Times are uncertain, and I know it might be difficult to think about a graduation ceremony that may or may not happen. Its heavy, and I feel so much for my 2020 seniors. But, your time will come to celebrate. This is a milestone that deserves recognition and whether that happens when you originally planned or many weeks later, you will be celebrated!! And since we are all staying safe at home, we’ve been given the gift of time. So lets spend this time planning a senior celebration that you more than deserve!
The very first step is to think about the type of graduation party you are going to have. Will it be for family only? Will it be friends and family? Will it be several friends coming together to host one massive grad party for all your friends (this is what I did so many years ago…I definitely recommend!). This is obviously the first step since it is the foundation of your party. It will help you determine if you need a venue, catering, entertainment, etc. Its impossible to even think about the next step until you outline these. It helps to write down everything that you know you will need first, then add your list of wants. For this step, I like to lay it all out, my dream party and spare no expense! You may not get to plan that party, but maybe you can! So add that pony ride and appearance by Post Malone.
Set a Budget
I know this is the least fun part of any party planning. But you have to know what you have to work with so you can spend on things that are most important to you and save on things that don’t matter as much. Now is the time you need to do some research, and find out what each thing will cost. What does the cake cost? How many paper goods do you need and how much will that cost, etc. So this is just my preference, but I like to overestimate the cost here. The last thing I want is to assume that plates for 50 will cost $10 when it actually costs $25 and then have to cut something from my want list. I would rather have the surplus and come in under budget or have extra to add from my list of wants.
Find a Venue
Ok, so I know the majority of graduation parties probably occur at your home, especially if its a more intimate party. But some people have enormous families or if you are combining with friends you might consider renting a place, and it might be more affordable than you think.
If you want a beautiful, modern space, check out Urban Fire House. Its one of the most beautiful venues I have seen locally, in fact I have hosted a few photoshoots there. The space has variable rates depending on the day an time, scheduling for a morning party will save you a few dollars over a Saturday evening event.
Not everyone has the budget for big event space, so if you need a more budget friend option, check with local churches about using the student building or multipurpose room. Often times these fees are very minimal for church members and some even rent to people who are not members. Another option would be a restaurant that would accommodate a party your size or if they will rent it out to you for the evening. The advantage of this is you don’t have to worry about cooking or hiring a caterer!
So, you have a plan, and now it’s time to plan the food. Its always my favorite part of any event, because, well, I love food!! If you opted for your home or venue that does not provide food, think about what you want to eat. Are you going to have appetizers and cake? A full dinner? There is no shortage of amazing food options, and obviously everyone will have their own taste, so I dont feel like I need to provide much advice here. But to take your food from yummy to epic, consider hiring a food truck! Its a really fun way to have something catered and it keeps your kitchen clean. It also allows guests to pick what entrees they prefer and can meet dietary restrictions of your guests that might have them. Some of my favorite food trucks locally are Hook and Ladder, Crown Tacos and Coco Shrimp .
Behind every good party is a Pinterest board full of decorations to put any party planner out of a job. But seriously, a party really comes together with decor! If you are hosting this in your home why not make your party the talk of the neighborhood with a yard sign from North Fort Worth Yard Greetings. Guys these are so fun and completely custom, and it will definitely let your guests know are at the right house! Want to go over the top with something fun and different, check out Balloon Therapy out of Dallas. You guys, I cannot describe how cool these balloons are, these are incredible works of art; including garlands, arches, bouquets, you name it! They are totally custom and really amazing. Look them up, you will not be disappointed.
Ok to be honest, this is the most fun part and the part I was looking forward to writing. I mean, cool food and decorations are important, but what will make your party truly epic is the extras!
Entertainment! Ok I have seen everything from local bands (even some really talented high school friends) to a mechanical bull to yard games. Of course your guests are there to celebrate you, but give them something to do! And the more fun they have, the longer they will stay. Here are just a few ideas:
- rent a bounce house
- host a pool party
- hire a DJ or local band to perform
- yard games
- video game truck
- laser tag party
And guys, there are services you can hire for this, but a lot of them you can also DIY! No budget for a DJ, create an epic Spotify/Amazon/iTunes playlist. Don’t want to shell out money for yard games? Make them yourself – or ask your Uncle Steve thats handy to build you some. Get creative! It can be a blast without having to spend all your college fund.
Have a photo booth! My friend Kendra has an amazing photo both company that comes to you. She offers the flexibility to create customs gifs or still images (you and your guests can choose!). Its a fun way to get your guests interacting and finish your party with photographic memories. Check out www.bestdfwphotobooth.com for details. If hiring a Photo Booth isn’t in your budget, grab yourself a ring light (I like this one off amazon) and use your phone!
Have a signing board or photo guest book. Obviously this is self serving as I sell both of these products (and even if you don’t book you senior session with me, I can still design and print these for you – even mix in your favorite cell phone images!!). Imagine a photo book with all your favorite high school memories that your friends sign. Think about how fun that will be to look through while your away at college, or even 20 years down the road. The memories you have made will last a lifetime and its so amazing to revisit them with the friends that helped shape them. Or maybe you just want your favorite photo from your senior session on a board for people to sign their name to. What a sweet thing to hang on the walls of your home or dorm room.
Of course, the most important part of your party is you. So whether you want a low key dinner or a something a little more lavish, I hope these ideas help you get started!