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Grad Party Insights from a Dad

Planning a high school grad party is seemingly a bigger endeavor as each year passes. It used to be a few family members and friends would be invited to drop by. Now, in many instances, grad parties are quite the production with as many as several hundred attending. In 2015, some kids are even adopting themes for their parties beyond the usual school color theme.

Having been an event producer/promoter for my entire career, I was thinking that planning a grad party should be a snap for me, but it’s a different sort of event and something I’d never done before. Now, after planning three grad parties in five years for both boys and a girl, I have quite a perspective for what goes in to making one work. One thing to immediately consider is that, in most cases, large numbers of people will be coming to your home; these people are of all ages and some you don’t even know. So…. there are many dynamics to consider. Regardless of what you are planning and where, here are a few grad party tips from my perspective.

  1. If you are planning a large party, make your house “off limits.” Utilize a garage, driveway, back yard with tent or, as I did, take the “all of the above” approach. I was fortunate to have a bathroom that could be accessed without going into my home, but I would strongly suggest renting a “porta potty.”
  2. Pick a date that works for you. There are bound to be other things happening that day, but keep in mind, some attendees will be attending other parties and will not stay for long periods of time (other than close friends and relatives). Just try to avoid a date when your grad’s best friends/relatives may also be hosting their party. And remember, there may be other parties on your date but you have control over what time your party is. I found that 1PM to 4PM worked really well.
  3. Establish your invitation list and make sure you create a spreadsheet or list so you can track RSVPs, if required, and you can also use that for entering contact information such as mailing
    addresses and can even keep track of gift info. This makes it much easier to personalize thank you cards.
  4. Be organized with your food and beverage ordering. Make sure you have a nice mix of items, and use our EventPro guides to help you determine amounts of food to order if you need help with that. A keg of 1919 Root Beer was always a hit at our parties along with bottled water, other soft drinks and coffee. Your
    coffee and beverage consumption, to a large degree, will be dictated by the weather.
  5. Cupcakes vs. cake. We did both using a small quarter sheet cake with the grad’s photo and “congrats” as a centerpiece and then cupcakes around the cake as they are less messy and all around easier to deal with. I really like the cupcake trend because they are easier to grab and no cutting or plates are needed.
  6. Are you going to have any kind of entertainment? I find for almost any kind of event background music keeps things more festive. We used a sound system and played a nice variety of music at a comfortable volume. Because the grad is the center of attention,
    I don’t recommend hiring any kind of live entertainment but the background music is a nice touch.
  7. Awards, photos and other memorabilia items are a big part of the celebration. We stuck with the more traditional photo boards and displays BUT power points and videos have become very popular and something that doesn’t take much to put together.


Each gender focuses and puts more emphasis on different aspects of the party. Boys and Girls grad parties are going to require different menu selections and decorating themes. Make sure you include your grad in all the planning. After all, it is their party.