I have two daughters graduating from high school back-to-back in 2002 and 2003. Here are some of my tips to save money during this time.
High school pictures
I was fortunate and had a friend who is a photographer and she took two rolls of film. I paid her for taking the pictures and had them developed myself. I took the negatives to a local photo lab and received 80 wallets for $20 and developed only the ones that I needed for relatives. Ask around because there may be a person at work who has just completed a portrait class and is very good. You never know who is a photographer in waiting.
I checked with all various sources, such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and the school supplier. When comparing prices, styles and warranties, I found that the school supplier offered the best deal. We contributed $160 towards the rings and if my daughters wanted anything over that, they paid for it.
I bought 30 from the school supplier after checking out other places to have them done. I was not pleased at all and felt I could have done a better job with my computer, which is exactly what I did for the open house invitation and name card. My daughter and I went to the office supply store and she picked out what she wanted. Together, it cost me $12. She is planning on making the balance of the name cards into business cards after graduation from barber college and there is enough paper left over on which to write thank you notes. I did a 1/4 cut per page with 100 sheets. Even with mistakes, there is still a lot of paper left.
Start buying paper supplies and decorations early. Last year, I purchased some plates and napkins at the end of June that say, "Congratulations Grad". Also, our school colors are black and silver. So, I bought black items after Halloween and silver items after Christmas and New Years. For the yard banner, I bought five yards of muslin, put a hem like you would for a curtain at each end, used old political yard sign wires, and planted it in the front yard. My daughter wrote what she wanted on it and all the guests signed the banner. Need something in which to hold forks, napkins, spoons, and small food items? Look at old lunch boxes or pencil boxes. As a surprise for our daughter, we went through all the old photos, school papers, and awards that were accumulated through the years. I created a display with all of them using three science display boards. We really enjoyed looking back "through the years".
You don't need to break the bank when a child is graduating from school. My daughter followed my lead on saving money on the party and didn't use the traditional two envelopes on the graduation announcements. We used the second envelope for invitations only and thank you notes. We did, however, splurge on postage and bought the stamps that make a donation to breast cancer research as a dedication to one of her elementary school teachers who died from breast cancer.
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