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Planning A Graduation Party
By John J Welsh
Every year more than three million young people graduate from high school in the United States. It is no wonder that most of us spend every weekend from the end of May to the middle of June attending graduation parties and open houses for the graduating teens of friends and family. While this time of year is indeed exciting, it can also be a bit exhausting. Especially if one of the parties you’re dealing with happens to be for your own special graduate.
Pick a Party
The first decision you and your graduate need to make is what type of graduation party they’d like to have. Large families with lots of friends sometimes choose to hold two separate events: one for extended family and one for friends of the family and teen. While some graduates and their parents like the idea of a formal sit-down dinner, others are drawn towards a backyard barbecue, potluck or appetizer buffet. Graduation party open houses are a flexible option if you plan to celebrate at home.
Make a Plan
Before you can order the graduation party announcements, you need to make a few other decisions, one of which is who will be responsible for the planning. While some teens like to be a part of the party planning, others prefer to leave it up to their parents. Finding out what your teen prefers before you proceed will prevent disagreements and hurt feelings later on.
Date and Time
The day of graduation is by far the most popular date for graduation parties. However, selecting this date may mean that your guests will have to rush around to attend multiple events. It could mean your graduate has to miss a friend’s party in order to attend his or her own. As most graduations occur on Saturday morning, you could consider having the party on Sunday afternoon. You could also consider throwing your graduate’s party the week before graduation or even a few weeks after. There is a good chance that more of your invited guests will be able to attend and enjoy the party without feeling rushed.
If you must have the party on graduation day, an open house may be your best option. You could start a couple hours after the graduation ceremony and wrap it up later in the evening, giving your guests plenty of time in which to stop by and share in the celebration.
Late May and early June are usually months full of great weather in most parts of the country (barring an afternoon thunderstorm or shower). Many families choose to hold their graduation parties outdoors, whether at their home, a park or a beach. Other popular locations include restaurants, community meeting rooms and churches. Choose your party location based on the number of people you need to accommodate as well as convenience.
The Guest List
You need to decide who will be invited before you order your graduation party invitations. Obvious choices include family and extended family, family friends and friends of the graduate. Many people invite their neighbors and acquaintances from church or other social organizations as well.
When addressing the invitations, do so in such a way as to make it clear who is invited. For example, if you are inviting a couple and their children, you may want to address the invitation to “Bob and Crystal Smith and Family,” or even just “The Smiths.” If you are not inviting children, you could address the invitation just as “Bob and Crystal Smith.”
If your teen is inviting his or her friends and their families, address the invitation in such a way that the parents know they are included. Again, stating the names of the adults is the best way to do this.
Selecting, Ordering and Mailing Invitations
Some schools offer graduation party invitations along with graduation announcements for purchase. However, a more creative, personal and usually less expensive option is to order your graduation party invitations from an online vender. You can select a graduation party invitation that uses your teen’s school colors, matches the theme of the party, or even customize the invitation with a fun photo of your teen.
The basic information you will want to ensure is on each graduation party invitation includes your teen’s name, the date of the party, the time of the party and the location of the party. You may also opt to include your teen’s school name, the class name and an RSVP request. In general, open houses do not require an RSVP. However, if you are planning a sit-down dinner, hiring a caterer or renting a venue, you may want to have an accurate count of attendees. In such cases, an RSVP request is encouraged.
Graduation party invitations should be mailed about three weeks before the event. If you are inviting out of town guests who will need to make travel arrangements, you may want to send your invitations out much earlier.
While you’re at it…
When you order your graduation party invitations, pick up some thank you notes as well. Thank you notes should be written and mailed no more than one month after your party (and the sooner the better). To make the process easy, create a list of who gave you what as you open your cards and gifts.
Every graduation gift, whether sent by mail or delivered in person, should be acknowledged with a handwritten thank you note. Mention the gift received specifically in each note. If you receive money, do not mention the specific amount in your thank you. However, do mention how you intend to spend it.
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