It's Graduation Party Time!!! - Call for a quote on items you are interested in serving!
Step One: Who are these people?
Who's coming to the party? Graduation parties can range from close family get-togethers to larger affairs with great-great-aunt Maudes, third cousins-twice removed, lots of friends and half the neighborhood. Get a list -start now if you haven't already--so you'll have the information you need to make the rest of your party decisions and enough time to go over the list to make sure you didn't forget anyone.
Step Two: Where are we going?
Most graduation parties are backyard events. There are always exceptions to this rule, though. If you're in an apartment, have a backyard that's on the smaller side or want to avoid spills, breaks or (ugh!) cleanups, you might consider looking into renting space. Park pavilions, banquet halls, churches, bowling alleys or even the "party room" at a favorite spot are all options, depending on the size of your party and the size of your budget.
If you're staying in your home/backyard/garage, consider seating. Whether you have 50, 80 or 100 people on your guest list, you should make sure that they have a place to sit, eat and get out of the sun. Renting chairs, tables and a tent is a common, quick solution--but you'd better be ready to order in advance.
Step Three: How much grub?
Remember that guest list? Victoria suggsts dividing it into A, B and C groups. The A's are friends and relatives that you know are coming and will probably stick around for a while; B's are the friends and neighbors that you invite but probably won't linger; C's are the Kids--the graduate's friends that come. By dividing the list into three groups, you can avoid ordering too much food.
Step Four: Chow time
There are certain grad party staples that are, by now, surefire crowd pleasers. We're talking fried chicken, baked chicken, BBQ, party trays and potato salad! You can't really go wrong with these, but new favorites are making their way onto the backyard buffet line all the time! Victoria, says that in addition to the "American Favorites," there are also Italian menu options and party buffets -all featuring slightly different twists on the standards. The catering options range from $7.99 to $14.75 per person, and Victoria suggests ordering as soon as possible.
Step Five: Cheers!
There is magic in variety. You're going to need a range of drinks for people of all ages and with all preferences. If you do choose to serve alcohol with underage children present, make sure that there is a responsible adult supervising the beverages at all times. I've put together a list of beverage station items to keep on hand. Quantity should reflect the guest list, of course.
-Full-caffeine/full-sugar "dark" pop, such as Coke or Pepsi
-Diet/sugar-free version of above
-"Clear" pop, like 7-Up or Sprite
-Fruity pop, like orange or grape soda
-Wine coolers, or something similar, such as hard lemonade
-Wine, sparkling wine and/or champagne
-Hard alcohol staples: vodka, rum, scotch, gin, tequila, triple sec, vermouth
-Garnishes: lemon and lime slices, maraschino cherries, olives
-A book of drink mixes
If you'd prefer to leave visible bottles of alcohol to a minimum, punches and pitchers of mixed drinks made ahead of time are a great way to provide a hard-alcohol option without setting out a full bar. For a grad party, I'd suggest a champagne punch and a few mixed pitchers that reflect the graduate's school colors. Again, make sure that everyone is aware of the drinks that contain alcohol, and that minors do not have access.
Step Six: Bring on the Cake!
Gone are the days of a solid white cake. The major trend for graduation parties has been to be as unique as possible.
Half-and-half cakes are also requested more frequently, featuring two different types of cake. Because graduation cakes are often a little more artistic or detailed, cakes should be ordered about two to three weeks ahead of time. Prices range from $30 for half a sheet, to more than $51 for a full sheet. Special decorations are extra.
Step Seven: Where do we put all these balloons?
School colors are classic graduation party décor, but be careful about going overboard.
Some people spend a couple hundred dollars on graduation party stuff. They get massive amounts of napkins and balloons, and everything has 'Graduation' on it. We suggest getting a few dozen balloons to put out as focal pieces on certain tables, such as the dessert table--and ordering in advance. Advance orders can be arranged to be picked up at any time, while a walk-in order during prime graduation party season can take up to two hours to fill. Ordering by the middle of May will help guarantee colors and styles.
Other decorations should reflect the graduate. Setting out photo albums or photo boards is a great way to show friends and family what was done, experienced or accomplished prior to graduation.
That's it--seven easy steps to ensure all the graduation party essentials are in place. No emergencies, no "oopsies," and plenty of time to party!