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Graduation Season is in full swing! If you have a student graduating, it can be a little overwhelming to pull off a fun party with everything else you have going on. Plus, there are so many parties scheduled it can be hard to set a date for your party and make it different from everyone else’s.
My daughter graduated from high school a few years ago and we had a really great party, so I want to share with you how we did it. She’ll be graduating from college (!) next year so we need to be thinking about doing it all again. 🙂
First up, pick a date. There was a family at school who always got their invites out EARLY because they wanted to nab the time immediately after the graduation ceremony for their party every time one of their kids graduated.
The first time they did it it ticked me off a little but I decided not to fight it when it came time for us to have a graduation party. Everyone is so emotionally ramped up on the actual day of graduation anyway, and there are SO many parties that we just decided to withdraw from the competition. 🙂
We scheduled ours for the Sunday night of graduation weekend. Several weeks before graduation, we sent out invitations using my favorite online invitation source, Paperless Post. Their invitations are unique and you can personalize them and pick out festive “envelopes” and “stamps” for the invitation.
They are fun to receive and open. Recipients can RSVP online and you can easily keep track of the guest list. You can choose a free design or use their “coin” system to purchase a design you like. You will also need “coins” to send the invitations.
We figured by having the party on a Sunday night everyone would have recovered a little from the frenzy of graduation day and would be ready to just hang out and have some fun. We decided to put on the invitation for everyone to bring all their high school homework because we would be having a Homework Bonfire. 🙂 The response was HUGE!
We didn’t know if anyone would really bring any but these kids brought BOXES of homework and burned it with a vengeance. My daughter’s homework load in high school was just beyond absurd so I’m sure it was cathartic for these kids to burn that stuff. We took pictures and sent them to the principal and registrar just to be bratty. 🙂 Ours was a very close knit school so it was all in good fun.
Next, decide what to eat. Teenagers love to eat, so get plenty. 🙂 I knew from being around my daughter’s friends over the years that they love Raising Cane’s Chicken so we decided to just get a TON of it. I don’t know if you have Cane’s where you live but they serve chicken tenders with Texas toast and a secret dipping sauce for which only the managers know the recipe.
Kids love it. I made a big batch of coleslaw and we just put everything out and let the kids help themselves. Just pick something easy and relaxed that kids will enjoy eating. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just plentiful. 🙂
Accessorize! We got paper plates, napkins, and cups with her university logo on them, and got plastic table cloths and cutlery in her school colors from Dollar Tree. You can buy a whole ready-made University Party Bundle or just buy a few pieces with the school emblem and fill in the rest with solid color items from your local dollar store. Party City also has stuff in every color imaginable.
We also had a cake and desserts for after the meal. We contacted a local baker and gave them a picture of the mascot of my daughter’s university and they iced the cake to look exactly like it. We did half chocolate and half white cake under all that icing.
For the other desserts, we made them all the morning of the party. We made little cookie “diplomas” using Pirouline Crème Filled Dark Chocolate Rolled Wafers wrapped with ribbon from her high school colors.
We also made little graduation caps using small Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as the base, with a square chocolate cookie “glued” on top using chocolate icing, then a miniature M&M and licorice for the tassle, again “glued” with icing. These were so cute and came together really quickly.
If you don’t want to make dessert, many local bakeries make adorable chocolate covered strawberries that look like graduates. 🙂
Since we had a bonfire going with all that homework, we also put out all the supplies for the kids to make s’mores. Graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars and metal skewers.
Pick up some festive party favors. Just for fun, we had a bunch of pairs of dotted sunglasses and graduation cap sunglasses and let the kids take their pick of which one they wanted.
We also had lots of Graduation Bubbles to play with.
If you have a pool, why not have a bunch of these adorable Graduation Rubber Duckies floating around? 🙂
We also used College Logo Duct Tape to wrap bottles of water for the kids to drink. You can find practically every college imaginable and it takes no time at all to wrap the bottles.
If your child isn’t going to college or is taking a gap year, you can buy generic Graduation Party Water Bottle Stickers to put on water bottles.
You can also get these cute Paper Straws with Grad Caps to add a festive look.
Take lots of pictures. They will never pass this way again this time in their lives. They will all scatter over the summer and off to their respective colleges and universities. They’ll still see each other over breaks and summers, but high school is the end of an era. Attention must be paid. 🙂
Give a parting gift. We put together a little gift bag for each student to give them as they left the party. We got each student a book called 1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know: Like Buying Your Books Before Exams Start and put them in cute graduation gift bags.
So that’s it. All the kids really want to do is hang out, decompress, and celebrate. All you have to do is provide a relaxed environment and plenty of food. There doesn’t need to be an agenda or an itinerary. Just put everything out and step away. Let the kids talk and reminisce and share their plans for the future.
Everything but picking up the food can be done ahead of time, so there is not a real need to make this stressful. Unless you decide to cook all the food yourself. That might make for a hectic day. 🙂 Chances are, you’re a little emotionally wrung out too, so cut yourself some slack and bring in some teenager food and relax!
Please feel free to share any graduation party ideas you have in the comment section. And I’d love to have you follow me on Pinterest!