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Cohosting a Grad Party

We have decided to cohost our son’s graduation party with another family. We met yesterday to discuss the plans.

Does your graduate have friends or relatives who are also graduating? Perhaps two or three families could get together and host one large party. Joint parties take some coordinating, but sharing in the shopping, food preparation and expenses will likely be worth the effort.

Charlie and NickBefore you commit discuss the following key elements with the other parents and make sure you have consensus:


· General budget ideas ($300 – $700 per family?)


· Location options


· Date and time


· How many people will each family invite and who will organize the invitation production?


· Menu—general idea of what to serve


· Beverages –serve non-alcoholic beverages only?


Once you agree, keep the following tips in mind: Communication is key!  


  • Divvy up responsibilities and put them in writing
  • Invitation lists: will each person invite the same number? Common friends vs. family specific? Each family can be responsible for mailing their own invitations, but they need to commit to a number of invites for the order.
  • Just kids, or are neighbors and family welcome?
  • Who will design the invitation? Graduate’s photos?
  • Purchasing decisions: Do your research and get back together to make decisions, or agree to a limit.
  • Avoid last minute additions of expensive food or entertainment! This is when arguments occur.
  • Treat graduates equally, same cake, same amount of space for tribute boards, photographs, etc.
  • Share the workload, unless one parent wants to do more of the shopping or preparations.
  • Discuss behavior with kids ahead of time, when they are expected to help with set up and clean up. How to great their guests. What to wear.
  • All families should help with picking up things and set up.










Let’s Get This Party Planning Started!

I made a promise to myself to get started on my son’s graduation party planning as soon as the new year begins. Charlie is my youngest child and will be the last to graduate in our large extended family. We met today to discuss his ideas for the graduation party. While I really wanted to have the party before the actual graduation he would like to finish his lacrosse season, graduate before the party and select a date so our out-of-town family can come.

My Baby, Charlie

This will put our party right in the middle of the busiest party period – the two weekends after graduation. The pressure is on to plan something really exciting to cap off an incredible four years of high school.

If you want a great turn out I  recommend having your party before graduation. People are excited to attend and are not exhausted from going to so many. You also have a much better chance with caterers and rental companies if you plan a celebration in May instead of June. However, look out for Memorial Day and my favorite, Mother’s Day. The parties that are held in May, before Memorial Day, usually get the best turn-out.

Erin’s Graduation Poster Boards

Graduation Poster Boards

Graduation Poster Boards

These poster boards are casual in that the unmatted photos are placed on the boards in a haphazard, crooked way with some photos overlapping others. The boards are dressed up with die cut words & letters at the top. Most scrapbooking stores will let you use their die cuts if you buy the cardstock there. They all have letter die cuts and many have graduation and/or congratulatory messages. The salespeople at the store will help you if you haven’t used die cuts before.

For these die cut letters & words, two sets were cut. One in gold and one in maroon which were the colors of the grad’s college. The maroon letters were placed on the boards first. The gold letters were then placed on top, shifted a little so some of the maroon showed through on the left hand side and top of each letter or word, creating a shadow effect.

The photos were placed on the boards in a chronological order with baby pictures on the right hand side and graduation pictures on the left.

Graduation Cake Pops (& Gluten Free Graduation Cake Pops)

Graduation cakes, graduation cupcakes and now graduation cake pops! The latest trend in graduation desserts.

Graduation Cake Pops

Graduation Cake Pops

Graduation cake pops are fun and very easy to make! They can be made ahead of time and frozen. They freeze REALLY well.

Some people make them from scratch. Just google “cake pop recipes”. But these are a lot of work.

The cake pops in the picture above were made using a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker. These sell for less than $30 and are available online through websites like Amazon or they may be available at your local department store. The Babycakes Cake Pop Maker comes with recipes for different cake flavors, however, the ones in the picture were made using a gluten free chocolate cake mix from Betty Crocker. You could also use a regular cake mix. The gluten free cake mix is nice because it makes a cake that’s a little denser than a regular cake mix which is great for cake pops.

These cake pops were dipped in melted milk chocolate candy wafers and white candy wafers and were decorated with a variety of sprinkles and chopped peanuts. Some were left plain. A fun idea would be to use sprinkles in your school or college colors. You can buy the wafers for melting online at websites like Amazon or at your local craft supply store (like Michael’s). They come in a variety of colors so you may be able to get these in your school colors too. The cake pops were then frozen until the party. If freezing, then they should be removed from the freezer a couple of hours before party time.

Clay flower pots filled with coffee beans were used to hold the cake pops. The flower pots could be decorated with ribbons or painted. How about stenciling or painting the school mascot on them? Or writing words of wisdom or congratulatory messages? The options are endless.

Graduation Party Candy Bar

Candy Bars are fun, popular, easy and economical.

