By Veronique Saiya
Your graduate deserves a great reward for his hard work and accomplishment. In addition to expressions of pride and appreciation, you can be brave and throw him a graduation party he will always remember. Here are some suggestions for getting your graduation gala underway!
Create a budget
You first need to make a firm decision about how much money you’re willing to spend. Next, ask yourself what will make or break the party, and plan to allot most of your money toward making it happen. By doing so, you’ll know exactly where to cut corners on expenditures. You may want to consider co-hosting your party with another graduate’s parents, thereby sharing the financial burden and time commitments.
Pick a date, time, and location
Compare calendars with your child’s friends and/or family to ensure good attendance at your party. Having the party at home will save you money, but if you’re afraid of the mess, try to have most of the activities outside, weather permitting. If you opt to have your party elsewhere, you may want to consider the following locations: parks, isolated country lots, hotel reception rooms, private rooms in restaurants, and country clubs.
Choose a party theme
The main focus of a graduation party is definitely graduation, but adding a theme not only gives cohesiveness to your planning experience, it gives the party style and character that can only help to make it a memorable occasion for everyone. Once you’ve chosen the theme, coming up with decorating ideas will be a cinch. If you’re no Martha Stewart, just go to a craft or party store for supplies.
You may want to use a common prom theme, while adding your own unique flair. Down the road, this choice will make the event more memorable for guests. If you don’t like the prom crutch, here are some fun possibilities to consider: Hawaiian Luau, Blue Lagoon, Camelot, Cabaret, Painted Desert, One Night in Bangkok, Mardi Gras, Pool Party, Barbeque, College Bound, Movie Madness, Bonfire, 70s, 80s, and Techno. Here’s an example of how to take your theme and run with it:
Hawaiian Luau or Blue Lagoon
These themes are perfect if you have a pool, but still feasible if you don’t. Decorate with torches, floating candles, potted palms, and an exotic flower arrangement including birds of paradise, ginger, and/or orchids. Give guests leis as they arrive. Serve umbrella drinks, pit barbeque, shrimp, and/or an exotic fruit platter. Display your food on palm leaves or in coconuts, and tack up hula skirts around the edges of your tables. Throw in some music and/or movies inside the house, and you’ve got it made!
Mail the invitations, or deliver them by hand
Invitations can be fun and simple. You may want to cut corners on invitations, but don’t forget to make them look festive. Think of them as previews to your party. If you have a specific theme, try to incorporate it into the look of your invitations. You may choose to simply name the theme, and roll up your invitations diploma-style with ribbons of school colors. To avoid lots of tying, write them on mortarboards instead. Or, as an easy last resort, use your school colors by buying envelopes of one color, and invitation sheets of the other.
When writing your invitations, don’t forget to include directions to the party site. To prevent your guests from having to choose between two or more parties going on at the same time, get together with other party throwers to create an itinerary. Put the itineraries on separate slips of paper, and tuck them into the invitations. You may even want to list all the parties in one invitation, sharing the costs and time.
Above all else, you must have entertainment— especially music. If you’ve got great music, you can’t go wrong. A DJ is great if you can afford it. DJs can cost anywhere from $300 to $3000, depending on his or her reputation, and how long you want them to be at the party. A cheaper alternative is to have one of your child’s friends arrange the music, or you can take on that responsibility yourself. Collaborate with your child to make a pre-approved song list on which you both agree. You may want to download songs. Also, have some movies on hand, as well as a few packs of cards or other games for those who don’t want to dance.
Don’t forget to take pictures and/or pull out the camcorder. You may even want to offer disposable cameras to guests who forgot to bring their own. Polaroids are instant fun, and their photos make great take-home party favors.
Now you have the rudimentary skills to throw a great party. Although you’ve gone to great lengths to make it a blast, remember that you’re still the goofy and, yes, cheesy parent. Try not to take this personally, but you are the background. If you play your cards right, you’ll be elevated to a higher status in the years to come. Trust me on this! I’m a 27-year-old, 21st century digital girl, and can still remember my high school years quite clearly.
Whether you’re a family member or friend, you may be asking yourself the following: Should I give something that will be useful in his/her new career, school, dorm, or apartment? Do I want to get something that can be used now, or in the future? Do I want something that simply preserves the memory of graduation? These are great questions to ask yourself, and they get your creative juices flowing. Here are some gift possibilities:
- Trip to Europe
- Framed stock certificate
- Fine jewelry
- Money to go toward college education
- Hand-held organizer
- Notebook computer or laptop
- Printer, CD drive, scanner
- CD drive
- Internet account
- Voucher for schoolbook receipts
- Fine pen
- Digital camera
- Luggage, hand-crafted trunk
- TV, VCR, or DVD Player
- Gas card
- Cell phone service
- Contemporary desk
- Pure gold or silver coin from year of graduation
- Mini stereo system
- Engraved object
- Gift certificate from a trendy clothing store
- Picture frames
- Scrap book
- Gift certificate from a bookstore
- Phone card
- Hand-held voice recorder
- Fine writing journal
- Gift certificate for art supplies
- Movie passes
- Restaurant gift certificates
- Magazine subscriptions
- Posters, art
- Closet organizers
- College logo items
- Stationary, stamps
- Daily planner
- Dictionary, thesaurus
- Address book
- Coffee mugs
- Book bag
- Shower tote and shower shoes
- Basic tool kit, First Aid kit
- Silverware, plates, bowls, can opener, etc.#