There's a lot of preparation that goes into any memorable event. Graduation is quite possibly the second most memorable event in one's life, second only to your wedding. This can get chaotic quickly. But with proper planning and plenty of time, you can commemorate this milestone with ease.
When to Start Planning: As with any major holiday ( and graduation is a major holiday if you have a grad ), it approaches very quickly! Before you know it summer will be here - graduation party season! The time to start planning is now. Give yourself time to make this a leisurely stroll instead of a mad dash. It will show in the outcome and you will be able to enjoy yourself making memories. Start planning for summer graduation in spring.
Determine a Budget: With so many options, it's easy to get carried away. Determine first off how much you are willing to spend. Keep it comfortable and make a list of priorities. Remember the expense that lie ahead.
Choose a Venue: Home or away. Each comes with pros and cons.
Home- A party at home will require possible rental of chairs, outdoor tents, tables, buffet service. Remember everyone else that will be hosting parties at the same time, make sure to reserve anything you may need several months ahead of time. A party at home adds the comfort of knowing what you have on hand. Having the party at home you'll need to decide whether to cook or cater.
Away- Hosting at a restaurant or other event center ensures that all of the seating and service will be taken care of. The cooking and most of the clean up will be taken care of as well. Choose a venue that will provide the atmosphere you are wanting in a convenient location for guests. It will be summer so a venue that has the option for outdoor seating might be nice. But again, be sure to reserve your location several months ahead of time.
Choose a Time and Date: Pay attention to your calendar. Avoid planning on a holiday weekend and remember there will be lots of other parties your grad may want to attend. Make sure to check the weather. It's a good idea to communicate with your general guest list and get an idea of what works best for most.
Hosting your party at home gives you more flexibility on dates. When you reserve a venue, you're nailed down.
Make sure to factor in set up time and clean up time as well. Both for a party at home or away.
Invitations: Definitely a priority are announcements and invites. There is a major difference between graduation announcements and graduation party invitations.
Graduation Announcements- traditionally announcements are sent after the graduation ceremony. They should go out to all family and friends, anyone who may be interested the grad's accomplishment. It's a memento that not only acknowledges the graduate but the recipient - a nice touch.
Graduation Invitations- this is the actual invite to the party you're planning. Experts recommend sending out party invites to local friends and family four to six weeks prior to the event. Invitations to those coming from out of town should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance and should include a map and an idea about overnight accommodations whether it be hotels or in your home.
While it may be tempting to send out emails or social media invites, it kind of takes the shine off the apple. It's a huge milestone and deserves more than that.
You will need to order your personalized invites and announcements about three months before the date. After you personalize, delivery is generally 6-9 days. Give yourself time to have them prepared, shipped, addressed and mailed.
Minted.com offers free custom color changes so you can show your school colors. They also offer free custom envelopes and free recipient addressing. They frequently offer free shipping codes as well!
First things first! Make a guest list. Decide whether you want it to be class-wide or a more intimate group of family and friends. Make sure to include an RSVP.
Decor: Party Decor is intended to create a festive backdrop and personality to your event. Let your graduate's light shine through here. Consider signs, menu cards, favors, bunting, table runners, balloons, photo backdrops, even flowers. Make sure if your party will be outside that the decorations are suitable - you don't want them to blow away or wither in the sun.
Don't forget to add in personal items to display, like photos, trophies, awards/plaques, sign in books, and other school memorabilia.
Plan to order a cake when you start considering decorations. Depending on your bakery, a two to three week in advance order is standard.
The Last Step: Have fun and enjoy this life changing time. Celebrate the accomplishments and the bright future ahead. A significant part of this milestone is exposing your kids to the planning and protocol of such an event that celebrates them but includes so many others!
Congratulations Class of 2017!