Graduation Party Candy Bar

Graduation Party Candy Bar

Choose your favorite candy or pick candy in your school or college colors. Some candy ideas include:

Find large clear glass or plastic jars, vases or bowls. Borrow them from your friends or check your local dollar store or craft store. Large pickle jars from restaurants work great! Decorate the jars with bows or keep them plain and simple. Set out large spoons so your guests can scoop unwrapped candy. Put out small plastic bags with ties so your guests will have something to put their candy in. Or they can make a take-away bag if they want to.

If you set up your candy bar by the front door or backyard gate (where your guests will leave) then they’re more likely to create a take-away bag when they go.

Chocolate Fountain

A fun and popular item at graduation parties is a chocolate fountain.

Chocolate Fountain

Chocolate Fountain

You can rent them at your local rental shop or there may even be a chocolate fountain rental business nearby. You can also buy chocolate fountains but they will likely be smaller in size and won’t be as heavy duty as rented ones.

When you rent a chocolate fountain the rental company will often come and set it up and then come back and take it down. So you don’t need to worry about heating the chocolate to right consistency or cleaning up the mess after. The rental compay will do it for you. Rented fountains are usually more expensive but if you’re having a joint party it may be worth the extra cost.

Here are some ideas of food to serve with your chocolate fountain:

  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple cut in chunks
  • Marshmallows
  • Cut up Rice Krispie Squares
  • Vanilla Wafers
  • Potato Chips
  • Pretzel Sticks (thick, 4″ sticks are best)

Some people like to serve cake but the crumbs may clog up the fountain. Store bought fountains are particularly susceptible to clogging.

You should also have short skewers/bamboo sticks for food such as pineapple.

Hockey Sock Graduation Centerpiece

This cute centerpiece is the perfect balance between sportsy and elegant.

Hockey Sock Graduation Centerpiece

Hockey Sock Graduation Centerpiece

Any small potted plant will work. Even potted annuals which you can plant in your garden after. Simply put the potted plant in the hockey sock and set it in the middle of the table. This one was placed on a mirrored tile as an extra touch. It also has a small, plastic hockey stick on the left hand side and a hockey puck at the base. Of course you can use a sock from any sport. School colors are fun.

Individually wrapped candy is sprinkled at the base of this centerpiece as an added treat for guests. Halloween size candy like Hershey’s Minis, Laffy Taffy, and Skittles are good options. Or buy personalized candy bars (minis or regular size) from Shindigz or personalized M&M packs from My M&M’s.

Hockey Skate Graduation Centerpiece

Love this idea for a graduation centerpiece! Hockey skate filled with licorice. New hockey skates are best :-). You can also use figure skates or basketball shoes. Buy licorice in your school or college colors if possible. This school’s colors happened to be red & black. But you can get licorice in other colors too.

Hockey Skate Graduation Centerpiece

Hockey Skate Graduation Centerpiece

To keep the skate upright, use a hockey puck and cut a slit down the middle. If you know someone with a circular saw this would be a good job for them. The slit should be wide enough to hold the blade and it should be at least half or three quarters the depth of the hockey puck.

This skate was lined with colored tissue paper but you could also use a patterned or solid color fabric. Other fun candy like Hershey’s Minis, Sweet Tarts, Laffy Taffy, and Skittles were scattered around the base of the skate. Halloween sized candy is perfect!

Hire the Ice Cream Truck!

This is one of my all-time favorite grad party ideas. Who doesn’t love the ice cream truck? Memories of running to the curb when hearing that little jingle. It’s music to everyone’s ears.

Ice Cream Truck at your graduation party

Hire the Ice Cream Truck

One grad wanted to hang on to that memory one last time before heading off to college so her parents hired the local ice cream truck for her grad party. It came and sat outside their house for the entire party. Anyone wanting an ice cream treat simply had to walk up and order whatever they wanted.

It’s such an easy way to serve for the hosts, too. No worries about keeping the ice cream cold, how much to order, or what to do with the leftovers. They simply paid for whatever was served (at a pre-negotiated rate). So if your grad loves the ice cream truck why not consider this fun idea?!

Using Facebook for Invitations

In a recent GraduationParty.com survey, parents said using social media like Facebook to invite people didn’t work very well since lots of guests who confirmed online ended up being no-shows. Of those parents sending invitations using social media, more than 50% were happy with their ability to control who was invited, but less than 40% felt they had a good idea as to how many people would attend.

One mom said that the the people she mailed paper invitations to attended the party. But for the people invited over Facebook, only about 10% showed up.

Another mom said that her older son graduated back in the days of using the US Mail and handing out invitations in school. This time she used Facebook and it was scary since almost 350 people confirmed they were coming! In the end only 60 kids stopped by.

GraduationParty.com recommends using Facebook and other social media websites as a supplement to mailing or handing out fun, attention-getting invitations to the people on your “A-list”. You shouldn’t rely on online invitations  as your main way to invite people, especially those people you really want to come.

For the people on your main list, paper invitations sent through the mail or delivered personally is still the best way to go.