Last year at this time we were preparing to host another graduation party…our second of four. We have a year off of graduation parties this year…thank the Lord… but since I never got around to posting much about last year’s party and since many of you are getting ready for your own celebrations, I thought I’d pass on some ideas from our hoopla!
-Location: I understand that many people like to have graduation parties at their own home and I see a lot of benefits in that. But, we have a large family, lots of friends, and a couple close church families which means that we needed a facility that could facilitate about 200 people coming and going throughout the afternoon and adequate parking for all.
The community we live in has an amazing park system and so as soon as the facilities become available for rent, we quickly reserve the day that we want. Our local park facility is free to rent which is a HUGE money saver and offers a lot of outdoor activities for everyone. They have beautiful pavilions that are perfect in case of rain.
-Food: My son requested a taco bar for his graduation party and it proved to be extremely easy and much more cost friendly than the route we went with my older son the year before. We offered beef and shredded chicken for the tacos or nachos and then had cheese, sour cream, salsa, taco sauce, refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and onions as toppings. We provided soft and hard taco shells and tortilla chips as well. My better half cut up seven watermelon to go along with the meal.
I borrowed the chafing dishes from our church and purchased most of my serving bowls from the dollar store. I saved them from the graduation party we had last year and used them again.
Including my graduate in the party planning is important to me and so not only did he get to choose the main food, he also got to decide what he wanted for dessert. So, by request, we had cupcakes, a “cookie bar” (lots of Oreos), and gummy bears. Cupcakes are pretty inexpensive at my local stuff club and don’t have to be manned like a cake. We also had popsicles, pop, and water bottles.
-Decorations: Because we homeschool there were no official school colors, so my graduate chose blue and grey as his school colors. I was thrilled when I walked into the dollar store one day to find table clothes that had a considerable amount of grey in them for $1.
I also found some other hanging decorations that looked nice there and I couldn’t beat the price!
To add a little color and interest to the tables we created these simple and super cost-friendly centerpieces.
We took apart pallets and made little mini pallets to add height to each of the pictures we placed on the table. I collected cans and had my boys use a hammer and nail to punch out 2016 in each of the cans. In all honesty, you couldn’t tell that’s what it said but we put little battery-operated candles in each one and the light showed through the holes.
We attached a piece of copper wire as a handle and tied twine around the can to add a rustic touch. These centerpieces were made for free since we had all the supplies on hand and the frames have been used over and over again for family functions. Just a little side note…we did put gravel in each of the cans to keep the wind from knocking them over.
The facility we rented has a beautiful mantle and fireplace that would be the focus of our decorations.
I used an old toolbox and washbasin for gifts and cards. You can see that full post here.
I hung twine from one side of the mantle to the other and attached pictures with clothespins all the way across.
This gave our guests opportunities to stand and see images from our graduates’ life.
Then I took a plain old pallet and attached more photos. This covered up the fireplace we weren’t using.
For the top of the mantle, my graduate chose a verse that he was working on applying to his life and we had an industrial colored print made from our local office supply store and framed it with a poster frame. It’s still hanging in his room today.
We like to have a little table set up with some awards, pictures, and one of my favorite things…my graduate’s new Bible.
We asked our guests to take the time to highlight their favorite verse or passage in the Bible. It is so neat to go through the Bible after the graduation party and read the scriptures that others love.
-Activities: Having the graduation party at a park is perfect for all the built-in activities. A playground and hiking trails are great fun for everyone. We offered a few other activities like Kan Jam and corn hole for the bigger kids.
The little kids thoroughly enjoyed the bubble machine, sidewalk chalk, and squirt guns.
We had an absolutely beautiful day with friends and family gathering to love on us and our son. It really does not get much better than that!!
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