Graduating from college is a huge achievement, so a celebration is definitely in order. Whether you're the one graduating or you're looking for a way to honor someone else who's earned their diploma, a graduation party is an excellent way to mark the occasion.
It's not the kind of party you throw every day, however, so you may need some advice on planning. Check out these college graduation party dos and don'ts to help you out.
1. DO think carefully about the guest list.
Will the party be a family affair, a friends-only gathering, or a mix of the two? If you're mixing friends and family, you'll want to balance the guest list so there aren't a few lonely family members with nobody to talk to — or vice versa. If you're the one who's graduating, you'll know who you want to invite, but if you're throwing a graduation party for a son, daughter, or partner, it's a bit more tricky. Unless it's a surprise party, we recommend that you give the final vote on invites to the graduate. You might be footing the bill, but it's their party, so they deserve to have a say.
2. DON'T forget to tell your neighbors.
If the party is likely to run late into the night, tell your neighbors about it beforehand — and maybe even consider inviting them. After all, nothing puts a damper on a celebration like the cops showing up. Of course, you should be considerate and try not to disturb your neighbors too much, but they're more likely to be understanding if they know in advance that you'll be celebrating and what the occasion is.
3. DO plan carefully ahead of time.
Party planning is a complicated affair. You'll need to send invitations in advance, compile your final guest list once people have RSVP'd, determine the menu and who will be preparing the food, buy drinks, amass enough glasses and dinnerware, and plan your music or other entertainment. And that's just for starters! Do spend a significant chunk of time on planning phase; don't just invite a bunch of people and assume the details will figure themselves out.
4. DON'T give yourself too much to do on the big day.
Whether you're the person graduating or the graduate's biggest cheerleader, graduation day is likely to be super busy. Don't save too much party-related work for the big day. Hire a caterer if your budget stretches to it, or enlist friends and family to help out. Delegate as many tasks as possible, and try to do most of the heavy lifting several days in advance.
5. DO make a killer playlist.
Graduation is a time for celebration — you might want to dance! Put together a great playlist that will make people want to hit the dance floor. This is especially vital if your celebration will run into the night.
6. DON'T forget to send thank you notes.
It's traditional to bring a gift to a graduation party, though times are changing, and the graduate shouldn't necessarily expect gifts. If gifts are received, however, sending thank yous is a must. The type of thank you note depends on who gave you the gift and your relationship with them. To a close friend or sibling, you might just send a text or email. However, older family members or family friends will probably expect a written thank you card.
7. DO make a thorough shopping list.
Here are some items for your shopping list.
Decorations: You'll want the party venue to look appropriately festive, so decorations are in order. The decorations you choose come down to your personal taste, but you might want to consider a banner to congratulate the graduate, balloons, or bunting in the grad's college colors.
Bluetooth speaker: If you want music at your party, you'll need a way to play it. A Bluetooth speaker or other wireless speaker, such as the Sonos Play:1, lets you play music straight from your phone or tablet. You could even stream it straight from Spotify or another music streaming service of your choosing.
Tableware: Unless you regularly throw large parties, you'll probably need extra plates, serving dishes, glasses, and such. While you could rent these items, it may be cheaper to buy them. After the party, you could then sell them or keep them for future use. Alternatively, you could choose quality disposable options, such as these biodegradable palm leaf plates from Verde Planet.
Thank you cards: If you're the one graduating, you'll definitely need some thank you cards — they're appropriate whether you're thanking people for gifts or for their general support. We love these contemporary looking thank you cards from Juvale as well as these rustic Kraft paper options.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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