Graduation season means graduation parties to celebrate these life milestones and accomplishments. They often mark the end of your educational path and the start of your career and adulthood. Whether you’re celebrating a high school graduation, college graduation or other achievement, the next question is how to throw the perfect graduation party. Here are seven tips for throwing the perfect shindig for the new graduate.
Pick the Right Date
Picking the right date is essential. You need to pick a graduation party date that doesn’t conflict with studying for final exams or the school’s own graduation ceremony. Verify the dates for the school graduation, make up exams and any other “can’t miss” events before scheduling the graduation party. Ideally, you should select several dates and times that work before you lock down a specific time frame. The last thing you need is planning a party that interferes with finals and prevents their graduation.
Pick the Right Crowd
This can be difficult for parents who may not know all the friends your family member wants to attend the graduation party. And friends may not have contact information for family members who want to attend a graduation party. Once you have a list of who you want to invite, contact them before you create a formal invitation using a graduation announcement template. Determine the availability for those who are “must haves” for the event, and adjust the time frame for the party if someone your graduate wants to attend can’t otherwise make it.
At this stage, you’re also deciding how many people to invite to the event. This will determine how large the venue needs to be for the graduation party. Some people plan a longer time period for the party with family attending half and friends attending the other half. This reduces the size of the venue, but complicates the scheduling.
Pick the Location
If you’re going to hold the event at your home, decide how many people it can comfortably host for a party. Remember that many attendees may want to bring friends or partners, so decide now, before you send out invitations, if the invitation is only for one or “attendee plus one”. The last thing you want to do is hold an overcrowded party in your home you can’t control or keep comfortable. In some jurisdictions, very large outdoor parties need a permit, even if held in your backyard. Find out if you need a permit to avoid fines or disruptions during the event.
If you need to host a larger party than your home can hold, determine if you’ll hold the party at a hotel, banquet hall or someone else’s house. Note that hotels, churches and other facilities are often available for large parties and have kitchens and lots of parking, too.
Use a graduation announcement template to create a formal invitation to the graduation party. Verify the details such as date, time and location. By using a formal invitation to notify people of the official party information, you eliminate confusion as to what is officially set since it is so different from the earlier scheduling discussions.
When you set an official time frame for the party, it is common to give a two to four hour spread so people can come and go. Inform those invited when the actual cake and gifts are given so they know when they actually have to be there for the most important part. You don’t want someone coming late on the assumption the best will be left until last, and if they know that the critical part is at a specific time, they’ll be able to plan to leave after that point for a subsequent commitment.
Personalise the Party
The party should be personalised to celebrate the graduate. Photos of the graduate as they progressed through their academic career are suitable. Scrapbooks are good if your event is attended mostly by family. Mementos are a better choice if most attendees are friends. You can create personalised memories by putting disposable cameras around the party to encourage taking pictures that you’ll be able to develop later. Some people rent photo booths for the party to encourage people to take pictures of themselves alone or in groups.
Stock the Kitchen
Offer a variety of drinks for the attendees. Have energy drinks, flavoured waters and other soft drinks on hand and alcohol if it is a college or university graduation. Provide a mix of snacks that anyone can eat, regardless of food allergies or dietary preferences. Always provide snacks in addition to a cake, because people will want to snack before they eat the cake or after. Be careful about your selection of finger foods; the last thing your guests need is food poisoning from the meat and cheese tray being left out too long during the party. Ensure that you have enough food on hand for everyone; it is better to have leftovers than hungry guests.
If you don’t have the time to prepare the party itself and the food, you could hire a caterer for specific items like a cake or fruit tray or outsource all of the food to a caterer. Don’t forget the option of picking up cheap sandwich trays and finger food trays at the local cash and carries, provided you can keep everything cold before the party.
The best birthday parties have activities beyond eating cake and handing out gifts. The same is true for graduation parties. Most graduates are too old to do arts and crafts, but arranging games, dancing, or memory sharing are all options. You may choose to have a ceremony similar to the “handing of the rope” that radio show host Dave Ramsey discusses; he said a parent controls and manages the child via a rope, letting it out as they demonstrate trust and reining it in when they make bad decisions. With his children, he gave them a literal, decorated rope at the graduation party to symbolise letting them go. They are free to make their own decisions, though they are free to come home when times get tough.
If you want to throw the perfect party, keep these tips in mind.
*This is a collaborative post