Before your grad has decorated their cap and collected their degree, it's time to start planning an epic gathering to celebrate all their hard work. These days, graduates and their families often host parties celebrating several graduates together at one party instead of multiple parties. That doesn’t mean that there still aren’t a lot of parties to attend, it just means there are not quite as many. What it means for the hosts is that many guests make the circuit to several of those parties and don’t tend to eat as much when they do come to yours. Keep that in mind when planning the menu.
Hiring a food truck to come to supply the food for a party has been a trend for the last few years, but while it makes a party easy to host, using caterers and/or food trucks can cost a bundle. If you’re hoping not to spend a year’s worth of college or grad school tuition, there are many more affordable ways to throw a fantastic graduation party without feeling like you have to break the bank! These 5 tips will help you host a memorable yet affordable celebration for the grads in your life – whether it’s a party for one grad or several:
- When planning the menu, choose recipes that can be made well in advance and in big batches. Bellisari’s has plenty of tasty gourmet recipes that would be perfect on this special and fun day! For an easy grab-and-go food, try Phyllo Shells with Mascarpone cheese and our Blistered Jalapeño & Fig Spread or our Blue Cheese, Honey & Shallot Deviled Eggs recipe. For bigger dishes, try our Cold Caprese Pasta Salad, or for chips and dip, try our Calabrian Lasagna Dip recipe!
- Candy buffets have been popular for the last few years and are still an attractive and colorful way to serve something sweet. This year, change it up a bit by setting up a cookie buffet! Top it off with a decorative sign that says “He/She’s One Smart Cookie!” and you not only have an inexpensive dessert option, but you also have a cute decoration for the dessert table too. Many cookie recipes freeze really well without losing any quality upon thawing, meaning you could make multiple batches in advance, freeze them, and pull them out the morning of the party. By the time guests begin arriving, the cookies will be ready to devour! (Now who’s the smart cookie? 😉)
- Save on renting a venue by hosting the event at one of the grad’s homes. I know planning an outside party can be nerve racking if the weather is iffy, but if taking the party indoors in case of rain isn’t an option as a back-up plan, you may want to rent party tents so guests can stay dry and still enjoy the soiree. A hot, sunny day can be just as bad as a rainy day if you don’t have places where guests can cool off in the shade. One or more party tents may be a necessary expense. You can usually rent tables and chairs from the same place you rent the party tents, and depending on how many guests you plan to invite, table and chair rentals are just one expense you’ll have to budget for.
- When it comes to beverages, it can be a little tricky. If you’re celebrating high school graduates, you will need lots of non-alcoholic drinks, but pop can be pretty expensive. If you’re trying to economize, have pitchers of lemonade, iced tea, or any other cold drinks you can serve to minors. Not only will you not have to worry that any underage drinking is going on, but you’ll save a bundle if you forgo the beer and wine for adults too. If it’s a college graduation party, you could serve alcohol and still save money by serving a signature drink like pitchers of margaritas, sangria, or any other drink that can be made in large batches.
- My last tip is simple. Have some games or activities that folks can play or do while at the party. Corn hole and giant Jenga are a couple of popular games to play outside. Depending on the space you have available, maybe you can set up a badminton net or a croquet court. More than likely if you don’t own these games, one of your neighbors does. Borrow their games, but be sure to invite them to the party!
People often make the mistake of thinking they have to spend a lot to have a great party, and that’s just not true. With some planning and a little creativity, you can throw your grad or grads a fabulous party they’ll never forget. Congratulations to all of the graduates this year from all of us at Bellisari’s!