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Let’s Throw a Graduation Party!

Once the graduation ceremony is over, and the (decorated) grad cap and gown are no longer needed, and the diploma is either in hand or soon to be mailed (remember to frame it)…it’s time to celebrate!

It’s best to make party plans ahead since there’s lots to consider. 

Ryan, a marketing intern at Church Hill Classics, is graduating in June from Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, and plans to attend Virginia Tech in fall 2012. He and his parents are already getting prepared for his upcoming graduation party. His preparations follow…

 

Questions to ask yourself as you prepare for the graduation party…

1. When do I have the graduation party?

2. Where do I want to have the party?
3. Guest list – How many guests do I invite and who?
4. How do I invite friends/relatives?
5. Weather – What if it rains?
6. Food – What to have?
7. Graduation theme - Do I need it?

 

1. When to have the party...The party doesn’t have to be right after the graduation ceremony.  It could be any time that works for you and your guests. 

…I’m having my party early June, which is a few weeks before graduation. We planned it this way because as you get closer to graduation and after graduation, more and more people have their parties. Since, I do not want to have my graduation party the same day as someone else; we planned to have it early. I already know of a few parties that occur on the same day.

 

2. Where to have the party…Do you want it at a park or restaurant?  Or maybe a health club or a hall?  For these types of venues, you’ll need specifics such as the date of the party and how many guests you’re having. If you are going to use your home, you’ll need to decide if you need to rent a tent, tables and chairs, and perhaps even a large coffee machine.

My party is being held at my house; we are setting up a tent in the front of the house. We will set up chairs and tables in the tent so people can eat and relax. Since, I’m having friends over as well; I am going to set up badminton in the back yard. To get the yard and house ready for this occasion, we have recently been doing landscaping. We are also repainting our living room, and doing small things to get the house in order.


3. Who’s coming to the party…Of course school friends and family!  You may also want to invite teachers or professors. Or neighbors. Maybe even family friends. Or friends from your church or synagogue.  The number of guests has an impact on the party including the amount of food needed.  Keep in mind if you can accommodate them all.  If you can’t have everyone at your house at one time, how about an Open House Graduation Party?  Here’s some advice from punchbowl.

There are approximately 80 people coming to the party, including neighbors, family, and friends; some of whom have to travel over a few hours to get to our home. We plan to start the party at 3:30, so those who have to drive a distance can get here on time. Since the party is starting at 3:30, we’re thinking that would mean everyone will get to my house around 4


4. How to get the word out…People still send out invitations via the U.S. Postal Service.  For instance, pear tree shows some nice choices.  Another idea includes making your own invitations and/or personally hand them out to friends. About.com suggested making little “high school diploma” invitations. A calligraphy pen would script the invitation, and then the paper would be rolled up and tied with a colored ribbon.

Is it socially acceptable to invite people to a graduation party on Facebook?  Yes, it’s being done – and there are “how to” sites including eHow’s How to Plan an Event on Facebook.com.  

On the other hand, a 2011 press release from GraduationParty.com said invitations via Facebook didn’t work.  The article said that only10% of people invited through Facebook actually attended the party, whereas those given paper invitations showed up. It suggested that Facebook was a good follow up to a paper invitation.

The way I invited people to the party, or should I say how my mom invited people to the party, was by mailing invitations. These invitations had a picture of me, the time, the place, and who to RSVP to.


5. Weather…If the party is going to be held outdoors, be prepared for less than ideal weather.  About.com’s Tip of the Week says, have a backup plan!  That may mean, for a home party, renting a tent in case it rains or moving the party indoors.   Tent companies such as Connecticut Rental Center not only rent tents, but tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware and flatware, karaoke machines, popcorn machines, and even games.

 If it rains, we have the tent, and if worse comes to worse, everybody will have to stay inside. Hopefully we can fit everybody!

The Party Itself!

6. Food…You can have your graduation party catered or take care of the food preparation yourself.

Loved these do-it-yourself ideas from Disney Family Fun:

  • Cheesy Diplomas made from sandwich meat and sliced cheese rolled up to look like a diploma, and scallions to tie it all together!
  • Grad Caps made by putting a miniature peanut butter cup bottom up on a plate, topped with a dollop of frosting or peanut butter, then a chocolate-covered graham cracker is pressed onto!

 
Delish offers ideas for a Graduation Party Buffet: Hold ‘em Puffs, Country Potato Salad,  BBQ Chicken for a Crowd, and Chocolate Cupcakes

Some other goodies:
Jelly Belly jelly beans in your school colors  
Personalized M&M’s – “Congrats” or “You Did It!”

We will be serving the food inside, and from there, people can take it where they want. We will have catered food and it will include American and Italian cuisine. I’m not sure specifically what foods, but it will probably be some sort of pasta and chicken. We will also be serving hors d’oeuvres. 

Unfortunately, when I asked my mom if I could order some food I enjoy, she immediately said, "No one would eat the food if you ordered it."  

I personally like spicy foods such as Buffalo wings or spicy Mexican food, but she doesn't think spicy foods would go over well at the party. On the bright side she said, "Maybe," to the Buffalo Wings!



7. Decorations/Theme…

A “Green” Graduation party was planned by Martha Stewart Living’s editorial food director – Lucinda Scala Quinn when her son recently graduated from The University of Vermont.  (Being environmentally aware may veer you in the direction for a 100% recycled wood diploma frame).

Party themes from Party411.com include: luau, patriotic, fiesta, western, Mardi Gras, casino, Hollywood, decades, music, sports, TV, movies, spring, summer, fall…

From 17 Magazine, there was a suggestion of having your guests wear clothing from the college they are attending.

I’m not having a theme, but my decorations will include balloons, streamers, and maybe a sign or two.


To all the graduates out there, including Ryan, have a great graduation day, and of course, a well-deserved, fun, and well-planned graduation party!

Graduation Celebration

There are many helpful sites online about throwing a graduation party



Other blogs of interest

Get Grads Ready for Graduation and a Celebration! 
Decorating Graduation Caps
The Right Camera for Graduation Day
Graduation – yikes!
Graduation Day: How to Take Better Photos 

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