Set the date
Whether you are throwing a college graduation party for yourself or you are throwing a graduation party for someone else, you have to keep in mind that when one person graduates, a whole class of other people is graduating too. There will be several parties going on around the same date, so if you are throwing your own party, try to co-ordinate party dates with your fellow graduating friends so that you can be at each other’s parties. If you are throwing a party for a graduate, then talk to him or her about the best date to pick. Generally speaking, graduation parties are held in the afternoon, and they usually extend well into the evening or night hours.
Set a budget
Before you jump into the party plans, figure out how much money you can spend on the event. Once you have come up with your figure, divvy up the money between foods and decorations. If you just buy things as you go along, you are likely to spend more money than you would have liked.
Choose a theme
Decide how formal or informal you want the party to be, and whether or not you want a themed party. The theme could be a beach party, or you could try to focus it on the degree that the graduate obtained. If you are celebrating someone getting their Master’s degree in education, then you might decorate with apples, rulers, and other teaching-oriented accessories. If the degree was in history, you could go as far as asking your guests to dress up as historical figures. For a degree in music, decorate with pictures of musical instruments and treble clefs. You could also just focus on the lifetime of the graduate, and their accomplishments thus far in life. Put out old school pictures from grammar school to graduate school. Decorate with old report cards and school projects. If you would rather keep things more casual, then just decorate with the graduation basics: some caps and gowns from a party supplies store, decorative diplomas, tassels, and school emblems.
Compile a guest list
The guest list for a graduation party should usually follow the standard of the bigger, the better. Why? Well, most graduates are broke, and monetary gifts are very popular for graduations. It might sound crude, but that is the truth, and most grads know it “ and really want it! Let the party include as many guests as you can fit and afford. Invite friends of the family, extended family, high school friends, college friends, and neighbors. Ask for a list of names and numbers from the grad, because chances are that they have made many friends at college who you have not had the opportunity to meet yet, but who they would really like to have there.
Make and send invitations
Make your invitations convey the party spirit. Decorate them with tassels, school colors, or mascots. If you have a digital camera or a scanner and a personal computer, you could even put a picture of the graduate in front of the invitations. Send them out at least a couple of weeks in advance, and ask for an RSVP one week ahead of time, so that you can buy the correct quantities of food and drink. Make sure that you save one of your hand-crafted invitations for the grad, too it will be a treasured piece of college memorabilia.
Buy Food or have it catered
If you can afford to cater to the event, then do so. With a large number of guests, the job of the hostess is quite enough without trying to take on the responsibilities of wait staff and kitchen. Plus, you will want to enjoy the event that you have spent so much time and effort planning no doubt, the graduate is either your child or someone very special to you. If you are able to cater to the party, make sure that you check references and that you get the opportunity to taste some of their foods and select the foods from their menu yourself. Find out how many employees will be working your event, and find out how long they will need to set up on the day of the event.
Any reputable catering company will be happy to accommodate those requests and answer any questions you may have. If you are going to be buying and preparing the foods yourself, try to stick to a menu that you can prepare in advance. Make some dips, such as dill dip and onion dip. Prepare some casserole dishes and sides that can be made in advance and only require a little heating-up to be served.
Salads can be prepared early as well, such as potato salad and macaroni salad, and they can easily be made in mass quantities. Make a large sheet cake for dessert, along with some fresh fruit platters. Also, you might consider making up a few punch bowls and some kegs of the graduate’s favorite beer so that you don’t need to constantly worry about restocking beverages or tending to a bar.note