Making sure that you have all of the right graduation party supplies, food, drink, activities, and details perfect for a graduation party doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re in charge of planning your own or a friend, child, or loved one’s graduation party, here is the ultimate checklist to make sure this party commemorates all of the hard work the graduate has put into his schooling:
Step One: Invitations
There are plenty of places where you can find great invitations for your graduation party. Making sure that you have invites sent out early enough and to the right people is going to be one of the most major party planning tasks that you have to tackle.
Some schools will sell or give away invitations that graduations can use to invite friends and family to a party, but if not, customized invitations can be purchased online, standard invites can be purchased from any party store, or, if you have some graphic design skills, you can always design your own—you may even be able to find a template online that you like, that you can easily customize.
Wherever you get your invitations from, they can all include the following information:
- An invitation to the party (obviously)
- Response card, so the recipient can RSVP
- An envelope for the response card
- A map that shows how to get to the party’s venue
- A seating card that tells the recipient where they are going to sit (if applicable)
- And an agenda that discusses the format of the party or the celebration weekend, for guests coming from out of town who need to plan their travel
While it might not be necessary or appropriate to include all of these things with every invitation, especially if the party is fairly casual, this information can help potential guests find the party. Including an RSVP card can be a great way to get an accurate count of how many people are coming, which could be essential if you are providing a meal or trying to find a venue large enough to hold everyone who wants to come and celebrate.
Step Two: Find a Space
Finding a space to hold your graduation party does not have to be difficult. There are essentially three different types of places that you could rent. The first is a hall—which is the best option if you are planning on celebrating with lots of people or are having a joint party with other graduates. Renting a hall opens you up to many different decoration possibilities and allows you to have a bar (if the graduate and most of the attendees are old enough), buffet or food station, and entertainment like a band or DJ.
The second option is to rent out a restaurant or make a reservation for your party. This is usually the best option if you prefer to have a smaller celebration just with very close friends and relatives. Especially if just the immediate family is available to attend the graduation ceremony (which is common if your graduation is out of town), making a reservation at your favorite restaurant is a good option. Of course, you then have limited food and decoration choices, but there is also very little preparation and cleanup required after the fact.
The third option is to host the party at your home, or if not at your home, at a home of a friend or relative who is willing to host. This can be a great way to have more control over decorations, the time and date of the party, and the menu, but it can mean a lot of work for the host and for the party planner.
Step Three: Pick a Menu
Unless you have chosen to have your party at a restaurant instead of at a rented hall or in someone’s home, you will need to pick a menu. While you do not have to serve a full banquet at your party, it is usually appropriate to have some sort of food for your guests, especially if you want them to stick around and celebrate for a while.
If the format of your party is more like an “open house,” where you want guests to stop by, say their congratulations, perhaps leave a gift, and then leave whenever they are finished mingling, finger foods are usually the best choice. If, on the other hand, you want your guests to stick around for a while, a buffet table with different types of food they can choose from to make a meal is a great way to feed a large group of people.
One of the biggest roadblocks most graduations party planners run into at this point is whether or not they should cook the food that they are going to offer at the party. Deciding whether to cook or buy your food (from the prepared food section of your grocery store or from a caterer) usually comes down to the time and cost ration. For some people, making their own food will take a short amount of time and will cost less. For other, it will take a large amount of time and be more expensive. Decide how “valuable” your time is and whether or not you want to spend it making food.
Step Four: Decorations!
Finding the right graduation party decorations does not have to be difficult. Our online party store has a wide variety of great decorations, including class-year-themed banners, table displays, boxes to collect congratulatory cards, and more!