As if getting ready for the big day isn't enough . . . planning the graduation after party is another milestone that takes a lot of thought and preparation. This can be an overwhelming task, so we interviewed our dear friend and professional event planner, Peggy Calabrese, to get pointers on how to make this special day hassle free and memorable.
In 2006 Peggy founded Peggy Calabrese Special Events. As President of this business, she provides professional planning for all types of personal and corporate events, from conception to the final farewell. Peggy loves the creative aspect of her job, like taking a vision and making it into a beautiful, real-life event.
"I'm naturally an organized person, with unwavering attention to detail. One of my biggest sources of pride comes at the end of planning a milestone event and the client remarks that they feel a sense of peace upon entering."
Peggy's suggestions for getting this party started:
1. Set The Date
One of the first decisions to make when planning a high school or college graduation party is where and when to have it. Looking outside the normal scope of graduation season can be a more relaxing time to celebrate, so July and August are great months for hosting. By this time, everyone can enjoy conversation looking back on the achievement(s) of the graduate and talk about their future full of promise. Finding a fun and casual setting for a graduation party typically works best. Holding an open house style gathering for a four-hour time frame is perfect. This gives family and friends time to stroll through when it is convenient for them, and lends the hosting family time to enjoy each person when they arrive.
2. Food For Thought
Buffet style cuisines are key. Not only can buffets offer a variety of foods to please many different palettes, but this type of table service also encourages guests to mingle. It makes it easy for party goers to pick their portion sizes and select foods that adhere to any dietary restrictions they might have.
3. Build A Theme & Use Color
There are no set rules for graduation party themes. Developing one based on the graduate's former high school or college, future career path, or even travel can be great in helping you decide the colors and design of the party. Some fun ideas are: "Oh, The Places You Will Go" by Dr. Suess, "Donut You Forget About Me" with donuts as the party favors, an elegant party theme using the past or future school colors...the creative options are endless.
4. Make It Memorable
Create an area that personalizes the graduation event and shares the journey of the graduate's highlights from school. For example, set up a table with framed photographs. Hang up the cap and gown. Have a journal and pens for the guests to write down their well wishes for the graduate to keep. Allow guests to share inspirational quotes to pin on a quote board. Create a memory jar by having strips of paper for friends and family to write down their favorite memory of the graduate.
More of Peggy's Favorite Party Tips
1. A "do-it-yourself" photo booth table.
Help capture the glorious moments of your graduation celebration by gathering and/or creating meaningful and fun props for friends and family to use. From printable mustaches and cool sunglasses to hats of all shapes and sizes, this can be a simple task. Head to the local party store to find beaded necklaces and festive masks. Have fun with this!
2. Music, music, music!!
Do you ever remember leaving an event feeling a bit underwhelmed? This could have been due to the lack of music. Have fun, lively music playing during the entire party. It's great to have the graduate create a compilation of their favorite songs to use for the party playlist! Another option is to hire an enthusiastic DJ to help keep your celebration lively.
3. Party favors are always well received.
There is a myriad of ways to express your gratitude, but party favors are still the favorite and are a thoughtful gesture with which to say, "thank you". Party favors let family and friends know you appreciate them sharing this special day. They can be sweet treats that tie into the theme of the gathering, illustrate the high school or college that the graduate attended/will attend, or they can be a personal keepsake that is symbolic of the graduate's future plans.