If you are hosting a graduation party for your child or another loved one, food is probably one of your top priorities. Depending on the size of your guest list, this could be a costly endeavor. Fortunately, with a little know-how and some creativity, you can create a spread that will impress everyone without breaking your budget.
Serving appetizers throughout the party can provide a festive, sophisticated air without being exceedingly expensive. Laying out a buffet of bite-size foods can be very budget friendly, especially if you are prepared to do a little prep work.
Platters of cut-up, in-season veggies, slices of deli meats and cheeses along with a variety of crackers and dips are ideal. Fruit is also affordable in-season. Pile up chunks, slices and small pieces of various fruits and serve with yogurt dip or rent a chocolate fountain.
Alternatively, think of your grad’s favorite foods and discover a way to make them into hors d’oeuvres. For instance, bake mac and cheese in mini muffin tins, fill corn tortilla scoops with taco meat and toppings or assemble several types of pizza on tiny bagel halves.
Sweet treats are widely appreciated and can be gentle on your budget, particularly if you enjoy baking. Cake pops, cupcakes and cookies decorated in the graduate’s school colors will tie the goodies to the event. If you can borrow or rent a chocolate fountain, set out a variety of dippable snacks, such as pretzels, chunks of pound cake, marshmallows and strawberries.
Place jars of colorful candies on dessert tables, placing small scoops in them so they can serve double duty as bright decorations and tasty treats.
Although there is a messiness factor to consider, barbecues can be highly affordable and extraordinarily delicious. BBQ standards, such as burgers, hot dogs and drumsticks are inherently budget-friendly, and even lower-priced steaks can taste amazing when marinated.
Serve with simple sides, such as salads, chips and grilled fresh veggies.
If fussiness is not an issue, a casual sandwich setup can be perfect for a budget graduation party menu. Offer an assortment of sliced breads, rolls and wraps; deli meats and cheeses; and condiments and toppings.
Pair sandwiches with sliced fresh fruit, crudités and chips or mayo-based salads, such as potato and macaroni salad.
A do-it-yourself bar with a specific theme allows everyone to eat what they like without being costly. For instance, you might set up a taco bar with seasoned meat, corn and flour tortillas and fixings, such as lettuce, cheese and tomatoes.
A baked potato bar is another option. Offer baked white and sweet potatoes wrapped in foil alongside toppings, such as butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese, marshmallows and brown sugar. Some other ideas include a pasta bar, a waffle bar and a grilled cheese bar.
When deciding on the menu for your graduation party, consider the types of food in season or locally available (and thereby more affordable), what you enjoy cooking or preparing and, of course, foods your graduate loves to eat. Chances are good you will find a way to plan the perfect party menu for your budget.