How to dress up a buffet table with cheap graduation centerpieces? It's so easy!
It's a good idea to have the buffet line run along one side of the buffet table rather than both sides. This means you can use the back of the buffet table, away from the food, for some decoration.
Arrange a decorative runner along the back of the buffet table. It doesn't need to be an actual runner but just any piece of decorative fabric will do - scour your basement or attic for old bedsheets or fabric shower curtains. You can also get a remnant of fabric from the fabric store for just a few dollars. Fold it neatly so that it's thin enough to leave room for the food. Or, use an arrangement of decorative scrapbook paper arranged randomly along the back of the table.
Arrange photos of the graduate along this runner. Use ones from their childhood until recently. Different frame heights and materials are good - silver, gold, wood, whatever you have. Many also prefer to arrange them in chronological order so everyone can see how the graduate has changed over the years.
To dress up these types of cheap graduation centerpieces, add some vases of flowers, glass jars tied with ribbon, small votive candles, paper fans, or anything else that catches your eye. You might also have one large vase in the middle of the table to anchor your items. Look around your house for decorative items you can use - you probably already have vases, decorative clocks, bowls, or other items you can bring to the party to use.
Another addition to this type of table is to run off some favorite poems or sayings on paper and putting these in frames as well. Stagger these in with the photos; they give the guests something to look at and read while they wait for the line to move along.
Depending upon your budget for your cheap graduation centerpieces, you can also sprinkle some confetti under and around the photos and loop some large, decorative ribbon in and around them as well. Make sure your ribbon and confetti coordinate with the runner, but if your runner is very decorative these items might just be too much.