Coarse graining techniques offer a promising alternative to large-scale simulations of complex dynamical systems, as long as the coarse-grained system is truly representative of the initial one. Here, we investigate how the dynamical properties of oscillator networks are affected when some nodes are merged together to form a coarse-grained network. Moreover, we show that there exists a way of grouping nodes preserving as much as possible some crucial aspects of the network dynamics. This coarse graining approach provides a useful method to simplify complex oscillator networks, and more generally, networks whose dynamics involves a Laplacian matrix.