One of the most enjoyable times of summer is what people refer to as “graduation party season.” It’s the time of year when graduates can commemorate the last four years with their friends, celebrate their achievements and even pocket some spending money from relatives they never knew they had. From the invitations to the decorations to the cake, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into this festivity that can become overwhelming if not organized appropriately.
Before jumping in, however, it is important to decide what type of party you want, as this will dictate most of the decisions you will make throughout the planning process. Are you looking for the classic backyard barbeque with a big group of people, or a smaller party with just family and a few close friends? What about ditching the party idea all together, and planning a getaway? No matter what your style, however, there are some universal elements to consider when planning your big bash.
Establish a budget:
With all the glitz and glam that can come along with a graduation party, it is easy to get carried away with spending money on decorations and other expenses. The best thing for you to do so that you don’t end up spending on a fortune on this one-day event is to sit down and decide on a financial plan. This is an essential step in the party planning process, as it will dictate most of the decisions made. Discuss how much you want to spend and what you want to spend most of it on. If you are not looking to spend a lot of money, consider having a small gathering with family and a few close friends. This will save you money on renting a venue, catered food and decorations. A good rule of thumb to follow when establishing a budget is to make sure that the money you spend on the party does not exceed the amount of money you receive as gifts from your guests.
Choosing a venue:
There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding where you want to have your party. Whether you’re having the party at home or at another venue, here are some things to take into consideration.
If you’ve decided to have your party at home, there are extra tasks that you need to complete on your own that a venue would otherwise take care of, such as cleaning/setup, seating and food. If you are planning on a lot of guests and you want to have your party outdoors, you will need to rent tables, chairs and tents in order to protect people from the sun and possible rain.
Another really nice option for a home party is to do a small dinner party with your closest friends and family. This cuts costs, keeps the party small and intimate, and is generally low-stress, too.
One of the major benefits of having your party at a venue besides your home is that the staff will do a lot of the work for you, like cooking, setting up, cleaning up and providing seating. When deciding on what kind of venue, consider a place that is centrally located and can comfortably fit all of your guests. Since it will be in the summer time, it would be nice to choose a place that gives guests the options of going outdoors, or has a lot of windows that will let in a lot of natural light and help set the mood. Having your party at a venue other than your home may be less work, but it can also turn out to be more expensive, so make sure to you get quotes from a wide variety of services and determine which would be most cost effective.
The first thing you need to do before making your invitation is to create your guest list. Think about how many people to invite and how to invite them. If you’re having a small party, you’ll want to set a guest list and choose between printed invitations or simple e-vites. If you’re planning a big, grade-wide party, you might want to send printed invitations to guests. Also, be sure to let people know whether or not they can bring a guest.
There are many options available when designing your invitations. You can buy them in a card store, make them yourself at a photo kiosk at your local convenience store, or order them customized from a company.
When sending out your invitations, do it about a month ahead of time so that your guests can plan accordingly.
Pick a convenient date and time:
It’s impossible to choose one that works for each and every one of your guests, but there’s no harm in trying! When picking the date and time for your party, consider what works for other people. Is it a popular vacation time? Is it a holiday weekend when people will have other plans? Also, remember that it is inevitable that your party will most likely overlap with many of your friends, so don’t stress about that too much. Also keep in mind that the weekends before and after graduation weekend are often packed with parties, meaning your guest of honor could have a party the same date! If you are planning on having your party outside, don’t forget to pick a rain date or make alternate indoor plans.
Remember that having your party at home gives you a lot more options of dates and times, while having it at a venue limits availability and causes you to have several back-up dates in case your ideal date and time at the venue is already reserved. If you choose to have your party at a venue, make your reservation 3-4 months in advance.
Food and Drink:
The most important thing to remember when choosing food and beverages is to get what will appeal to the greatest amount of people.
Some other decisions you will have to make are what type of food you want – picnic-style hamburgers and hot dogs? Finger food? a buffet? Are you going to prepare it? Are you going to have it catered? If it’s within your budget and you plan on having a lot of guests, consider having your party catered along with on-site staff management so that you don’t have to worry about refilling dishes and enjoy your party. A standard buffet at a graduation party usually consists of rolls with butter, a garden salad, two to three different kinds of meat, two sides (such as potatoes and some kind of pasta) and a fruit platter.
If you are planning on providing your own food for you event, you need to consider how many people you are cooking for and what would be the most convenient to prepare. The best thing to do when providing your own food is to make simple dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and can easily be replenished such as salads, sandwiches, wraps, pastas, and dips.
As for desserts, cupcakes are increasingly trendy. Cake and cookies are other good choices, too. It’s good to give your guests options. It’s also a good idea to have little snacks at each table, such as M&M’s or chips. A fun dessert option if you are providing your own food is an ice cream sundae bar or a candy buffet.
Drinks are also very important. Definitely have water and different kinds of sodas such as diet and regular cola, sweet drinks like lemonade, and possibly beer and wine coolers for the adults.
Show off your creativity and school spirit by decorating your party with balloons, centerpiece, tablecloths, and even tents featuring your school colors (high school or collegiate, it’s up to you). Many people have display tables highlighting their accomplishments with pictures, trophies, plaques, framed acceptance letters, or other school memorabilia. It’s also popular to have slideshows of pictures and videos of you and your friends throughout the years.
While all of this will surely help get your party started, what’s a celebration without some good music? Most people hire a DJ to ensure good music. Some grad party classics include “Graduation” by Vitamin C, Green Day’s “Good Riddance,” Rembrandt’s “I’ll Be There For You” and Eve 6’s “Here’s To The Night.”
An additional idea is to have a photobooth for your guests so they have their own memories of your party. Our photobooths are 100% customizable and have the ability to print in color and black and white. So your prints can read the “Sarah’s Graduation 5/25/15” and each guest that takes a photo get one! PLUS, you get a scrapbook with all the photos and a USB with all the photos taken so you can print your favorites!
Also with our photobooths, you get a big bin full of silly props! No plain jane photos!
Planning a graduation party? Need help? Plan with ME and we’ll be sure to give you the best party EVER!!!!