How many of you will have someone in your house graduating this May or June? Are you planning a party to celebrate the big day? If so, then don't wait to start making plans. As they say, "the early bird gets the worm", and the earlier you start, the easier things will be.
My Graduation Board on Pinterest has the most followers and repins than any of my other boards so go check it out to get your wheels turning.
If there is one thing I have learned from past graduations, it is to plan ahead. Here, I have outlined a few things that should get you started with some great graduation party ideas
- Pick a Date: Pick a date and stick to it! Many families will be having parties too. Don't worry if someone picks the same date as you. There will be conflicts, but it's ok. You can always set a time frame for your party if you know there are other parties on the same day as yours. For instance, yours can run from 2:00pm - 6:00pm or whatever works for you. This avoids people staying late or showing up when you're ready to hit the hay! Many go from party to party on the same day and that is fine. Don't sweat it!
- Pick a Place: Will you have the party at home or somplace else? If you're planning on a hall, park or restaurant then you need to plan this while picking the date.
- Invitations: There are many great places for custom invitations like Etsy, Jostens, Hallmark or Costco. Just do a Google search for "graduation party invitations" and a gazillion places will come up. Most online places will let you customize your invitation. You can look through many different styles, choose colors, fonts and upload a picture of the graduate. Some places even address and send them for you! Of course you can always design your own in photoshop or Picmonkey. Ask around and get feedback. This always helps in finding the right resources. Start planning the guest list too.
- Rentals - tents, tables, chairs. This item is higher on the list because it is one of the more important items to pay attention to NOW! If you plan on a backyard party at home and plan on a large crowd, then you will need tables and chairs. Since you have the date, then you need to call and reserve the rental items you will need. Party Rental places fill up fast in May and June and you might find that they have nothing availble for your date if you wait till later. It is not too soon to put in your rental order now. Again, do a Google search for a few local party rental companies and get some prices. Most places will have everything you need from tents to tables including extra coolers for the drinks and large waste containers for the trash. If you are ordering a tent, they will set it up too. By all means have them deliver! Make less work for yourself. Trust me, you will have plenty to do! Pick what kind of table you want, round or rectangle. Plan on a few extra 8' banquet tables for the food and drinks. I had my youngest manchild's party last year and had 8- 8' tables. 6 were placed under the tent for guests to sit and eat at and 2 more were used side by side (16') for the food. Consider where you want the drinks to be located and use a table as a makeshift bar. Place it away from the food to create good flow through the party. You don't want a traffic jam because everything is in one area. Consider whether you will be having a tent. Tents are a good option for shade on a sunny day and shelter from rain. You can hope for the best but you can't control Mother Nature!
- Theme: I'm a big fan of themes for parties! It creates a festive atmosphere. It can be as simple as using school colors. This is an easy theme that will create a cohesive look to your party. School colors can be used in tablecloths, centerpieces, plates and cups. Also, the school mascot can add a fun element to your decor. Picking a theme might also help to decide the type of food you want to serve and give a focus to your party.
- Food - This is where we get into the fun stuff! Decide on what type of food you want to serve. Of course, price will come into consideration here too. Will you be making the food or do you plan on hiring a caterer? I have been to graduation parties where ALL the food was catered and I've been to others where the food was homemade. It's a personal preference. If you have family members that will be helping with the food then this might be a great option and will help cut down on costs for the party. On the other hand, hiring a caterer will take a lot of the work from you and leave you more time to enjoy the party. Like I've said, you will have plenty to do that day overseeing the party, so a little help might be welcomed. Grill items like hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken and brats are popular and appeal to a wide audience. Dishes like pulled pork, mac and cheese, coleslaw, baked beans and cold salads are good backyard crowd pleasers also. Other ideas that can add a little fun and something different to your party are ice cream bars, candy bars, and even food trucks! Ice cream will melt sitting outside no matter how much ice you have in the cooler and it can get quite messy. How fun would it be to have an ice cream truck for your guests to pick out their favorites? Food trucks are a big deal these days in catering. Look for local food trucks in your area that you can rent out for a few hours. They will come with everything on hand and it can add a fun element to your party. Here is a great article on hosting a Food Truck Catered Party. The possibilities are endless, so, sit down with your graduate and talk about the kind of food you want to serve and come up with a menu. It will help to keep you focused. Of course no graduation party wouold be complete without a special cake and again you are only limited by your imagination. There are many talented bakers with home based businesses who can create something special and have many great ideas on design they can share with you. Cupcakes and cakepops are also very popular and can double as fun party favors. Ask friends who they have used for their parties and you will be sure to end up with a list of reliable sources.
- Decorations - Ok. You've decided on the date and the invitations and you have a theme and the food you will serve. This is where you get to play and put you imagination to work. Places like Party City usually have supplies in many colors and lots of graduation decor to personalize your party. You can print the graduates name and graduation date on napkins or personalize water bottles with wraps. Check out the many party planning websites on Etsy where you can purchase and download a complete gradution theme from water bottle wrappers to cupcake toppers! Don't forget to put together a playlist to set the mood for the party or consider hiring a DJ or band.
Do you have any tried and true methods for a fuss free day? I'd love to heare from you!