It’s that time of the year when many parents of high school seniors are debating the pros and cons of throwing their teen a graduation party. For some, it’s a family tradition and a given that you host such a bash to celebrate this happy milestone. For others, the idea of hosting such a party can strike some fear. The costs are not only about all those little details that can eat up a bunch of your time and create needless stress. We’re looking at you, Pinterest!
High school graduation party ideas
1. The Gang’s All Here
Once you’ve survived a single high school graduation party season, you realize that you keep seeing the same seniors and families over and over again at multiple parties. Most high school kids hang out in packs. And this means that they are inviting many of the exact same guests to their parties.
It only makes sense to consolidate invitation lists and pool your best graduation party ideas into one event. In party lingo, this translates to “Stuff sixty kids with one huge sheet cake.”
2. Consolidate Those Resources
As with most parties, not just graduation celebrations, a singular host wakes up the next morning staring at way too many leftovers, enough soda to swim in, and plastic or paper products to last a year. Oh, and don’t forget the balloons and centerpieces you spent money on as well.
When you have four or five families sharing decoration and refreshment costs, you can buy products in bulk, spend less money on food and beverages, and have more resources for things like games and party activities. And if there are leftovers, you have more families to distribute them to!
3. Everyone’s an Expert
With a group graduation party, each parent can shine in her or his own way. You’ll find someone who loves to drive all over town and scour stores for the best deals on tablecloths and napkins. One Mom will be the crafty type who lives for sewing beautiful and “extra” pennant banners in school colors, one has a killer brownie recipe and will volunteer to manage the dessert table and someone’s sister works for a florist who can supply flowers or decor, like a balloon garland, at a discount.
There’s bound to be at least one Dad with DIY skills and tools to make a wood pallet or PVC pipe and Instagram-ready photo backdrop and another who’s co-worker is a DJ or owns a food truck. Let people run with what they do best and take advantage of numerous networks.
4. Strength in Numbers
Whether you are planning a backyard graduation party, having it at a local park, or in a community center, it’s great to have a whole group of parents who are “in charge” and watching out to make sure teens stay safe and the fun doesn’t get out of hand.
High school graduation parties seem to be notorious for crashers showing up and sometimes getting disruptive. If your party includes alcohol for the adults, it is very helpful to have lots of eyes on who has access to those drinks.
5. Planning “Meetings”
Party preparation can be just as fun as the event itself when you have an assembly of moms doing the planning. When we were planning a group party for my son and four of his friends, we’d meet up periodically at the neighborhood community center to discuss our progress, create photo posters for our kids, share shacks and wine and a lot of laughs.
Two years later, we still find time to get together and share news about our kids who are off at college.
A few group party logistics to keep in mind:
- Your very first task should be coming up with a budget that each family is comfortable with.
- If one of the families can host a backyard party, great, otherwise you’ll need to find a space for your gathering.
- Pick a date that works for each family. (More on that below.)
- Decide if you are going to have a themed party that you can carry out with a few easy DIY party decorations.
- Have the teens create an agreed upon “collective friends” invitation list, then let the parents decide how many more invites each family is allowed. Make sure your own private invitees know they do not need to bring a gift for each of the graduates involved.
- Cut down on costs by purchasing beverages from membership stores like Costco and consider having each family bring cookies, cupcakes or other sweet treats and desserts. This leaves more money for catering entrée food only. Food does not need to be anything fancy – a taco bar is a popular option.
- At the party, have a box designated for each graduate that can hold any cards or gifts they might receive.
- Keep kids busy with fun activities. Find friends and neighbors willing to lend board games, ping-pong tables, a karaoke machine, Twister, and corn hole games that you can order with college designs.
- Photo props like glasses and hats are easily found at any dollar store or on Amazon. For a fun splurge, look into renting a photo booth for the occasion.
- And my favorite party tip of all is to host your event before the kids’ actual graduation day. (The week before high school graduation is usually not a very busy time at school and the kids are finished studying anyway.) This way, you avoid your party overlapping with others, people have yet to develop party fatigue, and you are then free to thoroughly enjoy your child’s graduation ceremony and others’ celebrations in the following days.
Cheers to the Class of 2022!
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