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Who to Invite?

Talk to your graduate! Make sure you agree on who to invite. They will want to invite their friends, but a graduation party is also about celebrating the passage to “adulthood” so encourage them to invite adults too.

  • Look at your holiday card list. It’s an easy place to start. Take off people you don’t consider appropriate. Send invitations to the rest.
  • Family, of course! Add a short handwritten note to printed invitations.
  • Friends of the graduate. High school grads typically invite their friends via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This is kind of scary considering you have no idea how many kids will come! But don’t worry. They tend to travel in packs. They will arrive in large groups, drink all your water & pop, and barely eat a thing. Some kids may decide to hand out printed invitations. Talk to your grad about this. It may mean you need more printed invitations.
  • Graduate’s friends’ parents … especially the fun ones! Make sure you address the graduation invitations with the friend’s name as well their parents’ names or there may be some confusion over who is invited.
  • Neighbors … we don’t like to snub anyone in our neighborhoods.
  • Teachers and coaches … which ones really made an impression? Think back to middle and elementary school. These invitations should be mailed or hand delivered by the grad.
  • Graduate’s coworkers.  Don’t forget to ask for the day off. We heard of one party where the grad couldn’t come because he had to work!
  • Friends of the family … especially ones that know the grad!

Check out our invitation options: http://www.graduationparty.com/graduation-invitations.htm

Centerpiece Idea for the Book Worm



centerpiece 2Does your graduate love to read? A proud mom of an avid reader celebrated her obsession with these clever, yet simple, centerpieces. She simply gathered up her daughters favorite novels and tied them up with a thick twine and placed them on the table with a couple of colorful objects.

You could consider putting a different theme on each table or gathering the books based on their colors.

They spark conversation and share your graduates personality without too much fuss.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Buffet

Gourmet pb&j

Does your graduate love peanut butter and jelly? This creative mom set up a selection of gourmet peanut butter and jelly/jams. Each one was labeled and small pieces of fresh bread allowed guests to create a few different combinations. The white chocolate peanut butter was the big hit. They kept the bread fresh by keeping it in ziplock bags and refilling the basket as needed.

Planning a party for twins

Buy 2 identical cakes for your twins.

Buy 2 identical cakes for your twins.

If you are planning a graduation party for twins you will want to highlight their unique personalities, but be sure to balance the presentation so each one gets the same attention.

I helped my sister plan her twin’s graduation party and it was lots of fun to spend time with them and see all of their baby pictures. They are very different from each other so it was interesting. They invited their 2 different groups of friends. We were worried that they wouldn’t mingle well, but it was not an issue at all. All the guests know it is a special day for both twins and graduation parties bring out the best in the graduates.

We avoided bringing out the awards and trophies to keep them both comfortable. At the party the graduates got along better than ever.

Spend some time with your Girlfriends

If your like me you have friends who’s children are graduating too. Consider hosting a ladies night to share ideas about your graduation parties. Even if your students aren’t best friends anymore you can still help each other with your parties. Here are a few things you can talk about:

Date and location of your party. Don’t plan them on the same day if you are not cohosting. In our town there is one popular venue. Three families had their parties there on the same weekend and left all their décor for the next group. Make sure you have a plan for who is bringing everything home after the last party.

Your plans to make a photo board. We had several photo board making parties in my basement. Each mom took a corner of the ping pong table, counter, folding table and we helped each other decide what photos to include on their board. One of the mom’s had access to die-cutting equipment at her school and we all wrote down what we wanted our boards to say. Congrats! Charlie. I bought a ream of paper in our school colors and she cut out letters for everyone’s boards.

Decorations you might share. We found some adorable mason jars and one of the mom’s made mortarboard hats to use as tops. We purchased battery mini-lights and shared these at our parties. Some of us who’s parties were on the same weekend shared rental tables, table clothes and balloons.

We agreed to give our students the same gift.

Candy Bar

Glass jars borrowed from friends with lots of kid favorites

Glass jars with lots of kid favorites

My friend put together this kid-pleasing candy bar for her son’s graduation party.

The plastic college cups were ordered online from her son’s new college and he selected his favorite candy. To save money, buy the candy in bulk or when it goes on sale. Select your grad’s favorite candy or buy candy in your grad’s college or high school colors.

My friend already owned these glass jars. If you don’t have your own, any large glass or plastic containers will do. Reach out to your friends to borrow what you can. The jars don’t have to match! We’ve seen bowls, wide-mouthed bottles, apothecary jars, food jars … you name it.

Candy bars are an inexpensive feature to add to your graduation party. If you’re looking for one thing to add wow or pizzazz, this might be the thing.

