Graduation is not the end, rather it is the beginning – Orrin Hatch
And here we are at the beginning of yet another graduation season. Any parent who has a high school or college graduate in 2015 has already had thoughts of graduation run through his or her mind. To throw a party or not to throw a party? That is the question.
To throw a party, one must decide how much he or she is willing to spend or how much a graduation party should cost. The food will more than likely eat up (no pun intended) over 50 percent of the budget. And then beverages–whether you do alcohol for adults or just soft drinks, they add to the cost. Invitations can be a minimal expense, or they can be as elaborate as you would like them to be. My son’s high school grad party card was simple. He really wanted nothing more.
We took one of his graduation pictures and had a 5×7 color card/invite made at Costco. I think 100 cards cost me approximately $30. My daughter’s card was a little more involved and cost much more. We had a tri-folded card with a baby picture on the front and when you opened it up, her graduation picture was in the center. The two flaps had the party info printed on them. These days, the main expense for invites is the postage involved in mailing them out. Decorations for the party are essentials that help make the occasion a success. Balloons and confetti can be simple and festive. Or you can create a themed party that can cost so much more when you tie in all the aspects of your theme to food, beverages, invites, favors, etc.
My advice: Keep it simple and dare to be different, but never lose sight of who the party is for. Most boys, like my son, couldn’t care less about all the frills or themes of the event. In fact, my son was not all that happy to be the center of attention. He is graduating with his Masters in just a few short weeks, and although his mother would love nothing more than to throw another party, he is just lukewarm about the idea. It’s more about his accomplishment for me and not so much about the gifts or anything else. Girls tend to be a little more invested in the party themes and festivities. My daughter was all about it and wanted to be involved in many aspects of the planning.
Whatever your family decides, the best advice I can share is always have conversation about a Weather Plan B if your event is planned for the outdoors. The more prepared you are for inclement weather, the less stressed you will be when you have to flip the switch from Plan A to Plan B. Planning to keep the food in your home or garage as opposed to outside under a tent will take some stress off. If your party is planned for indoors, having throw rugs near all the entrances will help keep your carpet and floors from becoming trashed or slippery.
Attached is a Graduation Checklist I have put together for your review. Whether you keep it simple or add some of the ideas from this list to make it more elaborate, enjoy your day and plan to have someone help you with food and beverage refills. This way, you can enjoy your company.
High School Graduation Checklist
As the season approaches, here are some things to think about and a timeline for your reference.
Invitations/thank-you cards/return address labels/stamps/save-the-date cards
Graduation gift box
Plates, napkins, silverware, cups
Sign in board or book
Décor signs for buffet tables
Graduation scrapbooks/photo posters/photo boards/slideshow
Easels for senior pictures
Gifts & cards for graduate and friends
6 Months Before Graduation Party – January
Select a place and book it (home, restaurant or facility)
If home, check for repairs, upgrade paint, etc.
Select date, time and duration of party
Begin an invite list
Look for pictures for picture boards
Start assembling scrapbooks and collecting memorabilia
Set a budget
Decide if you want music/band
Reserve tents, tables, chairs and linen if home party
Decide what kind of food you would like to serve
Contact Nino Salvaggio’s Party Planner
8 – 10 Weeks Before – March/April
Order invitations – include RSVP date/order thank-you cards
Purchase decorations & other supplies
Purchase plates, napkins, silverware & cups (double fork count for dessert)
Order specialty napkins, etc.
Finish guest list and addresses
Buy stamps for invitations and thank-you cards
Make a list of guests from out of town/reserve hotel accommodations
Purchase graduation cards for graduate and friends
Finish scrapbooks & photo boards
Call Nino Salvaggio’s to place your beverage order
3-4 Weeks Before – May
If house party, get lawn and yard ready
Plan for party outfits
Buy batteries for camera
Call Nino Salvaggio’s to order your cake & pastries
Week of Party – June
Gather coolers, crock pots, etc.
Confirm rental equipment and deliveries
Shop for last-minute supplies
Call Nino Salvaggio’s to order flowers and balloons
Day Before Graduation Party
Set up tables & decorate
Set out scrapbooks and photo boards (if they are going indoors)
Gather coolers and label with products to go inside them
Get trash cans and recyclable containers ready with signs
Day of Graduation Party
Pick up cake
Pick up flowers and balloons
Pick up ice for coolers
Put up signs, banners, photo boards
Take pets to a neighbor’s house
Open the door for Nino Salvaggio’s delivery to bring in food