Let me just start off saying, this seems scarier than it actually is. For many of you, this is the biggest party you’ve thrown since your own wedding. DO NOT THINK ABOUT THAT. This is nothing like your wedding, nor should it be. This is about your graduate, and should reflect THEM! The child that frequently doesn’t pickup after themselves.
When you start planning your party, think about what your goal with this party is. Is it to see old friends and family? Is it simply to celebrate your child’s accomplishments? Is it to raise money for their “Life After School” plans? It can be one, all, or none of these (though we’re not exactly sure how you could manage the last one), and that’s alright! But it is helpful when you start planning to think about your goal BEFORE you begin your browsing of the many options you have for this party.
Next, SET YOUR BUDGET. If your goal is to raise money for their “Life After School” plans, it doesn’t make much sense to spend more money than will be raised. If your hope is to celebrate your child and raise money? It may make sense to spend a bit more money on a “Dunk the Graduate” Tank. If this is really just an excuse to throw a party, you may want to splurge on the crystal chandelier (I am kidding about that. Unless you really like that idea, in which case, please let us know right away, and we will find one for you!) The important thing to remember when you’re going around looking at things, is to remember what you notice at other graduation parties. Do you notice the chairs? Did you pay attention to the fact that this party had linen while this one only had plastic? Or were you too distracted by both of them blowing around to notice what they were made of?
Next, consider your date. The second and third week of June tend to be the most popular for graduation parties. For your school, it will probably be the weekend immediately following graduation. There are some benefits/drawbacks to holding your party those weeks. For one, you get your party over with. It’s nice to be able to finish your event right away. Secondly, you are sharing your day with many other people, which means sharing your food costs with everyone else. People are not going to stay at one party the whole time during those weeks, so they are more snacking at each of the parties. The downsides? Because those are the busiest weeks, you are competing with the other parties. When there are so many parties going on, there are times where people just will not be able to make your party work. We suggest that if there are friends who are graduating the same year who you really want at your party and you at theirs, to somewhat coordinate your times. You can still have them on the same day, but maybe not at the exact same time. The other downside is that rental items do end up scarce during those weeks. If you are planning on having your party during one of those weeks, you should plan on reserving your items as soon as possible. Most years things are nearly all reserved by the end of April. The earlier you reserve, the more you have to choose from. While there may be items still available after April, they may be more expensive than you wanted to spend, or in an older condition than you would have liked.
The benefits/downsides of having your party later in the year are the exact reverse of having it right away, with the only additional downside is that the later your party is, the more likely people are to be away at college, or to have forgotten about it. That usually only happens if your party is in late July or August. This may or may not actually be a selling point for the late summer grad party.
After you’ve figured out your goal, budget, and date, you just have to go out there and make your choices. Each party is different and the same, so don’t stress about it. There really is no standard right and wrong, just what’s right and wrong FOR YOU. So go with your gut, and enjoy it! The next party you may have to plan could be their wedding.