It’s graduation season! Your babies are growing up and ready to go out in the world and you need to plan a party. We put together a few helpful tips so that you don’t stress out, so that everything goes smoothly and so that the party doesn’t fly by without you enjoying it. Congratulations to all graduates and best of luck!
- Ask the graduate
Pre-planning, meeting expectations and avoiding any misunderstandings. Those are the keys to great communication and a successful outcome for a party (or any event or project!) Have a planning meeting with your graduate and go over their thoughts and wishes. Big party or small? In your yard, at a park or at a restaurant? What foods would they like there? Is it too embarrassing to whip out baby pictures and display them at a life size scale? Go over your expectations as well – they will need to mingle with guests during the event and can’t just sit in the corner on their phone (!), thank you cards will be sent out within two weeks, etc.
- Make the list together
Sit as a family and talk over the invitation list. A great place to start is your Christmas card list (if you keep one). Go over friends from school they would like to invite, think hard about people who have been influential in their lives that you would like to celebrate with. Keep in mind your budget and space limitations.
- Be formal and send invitations (and send them soon!)
Graduation is a big deal and people’s schedules are packed to the brim. A formal invitation sets the tone that your guests are important to you, that the event is special and that you appreciate them. Sending them as soon as possible will allow your guests to get your event on their busy schedules and will allow them time to plan travel if necessary.
- Appeal to all schedules
June and July – the most popular times for graduation parties – are usually the busiest for people and some might have multiple things they need to attend in one day. Consider having the party for a good part of the day (especially if you’re able to do it at your home) and state on the invitations that they can drop by whenever is convenient for them.
- Prepare for conversation
A graduation party is a great opportunity for your son/daughter to have in-person, in-depth conversations with the people who love them. And let’s face it, many teens could use a little boost in their conversation skills! For a couple weeks before the party, use dinner time, driving time or any time that’s convenient to talk about what your guests have been up to lately, what their interests are, a bit of history about them, etc. (i.e. did you know grandpa was a roller skating champion back in the day?) This way, your graduate has something they can bring up when talking with their guests.
- Start the slideshow now
You know how this is going to go. You want to display some adorable shots of when your graduate was younger. You’re going to start looking through photos in old albums, shoeboxes or on your computer and you’re going to get lost in the memories for hours. It’s fun and it’s emotional and it will take time. Start now so that you’re not trying to rush through it in while you’re planning other party logistics later. Take your time and enjoy the memories.
- Buy and plan thank you cards now
Load up on thank you cards, stamps and have an updated list of all of your guests’ addresses. Talk now to your graduate about how to write a heartfelt thank you – there’s nothing more impactful than getting a thank you card that is personalized. Mention the gift they brought and maybe mention something that your graduate will always remember about them and how it made a difference in their life. They’ll treasure it!
- Stock up on to go containers
Next time you’re shopping, grab some extra disposable containers for leftovers, saran wrap and/or aluminum foil. There’s always extra food and having those ready to go at the party will prove to be very handy.
- Keep track of gifts
If you are having your graduate open cards and gifts at the event or after, be sure to document their gifts to they can mention them in thank you cards. Write it all on a separate piece of paper or write it on the back of the cards themselves so it’s easy to track once your graduate is ready to write the cards out.
- Step back and take it all in
Planning a party is hectic and can be a bit stressful. Graduations and knowing your baby is going off to college or a job in a mere couple of months is highly emotional. Many parents will dive into keeping busy at a party so they don’t have to have the emotions wash over them, but be sure to take just a few minutes to pause, take in the party slowly, enjoy having all of the people that you love in one place and keep those memories in your mind so you can revisit them fondly in the future.