Planning a graduation party you must first select a theme. Obviously graduation, but every year part stores will improve the products they have offer and maybe a napkin, or party favor will have certain colors or images you might want to capitalize on. This year I found at Target black and white beach balls which I used as my inspiration and created a theme around the black, the white and butcher paper. A trend this year was chalkboard embellishments and writing on a black chalkboard like poster boards and labels. I incorporated this also.I hung the beach balls from the outside rafters along with several black tissue paper lanterns I picked up from Party City (a set of three was $5.99). This created a fun atmosphere in the back patio. This can be done a day ahead so you do not have to scramble the day of the party.
For the tables, I painted terra cota pots in the black
and white theme. I tried to replicate the black and white stripes that were on the beach balls. I took puffy paint and added the year of the graduation to the stripes on either side. Class of 2014.
I cut various photographs of my sons school year into stars. I tried to find pictures of him with the friends that were coming to the party. I developed these into black and whites. The stars I glued onto wooden skewers. The rest of the photo's I cut out into circles and used them into confetti on the tables. (So the confetti was red, yellow, blue stars and the circle photo cut outs). I also added on the back of one of the photo's that the centerpiece could be taken home. I did not want to store all of these, and knew I could not toss after I spent so much time making them. The tables also had graduation cap bubbles. The guests loved to open these and blow bubbles throughout the night and it made for some great photo's when we went back and looked through them!
Party favors are always a must for me. I love them! I love receiving a gift for attending an event, plus it makes a nice memento for the guests. I have discovered that people display these on their shelves at home or in their office and use them as conversation and memory pieces. I just love them! For my daughters I took a pic of her jumping infront of the school she graduated from. I also used this pic on her party invitations (which I ordered from tinyprints.com) The pic I inserted into the plastic packaging that the Quickutz dies used to come in. The square part on the back I inserted a chocolate candy into (Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares). Ghirardelli has several kinds of chocolate ones and the package color changes with each different type, so I chose the package that matched her school colors. I also used the quote from Confucius "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." I cut out an actual heart from my die cuts and glued that onto the tag part in the back of the plastic package.
For my sons, I saw on Pinterest.com a glass bulb filled with candy and a saying that said "Here's to your bright future!" I found these at Michaels' Craft and Hobby stores for $1.99. They had colored ones too for $2.99. Found ribbon with the Class of 2014 on it at Michael's too. I filled the bulbs with M & M's for cost saving reasons, but yellow Lemon Heads would have been perfect!
Dessert table food is easy. These can be found all over Pinterest. The Reeses candy with the chocolate flat candy on top to create a graduation cap that was featured on Bakerella.com, I did this for my daughters party and found that they took too much time. For my son's I found on Pinterest, Reese's with a black paper top glue gunned to the top and then a string attached to the top to represent a graduation cap. These were easy peasey. I found gold metallic thin ribbon at a craft store and tied a knot on one end. I punched a hole into the black craft paper square, threaded the ribbon through so it would stop at the knot and then cut the
ribbon accordingly. When the craft paper was glue gunned to the candy it created a seal. I made these several days in advance. Much easier, looks just as nice. The other ideas for the dessert table are ring pops with a tag that says "Class Rings," smarty candies that has a placecard that states "You Did it Smarty Pants," Nerds - obviously for the Nerds in the class, and Extremes for the extreme personalities in the class. I also
took the Pepperidge Farm cookies and tied a ribbon around them and made a placecard
The main course, my husband made. We had a traditional bar-be-que with steak, tri tip, sausages, scallopped potatoes, two different kinds of green salad, corn on the cob, his version of baked beans which was three different canned brands mixed together with brown sugar and some bar-be-que sauce (very yummy!). Plus corn bread and garlic bread. It was a lot of work. My daughter's we had it catered and I would go that route again.
Appetizer's were simple. On each table we had crackers, Chex Mix, grapes and M & M's. We served these cracker and veggie cups with the Ranch Dressing already in. The bar was set up for the adults. I made a sign with drinks named after graduation terms.
The other festive element is helium balloons. I had them throughout the house. It just looks like a part with balloons on the ceiling with the long ribbon tails. I just wished it was easier to dispose of the helium tanks since my city does not recycle, I have to drive them out to a recycling center in another town. Plus I decorate my bunny statue in the front walk way. She wore a graduation cap in a small size. I got from Party City. They had a stone in it and used them to anchor balloons. I took the stone part out and weaved a ribbon through the hole and tied it around the bunny's neck.
Party City also had The Party's Here signs for the lawn. I bought several and used them to line the walkway up to the house. I then diverted the guests to enter through the side gate to the back yard - so I could keep the front door closed. Another cute idea was to have pictures of the graduate in various stages of schooling used to line the walk way. The pics were on a round stick. Or a garland made of various school pics to decorate a wall. I saw this on Pinterest as well. Where would we be without Pinterest?
Other items on your list should be tables and chairs, table cloths, a game maybe. My son had a swimming party and thus some of the graduation balls were in the pool to decorate. Tables away from the adults so the kids can have their own group. I served small sodas. I don't know why, but whenever I have a party I always find FULL soda cans all over. This way the person finished the soda. I always take a photo of the graduate with the guest and use the photo on the Thank You card. This way I don't buy thank you cards and the personal touch is always remembered. Besides, who does not want a picture of themselves?
I hope this gives you some ideas. I looked for a site with a detailed party idea and could not find one, so I decided to blog what I had done - then it is handy! Happy Graduation!