The end of the year is approaching! For many parents, the end of their child’s school year is a bittersweet time. You’re proud of all your children have accomplished, but you’re sad to see them leave the nest. Send them off to college in style with a safe and fun high school graduation party. Follow these simple tips to make sure everyone has fun and gets home safely.
1. Decide on a day and time. Many graduation parties bring together parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and peers. Sit down with your graduate to decide when he or she wants to have a party. Consider the number of family members who will need to travel to attend and the distance to be covered. Sometimes it is best to have two different parties: one for family members and one for friends.
2. Establish a budget. The budget will govern the entire event – from the guest list and location to the food and party favors. If you have a small budget, consider inviting a few family members and close friends to a backyard barbecue or have your student choose a few close friends for a fun dinner at a favorite restaurant.
3. Choose a location. The location will help you plan the rest of the party. Your options probably range from your garden or campground to a hotel or amusement park. Consider letting your student host a 50/50 party – the graduate spends half the day with family and half with friends and peers.
4. Create a guest list. This is an important step in making the party safe. Sit down with your son or daughter and explain that parents and other adults will be at the party. You can probably compromise by having a small “parents’ party” in the same location as the student party – close enough so that everyone is safe, but far enough away to give students a sense of independence. Emphasize that your student should not invite anyone you don’t know. This may lead to some complaints, but hang in there. You want to get to know all the students on the guest list and make sure that your child only invites people from the pre-discussed list. This helps to prevent troublemakers from coming to the party and creating problems.
5. Send invitations. Most large private and public schools offer personalized invitations that students can purchase. If this seems too expensive, consider making the invitations together or simply sending out e-cards.
6. Set the menu. The menu should reflect the location. For example, if you’re having a meeting in the garden, you can turn on the grill. If your student wants to rent a ballroom at the hotel, you can use a caterer.
7. Decorate! Arrive early at the event site and give your creativity free rein. Ask your graduate for help in making the party unique and special. Don’t settle for old crepe paper and balloons – expand your horizons by creating posters of fun baby pictures and getting your friends to sign a guest book or t-shirt. You can find inexpensive decorations at dollar stores or even at garage sales.
8. Encourage your student to welcome guests. After all, it is Graduation Day! It’s a great opportunity for your student to play host or hostess for the first time. Ask the graduate to introduce you to guests who don’t know each other and encourage him or her to make sure everything runs smoothly during the evening.
9. Take lots of pictures. This is likely to be one of the last times these friends will all be together, so make sure your child can remember it! You may get a few eye rolls and scowls, but in a few years your graduate will thank you.
10. Speaking of thanks… Don’t let your child forget to send thank-you notes. The graduate should send notes to everyone who helped plan and execute the party, as well as to all those who brought gifts and those who participated.