8 ways to have a good graduation party

We had a high school graduation party on June 6. We learned some things. Maybe they will help you with graduation parties…and anywhere you need to think about details and events.

1. Have a clear and simple, albeit odd, theme.

graduation display tableHope, for reasons none  us know, likes pirates and pink flamingos. I think it’s because they are fun to say. That’s what she decided the theme for her graduation party would be.

It made things simple. Nancy found instructions for making treasure chests out of Swiss cake rolls. We got pink flamingos (2) and cheap plastic pirate flags and eye patches and used yellow crepe paper to block off the front door like police tape.

When one of her friends walked up the sidewalk and said “I love the pink flamingo” and I said, “Pirates and pink flamingos” and her friend smiled and said “That’s Hope!” I knew we were right.

2. Pay for premium parking.

Hope’s graduation was at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, a place that requires you to pay for parking. On Saturday, I paid for premium parking, twice the usual amount. Why? Because it meant that we didn’t have to wait to get into the regular lot, that we could get much closer to the building to drop off Nancy’s parents, and that the car was closer when we were leaving. Sometimes, it is worth the money to save the time.

3. Find future photographers

Hope had two photographers shoot her senior pictures. Neither are professionals, both are professional, both are college students wanting to get better. The shots are outstanding, authentic, and affordable. And we ended up owning the images. (Though I had to sign a waiver at Walgreens when I picked them up. They thought I was illegally reproducing studio photographs.)

4. Put fine print on the invitation

The invitations were half-sheet card stock. On one side, we used one of the pictures. I cropped it and filled the page with it, making piece that some people have framed or put on the refrigerator. The other side had the party information. And then, in 8 point type, I gave people lots of information about Hope’s plans, her activities, details about the picture itself. The idea was to give people starting points for conversation at the party. And it worked.

5. Make pirate toothpickspirate toothpicks

I printed a closeup on plain paper. I laid it on the floor. I put a plastic eye patch on it. I took a picture with my phone. I sent the picture to myself. I opened Word and created return labels (Avery #8167) with the picture on one side and a pirate greeting on the other. Hope folded them onto toothpicks.

6. Have fun with food.

chocolate cookies with fish sprinklesI already mentioned the treasure chests. Nancy and Hope also made blue jello, with gummi fish and sharks, in a goldfish bowl. Really. After all, it is a glass container. Nancy found a flamingo cookie cutter, made sugar cookies, and frosted them with pink frosting. And chocolate for the eyes. Hope made cookies that are ritz cracker-peanut butter sandwiches, dipped in chocolate…and she decorated them with tiny candy fish. With pineapple coconut cheesecake, party mix with gold wrapped chocolate coins,  blue lemonade Kool-ade, a blue table cloth and meat and cheese and veggie tortilla roll-ups, the food was fun. (Notice the details. The fun is in the details).

7. Use objects to tell the story

Hope has spent 7 years in the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir. Every year, every tour, had a shirt. She was in choirs at school. She was in plays at school. Every choir, every play, had a shirt. Jill pinned them shoulder to shoulder around the railing of our deck. There were enough to cover the 16 x 20 square foot railing. And the fabric defined the space.

8. Have help.

sidewalk writingHope and Andrew, Andrew’s fiance Allie, and my sister Jill and her kids Nat and Collin, were tremendous help with cleanup, setup, food prep, writing with chalk on the driveway, creating a new font with blue painter’s tape for the sign in front, keeping the food supplied while Nancy and I visited. It happened because of community. And great friends who came.


I think there will be more posts coming out of this party. Stay tuned.


2 responses to “8 ways to have a good graduation party

  1. Sounds like a good time had by all. I just wish we could have made it.

  2. btw…could you send us a couple of pictures…or just bring them…or wait, there’s a reply card with a stamped envelope somwhere at your house…could you stick a couple of them in there and send them to me…like one of the field ones and then, um…another one of your choosing…i forgot to get one.