Homeschool Graduation

How to Hold a Homeschool Graduation Party on a Small Budget

You can plan and hold a homeschool graduation party without breaking the bank or jeopardizing your sanity.

Keep your party focus where it needs to be -- celebrating your son or daughter’s homeschool graduation. Don’t get bogged down in the party planning to the degree that you can’t have fun and rejoice at this milestone.

As exciting as it is to pass the milestone of homeschool graduation with your senior, it can sideswipe the family budget to come up with the needed money for all the extra expenses that come along with it. While you won’t want to forgo the essentials such as a high school diploma, senior portraits, and a cap and gown, you probably do want to stretch your dollars where you can. The graduation party is one area that can be done inexpensively while including family and friends in a fun celebration that honors the graduate. Mix and match these tips to keep your party affordable.

Keep the Guest List Small

There’s no rule that you have to invite everyone under the sun. In fact, because of the expectation of bringing a gift, many friends, who are just as financially strapped as you are, may be relieved not to be invited. The fewer people you invite, the smaller a venue you need and the less food and beverage you will need to supply.

Host the Party at Home or at a Free Venue

Nix the venue rental cost and hold the party at your own home. After all, you homeschooled you child! What more fitting location than your own house to celebrate the culmination of all those years? If your home is small, consider using your backyard for an informal cookout or buffet. If your home is truly out of the question, reserve a local park, inquire at your church, or ask at a local community center. Those places are typically free or very low cost.

Hold an Open House with Light Refreshments

Let your guests come and go at an informal open house with the traditional trio of cake, mixed nuts, and punch. People aren’t coming to eat. They are coming to congratulate your teenager, socialize a bit, and enjoy a small snack. You don’t have to prepare a full meal or even a buffet of appetizers. Keeping the menu simple keeps it affordable. Provide small cups, small bowls, and small plates to encourage guests to take smaller portions. Guests also tend to eat less if they stand while eating instead of sitting at tables.

Make it an Informal Cookout or Economical Self-Serve Bar

If you do want to prepare a meal for your guests, think backyard barbeque -- hamburgers and hotdogs are predictable, but they are universally enjoyed. And most importantly, they are cheap. Or if you prefer, set up a self-serve bar with one of these budget conscious choices:

  • macaroni and cheese bar
  • baked potato bar
  • nacho bar
  • chili bar
  • pancake or waffle bar
  • biscuit bar

Keep Decorations Minimal

Don’t buy into the mindset that every little detail has to scream “homeschool graduation.” Although Pinterest is full of these adorable themed party ideas, they can add up to big expenses, lots of time invested, and one big headache. Keep it simple.

Look at what you already have on hand: what tablecloths and paper goods are in your pantry? What flowers are growing in your yard at the time of graduation? A bouquet of helium balloons makes a big visual impact for just a few dollars each. You bought a cap and gown and diploma for your teen. How could you display those as part of the decorations?

Enlist your teen to create tissue paper flowers or huge cardboard cut outs with the numerals of the year. They will probably think it’s great fun to make as a project with friends, and you just saved a bunch compared to pre-made decorations.

Set up a memory table that honors the graduate instead of buying decorations you won’t use again. Photos of the graduate and various mementos from the years of homeschooling and growing up become the focal point for your guests to admire instead of costly floral arrangements.

Borrow and Barter

Think outside the box when it comes to cutting costs and you still have all the bells and whistles without spending a fortune. If you have a friend who also has a graduating teen, ask if you can borrow her leftover decorations or barter cake decorating skills. Borrow serving dishes, linens, and utensils from a relative with plenty to spare. Most family and friends are thrilled to be able to help out in this way, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Use a Combination of Print Announcements and Social Media Invitations

Mail print graduation announcements to family members and close friends, but use social media to invite people to your informal party. Or pick up the phone and call! That method still works!

Nix the Extras

Besides a full meal, a rented venue, and elaborate decorations, here are more graduation party options that you can take off of your plate:

  • a photo booth
  • party favors for guests
  • a guest book
  • a photographer
  • a new outfit for you and the graduate

Keep your party focus where it needs to be -- celebrating your son or daughter’s homeschool graduation. Don’t get bogged down in the party planning to the degree that you can’t have fun and rejoice at this milestone. You can do this without breaking the bank or jeopardizing your sanity.

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