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10 grad party success tips

Graduation season is a bustling time of year. Not only are there many school-sanctioned, graduation-related events to attend, but also job fairs or other opportunities for grads to contend with.

Many soon-to-be graduates also host parties of their own. Even though the school lessons may be finished, there is still much to learn, especially as it applies to throwing a successful party that marks the end of school.

1. Set a budget. As with any other party planning, a budget is key to determining the scope and affordability of what you may have in mind. It may dictate whether you’re hosting a party at home with some finger foods or hosting something more elaborate.

2. Speak to your graduate. Ask the future graduate what he or she desires of the party. After all, this is about the grad and not necessarily the parents. Does he or she want a party at all? If so, should it be an intimate gathering or a come-one, come-all event?

3. Pick a date carefully. If your town’s school has graduation in May or June, you’ll be fighting the crowds and competing with many other people for vendors and services. Think about hosting the graduation party after party season slows down, such as in July. This reduces the likelihood of scheduling conflicts.

4. Send invitations early. The experts at Shutterfly.com advise sending invitations at least a month in advance of the party. This way guests can mark the date and plan accordingly. Formal invitations are fitting for a formal occasion, so skip the casual invite text and use a paper or digital invitation instead.

5. Clue in neighbors. If the idea is to have a party at home, don’t leave neighbors in the dark about a large group of people descending on the street. Be courteous and let them know you’re expecting crowds and noise. Better yet, invite some neighbors to join in the fun.

6. Provide extra seating. Give guests plenty of places to congregate. Borrow or rent extra tables and chairs to maximize comfort.

7. Consider catering. Whether you host a party at home or at a venue, professional caterers can take a big load off of your shoulders. Let the experts calculate how much food is needed and then be on call to set up chafing dishes or buffet bars. If your grad prefers fast food, many franchises now offer catering as well.

8. Set up beverage stations. Chances are you’ll have a mix of adults and underage guests in attendance. Set up alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage stations that are clearly marked. Enlist the help of someone to monitor the spirits so that everyone drinks responsibly.

9. Share the memories. A photo board or another way to highlight photos of the graduate can take guests on a trip down memory lane.

10. Plan some activities. Whether it’s a DJ, a favorite game like volleyball or a karaoke machine, give guests something to do to stay engaged.

Graduation parties are something to think about well in advance of the big day. With planning and follow-through, special occasions can be successful.