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Event planner: Stick to budget for graduation parties

Posted May 29, 2009

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— The average family spends $1,200 on a graduation celebration, but event planners say it is possible to have a great celebration without spending too much.

“It can get out of control really fast,” event planner Samantha Dockery said. “The first thing I always tell people is, ‘Number one, have a budget and stick to it.’”

Another way to save money is by splitting the budget among several families.

“If you can get five BFFs (Best Friends Forever) ...together to have a party that would be great,” Dockery said.

Event planner: Stick to budget for graduation parties Graduation parties should stay on budget

Dockery says the biggest expense is likely to be food.

Sam Poley, a chef for Durham Catering Company, says knowing how much food you need can be tricky. “It’s a lot of math,” he said.

Poley says a good rule to follow is five ounces of protein per serving. For cookouts, he suggests budgeting three-fourths of a burger and one-half of a hotdog per serving. People 10 years or younger will generally eat half a serving. Teens and some adults usually eat one to one-and-a-half servings.

Poley said the Durham Catering Company asks clients to give a “demographic profile of the crowd” that will be attending their event.

When using a caterer, Poley suggest clients ask for a line-item budget and question things like service charges or corkage fees.

When planning a graduation party, invitations can also be an expense. Dockery said it is OK to invite some people online.

“Just send an adult a postcard and then all the teen friends you can invite them by e-vite,” Dockery said.

Dockery also suggests cutting costs by having an event that's not around meal time. One of her favorite types of parties is a dessert bar in the evening after dinner.


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