Part II of “Graduation 2010,” a three-part series.

BalloonsHigh school and college graduations are among those milestones when many families like to come together with their favorite graduate and a host of friends to celebrate. If you’d like to throw a party for your graduate this spring, you may wish to consider the following ten tips:

1. Keep things in perspective. The focus should be on the graduate, your guests, and the reason why everyone is gathered for this celebration. While it’s great if all the decorations match, and it’s nice to incorporate special touches, nobody will notice if the frosting on the cake doesn’t quite match the balloons tied to your mailbox.

2. Encourage your graduate to help with the party planning. Consider your graduate’s likes and interests when making menu selections and deciding on other party plans.

3. Invite guests well in advance of this special celebration. This will help ensure that you don’t plan a party for the same date and time as that of your graduate’s best friend.

Tip: You may wish to co-host a party with another graduate’s family if the two families are close, both graduates are enthused about it, and one of the families has a large enough house or backyard to host all the guests.

4. The invitations should state start and end times and let guests know if it’s an indoor or outdoor extravaganza. If your graduate has a computer – and some basic graphic design skills – ask them to create the invitation.

5. Buffet is the way to go. When hosting a large crowd, the buffet is your friend – and how you set it up is key. Anyone who saw Father of the Bride (1950) understands that circulation is important. To ensure that the buffet line doesn’t snake through your bedroom, set up the buffet so guests can take food from both sides. You may wish to use the following suggested order for placing items on the buffet: empty dinner plates (one for each guest), hot savory items, cold savory items,  fruit, and/or dessert. Guests’ utensils should be placed in a basket at the end of the buffet, enclosed in rolled up napkins and secured with attractive ribbons.

6. The beverage station should be set apart from the buffet. This keeps things simple, and is a help to guests who don’t want to simultaneously juggle a dinner plate and a cup that’s slippery from condensation.

7. Encourage your graduate to help with host(ess)ing during the party. At the very least, your graduate should greet each guest as they arrive and thank them for coming.

8. Have your camera at the ready. If there are any family shots you want for  your photo album, consider asking a close friend to snap these pictures before the party starts. If you’ll be too busy with host(ess)ing duties, consider asking that same friend to capture Kodak moments for the duration of the party.

9. The graduate should not open gifts while guests are present. Many of these guests will likely have that experience at a future family wedding or baby shower, birthday party, or other special event. For now, gifts should be placed off to the side so folks can mix and mingle sans a “gift-opening.”

10. Thank you notes should be sent within seven days of the party. This may require your graduate to spend some extra time sitting at a desk very soon after school was dismissed…but expressing gratitude is important, and thank you notes are always in style.

And now, let the party planning begin!

* Photo by pdufour

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