Ever watch those shows on TV that document kids preparing for the ultimate birthday party, like MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen? They always get new clothes, an amazing venue, a band, catered meals and almost always, a brand-new car. For most of us, that kind of party is a little out of reach. Luckily, however, good times don’t have to cost a lot of money! The key to a great GRADUATION party is to relax and celebrate a new graduate’s achievements.
Here are some simple steps to make your graduation party a big hit!
1.) Decide on a date and time. Although this seems a little obvious, sometimes it can be tricky to pick a date after graduation that doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s parties, holidays, or birthdays. To save money and share the planning workload, consider sharing a party with your graduate’s best friend or a family member! Two parties in one means double the fun!
2.) Make a budget—and stick to it.
Decide how much you can realistically afford to spend and ask for help. Most people don’t mind bringing a dish or lending a hand with decorations or music. Call in all favors! There are also plenty of websites available to help you out with DIY decorating. Check out our graduation party board on Pinterest for some great ideas!
3.) Choose a great location. Budget will certainly dictate where you can afford to have the party, but fortunately, many graduations occur in late Spring, which is a wonderful time to gather in a backyard or local park. Renting a party tent for your backyard is an ideal way to transform the space without having to pay to rent a whole venue!
4.) Entertainment. OK, so the graduate should be the center of attention on their special day, but most likely there will be groups of people coming together for the first time—family, friends, neighbor. It’s good to provide games or ice breakers to get people mingling. If a pool is available, swimming is a fun way for everyone to get to know each other! Mildly competitive outdoor games, like horseshoes or cornhole, are also a hit at graduation parties.
5.) Make a guest list! It’s tempting to invite anyone & everyone the graduate has ever known. Why not – you’re so proud! Remember, though, when sticking to a budget, you need to pay close attention to how many people will be attendance so you can plan food and supplies accordingly. Nobody wants to show up to find a table full of empty bowls!
6.) Invitations. There are more options than ever available to tech savvy party planners. Many options are free! Http://www.evite.com/ allows you to customize and send an “E-vite” while saving a tree and a stamp! Very affordable! Another great way to make sure people “save the date” is utilizing Facebook invites. Facebook has a private party invite feature (so the invite won’t show up to those who can’t fit on the guest list), and will remind your guests the day of the party so they’re sure to be on time!
7.) Create a menu. Don’t overthink this one! Crowds of hungry people love hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad. Just make sure you consider special diets. (Does your graduate have any vegetarian or vegan friends? Veggie dogs and veggie burgers are delicious and affordable, and you can cook them right alongside the others on the grill!) Of course make sure you have the proper facilities for heating and cooling food too. If you’re a member of a wholesale club like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club, look for specials a few weeks before the big event to stock up and save.
Another great menu idea to give your party a personal touch for your graduate is to have their favorite restaurant cater the party. Depending on the place, this can also be an affordable option that sets your party apart from the standard fare everyone else will be serving! Consider having Indian or Chinese food catered for the party. OR, for a more DIY approach, consider making a custom burrito bar! Just set out bowls of fixings (guacamole, rice, fresh veggies, cheese, beans, meat) and allow guests to create their own custom meal! This is sure to be a crowd pleaser for pickier guests and makes sure everyone gets exactly what they want! This method is sure to set your party apart from the rest!
The main course is important, but don’t forget about dessert!
Cupcakes have long been a perennial favorite at parties because they’re great for serving large groups of people (without having to cut slices for guests or assemble anything!) Take some inspiration from the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and try something a little out of the ordinary – a little Googling will point you in the direction of tons of unique and delicious (and easy!) cupcake recipes sure to inspire the baker in you. Forget plain chocolate and vanilla – why not try eggnog, earl grey, or peach?
8.) Decorations. Don’t be tempted to run to the local party store. Some of the best deals can be found at the dollar store! Other than decorations specifically for graduation, consider decorating using crepe paper in the graduate’s school colors. Print out stickers with the school mascot and apply them to plastic cups. Make a gift card for the graduate with tag board and have all the guests sign it with well wishes. You can also create a display of photos of your graduate throughout the years. Consider a slideshow for everyone to watch or use a digital photo frame to show pictures of the graduate, displayed on the food table or some other prominent place! This will certainly be a conversation piece.
Check out our Graduation Pinterest board for lots of other great ideas and inspiration!
9.) Gifting. Consider giving a personalized GRADUATION keepsake. Customized graduation gifts come in many themes and can be hand-personalized with the recipient’s name, graduation date or year, and school name. Graduation ornaments are a cute personal gift that your graduate can take with them wherever life takes them in the future.
Graduation ornaments are not just for high school graduation. Purchase these keepsakes for Preschool/Kindergarten, Middle School, College, Graduate School, Nursing & Medical School, Law School, Pharmacy School, even Veterinary School! The possibilities are endless! These ornaments can also be used as gift tags, which will be especially useful for a party with more than one graduate. Attach a custom gift tag for each graduate to personalize their presents!
Most importantly, graduation parties are a time to celebrate the accomplishments of a recent graduate. Remember to have a great time, don’t stress yourself out, and keep things simple! Planning things in advance will keep you from stressing out the day of the party. Let the good times roll!
If you end up using any of these ideas, or have any great ones of your own, please feel free to let us know on our Facebook page!