Theresa's Mixed Nuts: Inexpensive Graduation Party Ideas

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Inexpensive Graduation Party Ideas

We finally got around to hosting a graduation party for Mariah over the weekend. After already hosting one big party this summer, I was a little worried about finding the desire to pull off another. But, since you only graduate high school once, I put on my superhero mom cape and got it together. To save on time, I decided to skip baking my own food, especially since I ordered a huge cake, and stuck with making a few crafts and party props that would help the guests have a more memorable time.

Graduation Party Ideas

I did buy a bunch of decor from the $1 store to perk up the house, but I also quickly whipped up this ribbon wrapped wreath to add a more personal touch to the decorations. If you are planning on dollar store decorations, buy them as soon as they hit the shelves. Most of the items were gone withing weeks of my store putting them out on the sales floor.

Using cheap graduation streamers from Walmart (97¢ each), I hung them on the wall to create a small photo booth area. Top with balloons and inexpensive photo booth props from Amazon, guests had fun posing for silly snapshots.

Graduation Photo Booth

Graduation Photo Booth

We also made a frame with a piece of foam board from the $1 store for more photo opportunities. Dress it up with a little ribbon and graduation year numbers cut from decorative paper.

Graduation Photo Booth Prop

I found this decorative box for $7 at Michael's Craft Store and dressed it up with some heat transfer vinyl for a keepsake that Mariah could take to college. I printed out some index size cards that I had the guests write out advice and well wishes to the graduate so she could have a little love from home with her while she's so far away this fall.


I knew there were going to be a lot of kids at the party, so with inspiration from Pinterest, I set up a candy station that I knew they would love. I found the tins for $2 each at Michael's, but I'm sure you could get them for $1 at the $1 store as well. I created some labels with cute school phrases I found on Pinterest to accompany each candy flavor.

Graduation Candy

Having the party in July helped keep costs down. I was able to find a lot of decorations for 1/2 off since most grads already had their parties earlier in the season. I found 12 packs of graduation bubbles for $1.25 each that the small kids really enjoyed playing with.


Graduation Candy Station


I did splurge and bought the largest photo cake at the bakery. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't fill up the bottom portion of the cake with more flowers or use bigger lettering to fill in the extra white spaces, but as quickly as it was gobbled down, it really didn't matter in the overall scheme of things. Instead of writing the standard congratulations greetings, I had them put a quote on the cake from Mariah's favorite film, Peter Pan.


Including the cake and cookout food, we were able to stay under our $250 party budget. I'd call that a success!


What are some of your favorite party activities?






35 comments:

  1. Such great ideas for your daughter's party! I love the photo booth, the words of wisdom and the grad. bubbles are so cute. Looks like a wonderful party! Congrats. to your daughter!!

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  2. The colour of those balloons is my fave colour in the world :)
    Loved the party and all the details, you really dedicated yourself to it! Love the photos with you and your momzie dearest on Facebook :) and you with moustache :) they really look good on you!
    Shame on them doing such bad lettering on the cake, but hope it was at leas yummy inside :)
    Congrats to Mariah!

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    1. Don't you just love that metallic sheen? I do love that color too!
      I didn't get photos of everyone at the party and that bummed me out. I was running around trying to mingle as much as possible, but at least I got some with my favorite people.

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  3. That is sure a win indeed. All really neat ideas. The box will be nice for her to look back on. The pics set ups add some fun. A great day sure looks to have been spun.

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    1. I know she'll be home sick, so I think she'll really appreciate having those notes from home when she gets lonely at school.

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  4. I love the tips! I'll have to wait to have a party until July when Mica gets that age, or buy things the year before when it's on clearance. I love the candy sayings. I may have to steel that, but stylize it differently, so I don't totally steel it. I love that you used a different saying on the cake than a typical one.

    She sounds like my kind of girl - not into typical girl things and like Peter Pan. I have never been super into makeup. When I was little I'd play more in the garden with the worms than doing hair or makeup. Being the artist, my Mom's side of the family always called my Dad and I the odd ones. *Insert Eye Roll! Odd is better than boring. Ha!

    Congrats to her!

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    1. The only thing about buying the year before is they put a lot of the current year on the items, so it will be outdated. I was only able to snap up a few things without dates on them last year :(

      Nothing wrong with being the odd one out. I am glad she's finally out of high school and is finding her way, just like you did :)

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  5. These are such cute ideas! I love how affordable they all are. You don't have to spend a ton to make a party fun.

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    1. Absolutely! You can dress up the most inexpensive things and have your party turn out like a million bucks!

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  6. I love these ideas. There's no reason to spend an arm and a leg to have a good time. You can have just as much fun with more frugal options.

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  7. These are some great ideas. I am all about spending as little as I can when planning a party. I love the bubbles.

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  8. These are some pretty awesome graduation party ideas. I never did have a graduation party :( I hope my daughter wants one as she is first to graduate and it would be cool, if not I hope the boys do when their time comes! Super neat ideas!

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    1. I didn't have one either, so it was super fun planning our daughter's grad party since she is also the first of my kids to graduate.

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  9. I never had one myself, but I did enjoy the gifts

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  10. Thus us such a good idea. I wish I had celebrated when I graduated but I was just separated and hiding from my x husband at the time. I love the book worm treats.

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  11. We had my daughter's graduation party a few months ago. I did the photo booth and it was really fun. I really love your wisdom box idea. What a lovely keepsake!

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  12. I remember when i graduated from college. I wish I would of did a photobooth!

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  13. Wow. I can't believe you were able to pull off a successful graduation party for under $250. That's awesome! It is just proof that you don't have to break the bank to have a great party. Just a little creativity and research will definitely keep us within budget.

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  14. The party turned out adorable! You totally pulled it off.

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  15. The dollar store is my best friend when it comes to parties. You did a stellar job on the party!

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  16. These are excellent ideas! I wish I would have thought of these when my daughter graduated high school....hummm maybe for college?

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  17. what a milestone and wonderful ideas!! Congrats to her once again!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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  18. This looks like a great graduation party you had for your daughter. I can't believe you were able to get all those awesome decorations and party food for less than $250! Wow. Wishing your daughter all the best in her future plans.

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  19. These are great ideas for graduation. I'll need all of this next year!

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  20. You did so well with the decorations and theme. I love the sweets station with the words like "So Long Suckers". It all turned out very nice.

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  21. I love everything about it. The cake is AWESOME! Congrats to your daughter on her graduation!

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    1. Thank you Rosey! And congrats to your daughter on her graduation as well!

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  22. That is such a cute idea - I love the candy buckets with the little quips. Congrats to your daughter - I know it's August, and I'm a bit late, but hey - I'm playing catch-up. Hope you've had a nice summer!

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    1. Playing catch up is the story of my life lol. Hope you are having a great summer too!

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    2. I hear ya...me too! Summer has been both good and bad. We've had some issues arise with my daughter - diagnosis of anxiety, panic attacks, and mild depression, which threw everyone for a loop. Had to arrange our schedules a bit, but she's making progress with counseling and meds. It's just scary...poor girl has really had a rough year, starting with the mono in the spring. :( I think we are ALL ready for school to start back and get to some sort of normal routine.

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    3. Aww, poor thing! It does sound like she's had a terrible go this summer :( Glad she's making progress with the counseling. Mariah had to do counseling when she was about 13/14 for anxiety too. Girl was pulling her hair out at the roots! Glad all that's behind us now. Sending your daughter healing thoughts and hope that the school year routine will help bring some normalcy back into her life ♥

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