Caps, Gowns and Graduation Celebrationsby J. Robbin Yelverton on April 28, 2015 at 9:44 am
Those final exams may not have been taken yet, but thoughts of mortarboards and tassels are already in the minds of seniors everywhere. That means that it will not be too long and graduation parties will be kicking soon.
So let’s get the party started. Here are the basic steps:
Step 1: Pick a Date. Keep in mind all the other grads will be doing the same. Planning around other family events may allow out-of-town guests to “double dip” the trip.
Step 2: Set a Budget. Be realistic; parties can be expensive. Each person invited represents an expense. Outline all the options available in regard to locations, food and beverage, decoration, entertainment and rentals such as tables, chairs, tents, etc. Consider the costs for each of these elements and select based on your abilities.
Step 3: Pick a location. Will it be at home, a public park or a commercial venue? Depending upon which location you select, what will need to be provided? If you pick your home, then you may need additional tables and chairs. A public park will require all the food preparation and service equipment to be brought in. A commercial venue will be more expensive, initially, but they will have all the necessary items from tables and chairs to food service provided. So for each location being considered, map out all the items that will need to be provided, assign costs for each and add it up to see which is the best fit for your budget and needs.
Step 4: Create a Guest List and Mail Invitations. Make a master list of all those you would like to invite. Then based on your budget, determine if the number in question will work. Adjust the list if necessary. If you are mailing an invitation confirm and correct all mailing addresses. Select and order the necessary invitations, and while you are at it, go ahead and get your thank-you cards, too. Be creative with your invitation. It can set the theme of the event.
Step 5: Pick a Theme and Plan Décor. Will it be school colors, a favorite hobby or sport, the college of choice or future occupation? Selecting a theme gives you focus and a goal for making other decisions such as décor, menu and entertainment. Enlist the help of family and friends in assembling any items that work into the theme. School memorabilia, family photos, awards and achievements, uniforms and more can add to the fun. Whether the décor is simply crepe paper and balloons or floral centerpieces and props, this can be the most fun in the whole process of planning the celebration. Don’t forget a guest book or some other way of getting guests to leave comments, best wishes or advice for the future.
Step 6: Plan Menu. Get creative. Keep the menu simple but tasty; many people come to the grad party just for the food. If you are on a strict budget, consider a potluck and ask family members to bring a dish to share … but be specific so that you don’t end up with mostly desserts and very little else. If you are using a professional caterer, discuss your options and what they can do to coordinate with your selected theme.
Step 7: Plan Activities/ Entertainment. Will it be a mix and mingle, or will there be games, activities and music? A friend with a great play list on their iPhone and a simple sound system can go a long way.
Step 8: Make sure your Grad Serves as a Good Host/Hostess. As the guest of honor, it is the grad’s place to serve as host or hostess. The grad should greet all attendees and welcome them. The grad should be gracious, and thank guests for their attendance.
Step 9: Plan for Clean Up. Every party must end. Be prepared for that by making sure that you have plenty of supplies such as garbage bags, boxes and clean up supplies. This is especially true if the party has taken place in a public park or other outdoor venue.
Step 10: Send out thank-you notes. Finally, get “old school” quick. The grad must follow-up with a heartfelt, handwritten thank-you card to all those who attended. The grad’s courtesy will be remembered.
Follow these steps and with the talents of your local florist, create a graduation party to remember for years to come.