Planning The Perfect Graduation Party

Share this:

MINT HILL, NC – In the fall of 2022, researched the cost of throwing a graduation party in all 50 states by collecting price data on 60 essential items for a cookout-style party ranging from food and drinks to decorations.  In North Carolina, the grand total for a 60-person party came to $1,100.04, or about $18.33 per person.  

Whether you’re inviting the entire graduating class for a sit-down dinner or having a few close friends and family over for snacks and drinks, graduation is an occasion to celebrate.  Here are some ideas for saving and splurging when it comes to celebrating the graduate in your life!


Save on decorations by hitting up Dollar Tree, which stocks tablecloths; plates, napkins and plastic cutlery; streamers; and helium balloons in every color of the rainbow!  As we near graduation, Mint Hill’s stores tend to stock up on items in Independence High School’s signature green and gold.

Indian Trail Yard Cards can utilize the graduate's school colors.
Indian Trail Yard Cards can utilize the graduate’s school colors.

Splurge on decorations for your graduate by ordering a “Yard Card” from Indian Trail Yard Card.  Large yard signs containing names, greetings, balloons, stars and graphics soared in popularity during COVID as a way to show loved ones you cared when you couldn’t be there in person.  Indian Trail Yard Card’s graduation signs include the greeting “Congrats (name)” and can utilize the graduate’s school colors or a basic black/gold style as well special graduation graphics like “Class of 2023.”  

Basic black and gold are a great option for graduation.
Basic black and gold are a great option for graduation.

Yard cards are $80 for a 24-hour rental.  Graduation season kicks off in May and continues through mid-June for Indian Trail Yard Card, which serves Indian Trail, Matthews and Mint Hill.  Ordering soon will help guarantee the date and colors you want are available!  Place your order at or email


Save on the menu for your soiree by DIY-ing the food for your graduation party.  Sticking with just snacks or a limited menu are the most budget-friendly options, but watch out for extras that can add up, like condiments, beverages, ice, plates and napkins.  Keep in mind that handling the cooking yourself is no small amount of labor: you’ll be the one constructing a menu, figuring out how much to buy, shopping, prepping the food, setting it out, and cleaning it up.

Sausage and Peppers by JoyMarie
Sausage and Peppers by JoyMarie

So why not splurge and save yourself time and effort by having your graduation party catered?  Sweets and Savories by JoyMarie offers a wide variety of catered Italian dishes like braised beef, sausage with peppers and onions, baked ziti, pasta primavera, linguine with white clam sauce, eggplant or chicken parmigiana, chicken piccata, meatballs or Italian sausage in red sauce.  Add a side like mashed or roasted herbed potatoes, a garden salad, and some garlic knots or fresh bread to make it a full meal!  

Full tray entrees from JoyMarie serve between 10-20 people and range from $140-$165.  JoyMarie recommends at least six full trays plus salad and bread for an event with over 60 guests, and she’s happy to work with you to customize a menu.  Make your party worry-free by adding on sterno racks and heating cans, delivery and set up, and paper products (each available for an additional charge).

Pastries by JoyMarie
Pastries by JoyMarie

Sweets and Savories by JoyMarie also offers a full menu of desserts, including cakes, cupcakes, cheesecake and pastry platters.  Visit Sweets and Savories by JoyMarie on Facebook for up-to-date dessert offerings.

Although handling the cooking yourself might seem like a no-brainer if you’re on a budget, you might be surprised when you break it down.  Two trays of baked ziti, a full salad and a full tray of garlic knots from JoyMarie plus sterno racks and heating cans will feed a party of 40 and run you about $350, or roughly $8.75 per person – not bad when you consider the $18.33/person average for a backyard barbecue!  Follow Sweets and Savories by JoyMarie on Facebook for more information about their offerings, or email them at


A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful.  Save on a present for the graduate in your life by gifting framed photos, heartfelt cards or practical items they’ll need for college or career.

PhotoMozaix combine hundreds of tiny images to create one larger, poster-sized image.
PhotoMozaix combine hundreds of tiny images to create one larger, poster-sized image.

Splurge on a gift for your graduate with a storytelling video or PhotoMozaix from Create-A-Video.  “Spring is one of the busiest times of year for Create A Video,” says Owner Dave Martinson.  “Graduations for colleges and high schools are one of the reasons. Graduation is a big milestone because it represents the beginning of a new phase in the graduate’s life. It also is a time to reflect on their lives up to this milestone moment.”

A storytelling video made with photos of the graduate from the time they came into this world through now, highlighting the stepping stones that led to this moment in their lives, is a treasured keepsake.  Create-A-Video puts these photos to music with special effects and transitions, resulting in a heartwarming story about the graduate and a great gift not only for grads but parents and grandparents as well.  Memory Keepsake videos start at just $29.95 for a 30-picture DVD.  Visit for more information.

Create-A-Video can also produce a special 20×30 poster-size storytelling gift that creates an image of the graduate using all the photos that were used in the video that was created. Called “PhotoMozaix,” it’s a large image created from a collection of tiny photos.  PhotoMozaix are also available independent of storytelling videos for $59.95; added charges apply for additional prints or scanning of physical photos.  Learn more and order your PhotoMozaix print at  

Share this:

Previous articleAdoptable Pet of the Week – Rocco
Next articleFifth Annual Rodeo Returns To Mint Hill
Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: