High School Graduation – Costs, Trends, and Marketing Opportunities


Graduating from high school is a milestone in a person’s life. Not only does it signify the completion of several years of education, but it is also a transition from childhood to adulthood.

Kids are moving into the next phase of their life, whether it be furthering their education, learning a trade or securing a full-time employment. It is cause for celebration.

As the parent of a graduating senior, my brain is preoccupied with graduation events and the ensuing celebration – the graduation party. My project management skills are in high gear with planning and preparations and my checking account is getting quite a workout as well. This got me thinking about graduation from a business and marketing perspective. How much money does everyone spend on graduation? And, when did this turn into such an elaborate event?

I fired up the Google machine to do some research. Here is what I found regarding typical costs:

  • Graduation announcements – $20 – $200
  • Cap and gown – $20 – $55
  • Senior portraits – $100 – $3,000
  • Yearbooks – $30 – $90
  • Graduation party – $200 – $3,000+

Just why have graduation parties become so expensive? Here is a little insight:


Then – parent’s house or backyard
Now – parent’s house or backyard and rented spaces for events/receptions


Then – mowing the lawn and cleaning
Now – mowing the lawn and cleaning. Updating decks or driveways, remodeling rooms or other significant home improvement projects.


Then – homemade food prepared and served by family members
Now – catered food and specialty food vendors


Then – food and disposable plates and utensils
Now – Elaborate, themed party decorations. Pictures and custom printed items.


Then – conversation
Now – bands or DJs, photo booths and other specialty entertainment

If you are a marketer, don’t overlook graduation as an opportunity to promote your products or services or incorporate it in your marketing message. If you are a parent, well, I’m sorry. And if you are an invited guest, sit back and enjoy the party!



Author Sheryl Doyle

Sheryl is vice president of client services at d.trio.

More posts by Sheryl Doyle

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