Graduation Parties: Parents Paying The Big Bucks

MAPLE GROVE (WCCO) — A recent survey from an Eden Prairie company,, shows families are putting a lot of time and money into throwing graduation parties.

Ginger Venable runs the website and says after a survey of around 700 customers last graduation season, $983 was the average amount spent on graduation parties, with an average of 90 guests.

Her survey also found 67 percent of people hosting parties in their home, and 37 percent reporting the completion of some sort of home improvement project in preparation for the bash.

Those statistics apply to the Johnson family of Maple Grove, whose oldest daughter Mallory is graduating from Maple Grove High School.

“Trying to get the yard ready was my job, my wife did the inside stuff and I think her job was harder than mine,” said father Tom Johnson.

Tom said the family was watching the weather this weekend, and also decided to have the party early, so they could attend other parties during the next few weeks.

“For me, it’s laid back, go with the flow,” said Mallory, who admitted it was more stressful for her parents. “My family, with the whole weather thing, and being the first child to deal with this.”

Venable says many families are also celebrating with less.

“People are co-hosting parties. It is a way to save money and share the expenses,” said Venable. “If you are trying to save money, have the party mid day to avoid dinner and avoid serving alcohol.”

Sarah Kummeth will host a midday party Saturday afternoon. The soon to be Osseo High School graduate chose a coffee and dessert theme, and is making some of her decorations and will also be serving homemade cookies, which she says reflects her personality.

“Coffee is kind of my thing,” said Kummeth, who works at the Dunn Bros. Coffee Shop in Maple Grove. “I didn’t want to get a cake from the bakery and get lemonade and soda because that’s not me at all.”

Venable says that’s the idea. Choose themes or ideas that reflect your graduate, and focus on one special element. She says parents shouldn’t feel like they should do what everyone else does.

“I like the fact people are daring to be different,” said Venable.

  • Down to Earth

    Where we live–in out state Minnesota–everyone has a reception but they are not paying te big bucks! Very simple–many of them not in their home. Of the seven I attended this year–only one served coffee. The others served water, punch, juice and used the class colors but no themes–oh sorry one used John Deere tractors with their color!

  • Time's have changed

    My co-workers is having a bash for his daughter. He also has 8 other graduations to attend on the same day. He said that he will see most of the other people attending his at the other gatherings as well. He also has put in 4 weeks of work getting his place ready for the one day celebration. I told him that when I graduated in the 70’s, their was no such thing as a parental sponsored party and that we did our own celebration with beer kegs in a city park with a thousand other students. He also is on the hook for a $38,000.00 a year cost to send his precious to a private college. I went to St. Paul Vocational for free. I don’t who I feel more sorry for, him or his daughter.

  • Gwen

    Um, when I graduated from high school I got a set of luggage… Best thing my parents ever got me. I am not from the midwest, and have realized that these ‘high school grad parties’ are a tradition only known to this area. Why are people celebrating mediocrity? Isn’t one ‘expected’ to graduate from high school? Parents, save your money and throw a party after your child has accomplished something. Better yet, put the money towards an ‘experience’ like sending your kid to another country for a few weeks to work along side volunteers building a school in a third world counrty.

  • Jeanie

    When I graduated from Wayzata we all had “open houses” which actually meant opening up the garage and setting up tables for people to come enjoy some pop, treats, deli sandwiches. It wasn’t that expensive. It was a nice way for family, friends and well wishers to come and visit. When I gradutate with my MBA next year I plan on doing the same thing. Unless I win the lottery…then it’d be really cool to take people on a charter boat ride on Lake Minnetonka. :-)

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