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7 Tips for Hosting a Graduation Party

It’s the end of the school year and time for graduation! That means planning a graduation party or open house for your senior. Lucia Paul from Dysfunctional Scrapbooking 7 tips for hosting a graduation party that will take the stress away from your grad’s special day. 

If you are unfamiliar with the tradition of high school graduation parties, I salute you.

But where I live, it is a common practice to host a large open house for your graduate. This may make you stagger around saying, “We didn’t do this when I graduated!” You’re absolutely right, of course. I consulted a few experts, otherwise known as moms like me who have hosted a graduation open house, and here are a few of our tips:


1). Be Among the First or Last.
There will likely be an enormous amount of parties going on the actual weekend of graduation. Consider a weekend or two before graduation for your get-together. Another option is to let June and July drift by, and in mid-August, host a combination grad party/college send-off. Parents and grads will appreciate the chance to get together before everyone goes off in their new directions.

2). No Need for Ponies, Lobster or Despair.
You will certainly hear of, or be invited to, a grad party that could give most wedding receptions a run for their money. But there are no rules regarding expense or details. One of the loveliest graduation open houses I’ve ever been to, consisted of lemonade, two kinds of cookies, and an unstressed hostess.

Easy Graduation Party Menu and Theme ideas:

Breakfast/brunch: Baked goods, coffee and juice. It will only be as complicated as your love of donuts and muffins.

Nacho Bar: Tortilla chips, a crockpot or two of seasoned meat or chicken, salsa, cheese, and other toppings. Everyone loads their own disposable bowl with their nacho creation. No utensils needed

Ice cream Social: Tubs of ice cream, assorted toppings, disposable bowls and spoons.

3). Buy disposable cups, plates and cutlery early.
Before my daughter’s graduation party, I went from store to store in my large urban area, and couldn’t find clear plastic glasses to save my life. Everywhere I went, I heard, “Grad party season…we sell out fast.” Buy early and often. You will thank me.

4). If you serve food, you will run out
That’s OK. In fact, you should plan on it. Unless you are doing an August gathering, people will be coming from another grad party to yours, and then leaving to go to at least one more. No one is looking to your event as their main meal of the day.

5). Encourage Narcissism
Ok not really. But no high school grad party is complete without at least one large poster board or corkboard with lots of photos of your graduate in all phases of their life. We panicked (a familiar family trait) the morning of my daughter’s party when we realized we hadn’t prepared any poster boards. She and a friend took a bunch of photos, went to Kinkos, and color copied them in various sizes. They taped them all over the house, and it was a huge hit. More importantly, it was fun and simple.

6). Shorter is better
Whether you decide on a breakfast, midday or evening time frame, keep the open house to no more than three hours. 4-7pm or 10am-1pm, for example.

7). Facebook saves trees and your sanity.
You’ll make your life infinitely easier if you embrace the reality that having a Facebook event page, or using electronic invitations, is more efficient and attendee-friendly than traditional invitations and RSVPs. If you are looking forward to a more formal keepsake, have 10-20 photo graduation announcements printed to give to grandparents and close family friends.

High school graduation is one of the most anticipated milestones for your family. Here’s hoping your graduate’s day, and party, are everything you both could wish for.

Lucia Paul

Lucia Paul is a writer who has contributed to numerous online publications including the Erma Bombeck Writer’s website and, on topics ranging from the financial crisis to parenting teens. Her writing is in multiple anthologies including That’s Paris: Life, Love, and Sarcasm in the City of Light (2015), Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness-Stories by Sleepy Moms (2014), Not Your Mother's Book...on Home Improvement (2013), Not Your Mother's Book...on Being a Mom (2014). She blogs at Dysfunctional Scrapbooking. Find her on Twitter: @DFscrapbook

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