Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Graduation party planning: the details

I thought it might be helpful to go through some of the work we did and costs to E's graduation extravaganza. We had an open house for 80-100 (I never did get a final count as people were in an out all afternoon/evening) and we had a friend cater, so the costs were significantly lower that if you'd hire a restaurant.

We borrowed the tables, chairs and canopies from our church, which was a huge relief and saved us a lot of money. E and my dad picked up everything on Friday morning and set it up in our backyard.

You guys saw these photos (and sadly, I did not get photos of main dishes, or desert), but we did not skimp on food. I wanted a 'foodie' barbecue, and it was the highlight of the party. It was so fun to have everyone be surprised by the lack of typical backyard barbecue food like hamburgers, hotdogs and potato salad, and instead enjoy:

-Baba Ghanoush with pita chips
-Roquefort cheese dip with honey-marinated pears with rice crackers
-Grilled pineapple salsa with tortilla chips
-Smoked haloumi cheese with pickled cherries

-Tri-tip with chimmichurri sauce
-Pulled pork with peach barbecue sauce
-Grilled corn with spicy mayo and cotija

-Brownies with vanilla ice cream and stout caramel sauce

Food for 80 people + tip for our friend: $650

We picked up a half keg from a local brewery, Stone Brewing Company. It was a hit, but we overestimated how much people would drink. We were drinking flat beer for days after to use it up!
Cost: $110 (our friend got a discount)

While E arranged to have beer for most people, I wanted to cover our bases, so I made a large batch of Sangria. We paid a little more than I usually would, so we could get a good Spanish red wine. We used this recipe, but skipped the maraschino cherries and accidentally doubled the sugar (DON'T make this mistake!)
Cost: $38
Time: 20 minutes (+ refrigeration overnight)

I made the bunting we used by cutting triangles from a set of  blue fabric quarters from Joann's. I pinned them in double fold binding tape (also from Joann's) and stitched along the top. I had originally planned to put the bunting on a drop cloth wall hung on the canopy, but it ended up being too windy.
Cost = $13 (Fabric: $5, Binding tape: $8)
Time: 2 hours

Graduation caps
I found this idea after Beka pinned the inspiration photo. To keep it easy, I bought blue frosting in a squeeze can which I used attach the pieces together and for the tassel. The tops are fudge-covered grahams from Keebler and the bottom is mini Reese's with mini m&ms to top it off. It took seconds to put together each one and they were a hit, especially with the kids!
Cost: $18
Time: 30 minutes

Chinese Lanterns:
I trolled Weddingbee boards to find suggestions for cheap reliable chinese lanterns. We ordered them from The shipping price is pretty spendy ($11 via UPS), but we got 28 blue and white lanterns in three sizes and they arrived in two days.
Cost: $47

Napkin rolling!
Plates, Plasticware, Napkins
The leftover cloth from the bunting was cut into strips and used to tie the plastic ware/napkin sets together. We purchased the plates, plasticware and napkins in large quantity at Costco and only used about 1/2 of them.
Cost: $45
Time: 30 minutes

Total cost for party

Food and tip for our friend: $650
Beer (1/2 keg from local brewery)& Sangria: $148
Decor & Supplies: $168
Rentals (canopy, tables, chairs): free!

Total: $966 (or about $12/pp)

Thankfully, E's parents helped with some of the cost, and my parents and sister put almost everything together the day before and day of! In some ways I feel like we planned and executed a mini-wedding. I hope someone finds this helpful when planning their own graduation party or backyard barbecue in the future. I definitely loved hosting a big party, and I can't wait to find an occasion to do it again!


Post a Comment


Latte Love All rights reserved © 2008-2011 | I am a HowJoyful Design by Joy Kelley