7 Inspiring, Inexpensive Graduation Party Ideas

7 Inspiring, Inexpensive Graduation Party Ideas

Go to the top of the class with tips from expert party planner Debi Lilly.
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Debi Lilly who owns A Perfect Event in Chicago
You don’t need a big budget to throw a graduation party that will earn you an A+. All it takes is a little ingenuity and some expert tips from noted party planner Debi Lilly who owns A Perfect Event in Chicago.

So study up on these innovative ideas and give your party the event-planner touch without the event-planner price.

A note to our readers: This article was originally published in 2013. Of course, you can easily adapt these ideas for any year.

have fun with numbers.


Low on time? There’s no need to sacrifice style. Just place cookie cutters (letters, numbers or stars) in a shallow dish and fill each shape with nuts and/or candies. Spell out ‘2013,’ the school’s initials (e.g. SDHS or IU) or ‘Congrats!’ Or order personalized M&Ms.

Have fun with numbers



let your food do double duty.


With a bit of planning your menu can double as party décor. Serve these watermelon mint pops with ‘2013’ removed using numbered cookie cutters.

Let your food do double duty


Then decorate your tabletop with the remaining numbers or freeze and place inside glasses of lemonade or iced tea. We love this recipe for raspberry iced tea with frozen fruit sticks.

Let your food do double duty



create a menu that matters.


Serve all the grads’ favorite foods (with special memories written on place cards) or feature regional recipes based on the college or school of choice. For example, southern comfort food would be a great choice for a student heading to or graduating from Ole Miss.


serve drinks that double as décor.


Your beverages can also do double duty, providing refreshment and adding some party pizzazz. Using numbered cookie cutters, cut fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple into numbers and place on skewers. Then freeze and add to tall glasses of iced tea, lemonade or these watermelon coolers.

Serve drinks that double as décor



print perfect pennants.


Print our special vintage pennant templates designed by Debi Lilly to create banners, decorate drinking straws, tape to toothpicks to top sliders or hang from a chandelier with ribbon.

Print perfect pennants


To save a step, use school-colored washi tape, to create mini pennants or flags. No tape or glue necessary. Just cut the popular colored or patterned tape in the shape of a flag with an angled or notched edge and adhere one inch from the top of a straw, toothpick or skewer.

Print perfect pennants



make your own tassels.


Follow these easy steps to make these tissue tassels to drape across a room or to create a fun DIY centerpiece by pinning them on the top of pencils. Don’t forget to use tissue in school colors!

 Make your own tassels.


make memories with a DIY photo booth.


Place your camera or smart phone on a tripod in an area where guests can take their pictures. For an extra touch, print these fun photo booth signs or tape streams of crepe paper, pennants or tassels to the wall as a backdrop.

Make memories with a DIY photo booth


More ambitious hostesses may want to tape school-colored balloons to the floor at different levels. Try various shades of the colors to create an ombre effect.

Take it one step further and set up a printer with photo paper. Print the photo instantly and have guests write a memory of the graduate on the back!

Build more buzz by posting party pictures on Facebook and then using blurb.com to pull the images into your own photo album. Or try resources like shutterfly.com or cvs.com both of which received top reviews from Good Housekeeping magazine. To print instagram photos, check out prinstagram to design your own photo calendars or stickers. Just send your friends a link to the finished product.

“It’s a free way for everyone to enjoy the party even after it’s over,” Lilly said.

And to relay appreciation for those graduation gifts, create customized photo or illustrated thank you cards at moo.com.
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comments (10)
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recent comments
5/19/2013 , 
Beverly  O.
Thanks for the fantastic ideas! I pinned them for my granddaughter for grad party ideas.
5/16/2013 , 
Becca  K.
I may even use some of these ideas for a 4th of July party! I especially like the decorations with the numbers and the red, white, and blue candies filling the cookie cutters! So fun!
5/14/2013 , 
Ke lly  A.
These are perfect ideas! I am going to try the number frozen fruit drinks! Thanks for the ideas!
5/7/2013 , 
Sophia  S.
What wonderful ideas! Some I would never have thought of.
5/6/2013 , 
Carolyn  V.
How creative! I love all your ideas. I plan to use them for graduation celebrations.
Showing 1 - 5 of 10 comments:
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