Don’t Forget the Guest of Honor!

My Little Angel 6 years ago!

My Little Angel 6 years ago!

My son and I have already started bumping heads on this party planning! He is no longer the sweet little guy in this photo.

Let’s stop and think. Who are you doing this for? Hopefully your interest in planning a graduation party is to celebrate this major milestone in your son or daughter’s life. Your graduate will look back on this time as possibly the happiest time in their life.

Since graduation is a monumental experience for your graduate, make them the center of attention – the Guest of Honor.

If you lose sight of this as you plan for their party, you may find yourself screaming “you never appreciate the things I do for you!”. Let your graduate make choices right up front.

Begin by asking them:

“What kind of graduation celebration do you have in mind?”

“Shall we invite just our close relatives and a few friends, or do you want a huge party?”

“Would you like to have a joint party with a friend or neighbor?”

“Do you have any ideas for a theme?”

“What kind of food would you like to serve?”

“Would you like to select photos and items to display?”

Your grad may sigh or roll their eyes or give you the standard “I don’t know” answer, but at least you’ve asked and given them the opportunity to weigh in. If they do give you some ideas, try to make them work :-). Pizza may not be your first choice but when you start researching you may find there are some fun options – a portable pizza oven, a pizza truck, pizza caterers, gourmet pizzas … who knows what you’ll discover.


Dare to be Different – Do What You Do Best

Dare to be different

You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to create an interesting and memorable event. Whether you are striving for a big crowd with dancing and laughter or a quieter, more dignified event, take the time to plan ahead and be creative.

Hire an Ice Cream Truck!

Hire an Ice Cream Truck!

Let your party reflect your graduate and dare to be different. Whatever you do, don’t feel compelled to keep up with the your friends and neighbors or the Jones’s. Again, it’s your graduate’s party. Create an event they will remember fondly. What do they want?

For some inspiration visit our website: http://www.graduationparty.com/graduation-party-themes.htm

Do what you do best!
Think about what you do well. If you and your graduate really like entertainment, focus on that. People will remember a live band more than your potato salad.  If cooking is your forte, concentrate on a menu that includes some memorable items.  If decorating and fun games turn you on, go for it! You can’t do it all, so do what you do best and what the graduate wants.

Reaching out to Family – Save the Date!

My helpers!

My helpers!

As soon as you’ve picked your date, let out-of-town family and friends know so they can plan a trip. Send an email or call them. Let them know that you will follow up with a formal invitation closer to the date.

Decide ahead of time if you are going to invite people to stay in your home and who gets first dibs. Contact your first choice ahead of time to invite them, even before you mail an invitation. If you have room in your home and your heart for more, contact the runner up as well. Keep in mind that your graduate is going to have a lot of exciting activities going on, so don’t expect them to spend the whole week sitting home with grandma.

Once you have your house guests lined up, don’t hesitate to recommend a nearby hotel to other out-of-town guests and provide a phone number for them to make their own reservations. This way polite people will not ask if they can stay at your house, and you’ll be prepared to explain that there is no room at your inn.

Hiring a caterer

My party planning continues. My son and his buddy really want to have Raising Cane’s cater their graduation party. We only have one in our whole metro area and it is a real hot spot for the college kids. We raising-canes-chicken-fingershad them cater our older children’s’ grad parties so I know they are great! They will bring their deep fryers to my yard and deliver hot chicken fingers and fries right to my serving table. It sure saves me a lot of time and stress over what to make and how to store it. I like the idea of serving something different.

I’ve contacted them and have pricing. They’ve put my date on their catering calendar. I’ve set up a reminder to contact them again in May to confirm our date and menu. If you are thinking of hiring a caterer here is my checklist.

Caterer Checklist

  • What are their specialties? Do they have a menu you can review?
  • What serving equipment do they supply? (platters, chaffing dishes, serving spoons, tongs, plates, silverware)
  • Do they provide or rent any extras? (e.g.: centerpieces, candles, decorations, props).
  • How do they bill? Insist on a written estimate and breakdown of all costs. Ask to see a sample invoice so you know what to expect.
  • Is there a separate delivery charge?
  • What is their policy for quantities, can you return anything?
  • How much space do they need to set up and what do you need to provide for them?
  • Can they provide you with references?
  • How do they figure portion sizes?
  • How many people will staff your event?
  • Does their staff serve beverages?
  • If they are cooking onsite do they need power?
  • Does their staff clean up during and after the party? What is included in this clean-up service?

Many local restaurants provide catering as part of their services. Some options include picking up the food yourself, delivery (hot or cold), delivery with set-up, and delivery with full service staffing.

What are your suggestions?