenly spread out the remaining portion in the pan.
2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 10oz. package of strawberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (must use)
1 small container whipped topping
Place first 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed for 10 minutes or until it forms stiff peaks. Be sure to use a large mixing bowl because this really increases in volume. Fold in whipped topping and spread over crust, Sprinkle with the 1/3 cup of crumbs you saved back. Freeze for 3-6 hours or overnight.
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