High school graduation season is upon us and if you are anything like me, you’ll want this event to be as perfect as can be. Last year our oldest graduated from high school and I was amazed at what a meaningful time it was not just for him for for our entire family as well. To celebrate this special time in our son’s life, we hosted a graduation party for family and our very closest friends. The kickoff to a whirlwind graduation weekend that included Baccalaureate and his actual graduation too, my house was full of activity, hosting meals and having so very much fun. It was a wonderful 72 hours that I wish we could freeze in time.
To know me is to know I love to host a fabulous party where everyone, including me, has a great time. Because we had family from out of town and dear friends gathered too, it was key for me to make sure that things were well planned so my hostess duties would be seamless while I enjoyed the fun. Here are my tips for a great high school graduation party.
Typically sent about two weeks before your event, graduation parties can be tricky to schedule because not only is your child graduating but all their friends are too. So pick what’s best for your family and go from there. For us it was hosting the party on the Saturday night before graduation once everyone could come in town. You can choose to make the invite as formal or casual as you wish but my first suggestion is to ask your senior what he or she really wants. Our son wanted to do a simple Evite which was perfectly fine with me. And just yesterday I received a lovely combined graduation announcement and invitation to a brunch to follow and it was perfect.
A graduation party playlist is always fun to create and easily shared by hooking up your iPod or iPhone and letting the tunes roll. Keep it upbeat because you’ll have no trouble being emotional all on your own and consider a mix of music that will appeal to all age groups.
Our son doesn’t like to draw a lot of attention to himself so he was not all in for tons of decorative chaos. So we went with his school colors for all the paper products and table clothes to anchor the graduation theme, added balloons in the same, and used graduation themed table confetti on the serving stations
Our son loves to cookout so that was what he asked for his graduation party dinner. He asked for all his favorite foods and we were happy to meet those requests. Of course that put my husband on the grill for awhile but with a fun selection of yard games he had plenty of guests to keep him company while he cooked. Because much of what he wanted was salad based, I was able to make many of the items a day or two ahead of time which made final preparations a breeze. We took over our dining room to create a beautiful, casual buffet of food that was easily served and worthy of seconds. I had a variety of dips out for everyone to enjoy while the chef cooked and was amazed at how quickly it all went ~ it always does!
This is where you get to show that school spirit! We served cupcakes in school colors with the year on display and this stand served as table decor in the kitchen where we knew everyone would linger anyway. We also had a graduation cake with the traditional “Congratulations” message, and one of the guests brought graduation cap cake pops too. I always offer fruit for anyone who does not favor sweets and the skewers were a hit too.
Thanks to our casual theme we set up coolers on the deck with waters and soda. But inside I added a lemonade stand with straws in school colors and including tie on labels that you could personalize with chalk. Served in glass mason jars, I used cute cupcake liners in place of the metal tops. They were a huge hit no matter if you chose lemonade or put another beverage in its place.
Childhood Picture Display
In all my research, having baby pictures on display was a constant theme. Because we have a handful of family portraits in the house I didn’t feel the need to pull out all the stops. But I did love the idea of having pictures from birthdays displayed. One idea I fell in love with was hanging a picture from every birthday on a balloon but my boy was having none of that. Something far more low-key was barely agreed to. So our ottoman has a serving tray on it that usually holds the daily newspaper. For the party I made a collage of pictures of birthdays over the years to show our son throughout his life. It was a fantastic conversation piece that let me share his baby pictures without embarrassing him too much.
Senior Picture Display
Pick a nice visible location to display these cherished momentos. If you can, choose shots that you do not include in the graduation announcement to just give another glimpse of the amazing young adult your child has become. If your senior participated in a sport or special event where seniors were recognized with photos or other memorabilia be sure to display that too. Our son had both his senior banner that hung at the baseball field all season and his photo jersey that senior parents make to display at the field for senior night. Everyone loved seeing them both.
I fell in love with this idea when I saw the cards on the website where we purchased graduation announcements. I had custom cards made in school colors (of course) with the purpose of enabling our guests to write a note of encouragement to our son. Next to this I included a bucket for guests to place cards they may have brought along as well. And I also included a small bucket with wallet sized graduation pictures for everyone to take home too.
Because our party was a cook out theme, it was easy to fill the yard with corn hole, croquet, have a football to toss, and have kids on the basketball hoop. No matter where you have your party, consider making sure you’ve got games for kids of all ages to play. The best part about this is how the grown ups and kids team up and play together.
Pictures and Video
If you have a family member who loves to take pictures and video, its always a blessing to let them do the shooting while you do the hosting. But if that’s not the case, be mindful of taking key shots like your senior with his or her friends if they are present, with each family unit that is present, and lots of pictures with his or her immediate family too. One of my favorite series from this night was making sure to take a picture of our son with every family as they left. So no matter if it was our family or our friends who we love like family, he has a picture with each and every one of them to cherish forever.
No matter what you do, remember that this party is a celebration and if you gather family and close friends, you can’t go wrong by surrounding your child with all that love and fellowship. Tell me…
What is your best graduation party tip?
If you have stumbled on this post and are just entering your child’s senior year of high school, check out A Mom’s Guide to Senior Year for all kinds of tips to help you get and stay organized along the way. Check out our Graduation Pinterest Board where you’ll find all kinds of pins from around the web. Thanks so much for stopping by ~ we’ll see you next time!