Rachel Paxton

Article Summary:

A graduation party planning idea for a large outdoor gathering.

Graduation Party Planning Idea

Planning for a graduation party or open house? Our oldest daughter is graduating from high school in a few short weeks. Because we don't normally throw big parties for our kids, we decided to choose this occasion to throw a big party for her and show her how proud we are of her.

With only a couple of weeks left before the big day, there is lots to do. We decided to host her graduation party in our large back yard. If you don't have enough room in your yard, consider asking a friend or family member to volunteer their yard or check your local parks for reserving a nice spot for your party.

Who to invite? We are inviting family who live close by, as well as relatives we know are willing to travel. Because this is our daughter's one and only "big party" we are inviting all of her friends, teachers, youth leaders, her boss, and co-workers. We've invited aboout 100 people in all, but not everyone will be there for lunch. Our open house will be from 12:00 p.m. to 4 p.m., so people will be coming and going all afternoon. We are planning on about 40 people eating lunch with us.

We decided to rent tables and chairs because we don't have enough to host a large party, so I called a local rental store and found out I can rent them for $6.00 per table and $.50 per chair. Very reasonable, and because the party is on Saturday, I have until Monday to return them. We are providing seating for 40 people.

I went to a party store at a local outlet mall for party decorations. Because the party is outside, we won't be doing a lot of decorating. I bought some plastic table cloth (on a roll) to cover the tables. I chose a color that is one of my daughter's school colors. It was about $10 for a roll that will cover 11 banquet size tables.

I also bought some graduation napkins at the party store, and a box that is made for graduation cards. You set the box out on a table for guests to leave cards for your graduate.

I decided not to spend the extra money on fancy plates and cups. I will buy large packages of these at Walmart or Costco.

For food we are planning to barbecue hot dogs and hamburgers. In order to get my husband to agree to all this, we decided he could buy a new barbecue. We looked everywhere and finally settled on a stainless steel gas grill from Lowe's. This will definitely be our biggest expense, but at least we will also be able to enjoy it later.

If you are planning to invite a lot of family to your graduation party, don't be afraid to ask them to help with food. Our family will be bringing salads and chips to help out. We'll also serve potato salad, deviled eggs, baked beans, and lemonade and iced tea to drink.

If you decide to purchase a cake, make sure to order it ahead of time so it will be ready the day of your party. We ordered a large, beautiful graduation cake from Costco for only $15.99. We just have to pick it up the morning of the party.

You might want to think about a photo display of your graduate. You can create a poster of snapshots, or even lay out photo albums or scrapbooks. I have a scrapbook I have been keeping of my daughter's high school memories that I will lay out for guests to enjoy. You also could lay out a book for your guests to write notes to your graduate.

The key for our graduation party will be simplicity. We want to enjoy the party and enjoy our family and friends, while also celebrating our daughter's graduation. With two young boys also under our feet, it makes it hard to get anything done, so I won't be afraid to ask for help, because the whole family is looking forward to this exciting day.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of the "What's for Dinner?" cookbook, a cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, and frugal living, visit Creative Homemaking at www.creative homemaking.com.

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