As promised, here is the plan I made for Lauren’s high school graduation party.
Step 1 in major party planning is the framework. (Here is my post on planning a major party.)
Lauren wanted to have the party at her Aunt Alison’s house (and my brother, Will!). Alison graciously offered and so we settled on their home for the drop-in. So our framework was for an afternoon drop-in, on the day of graduation. Light food.
Step 2: Pre-shop and Sketch
With that in mind, I made my Pinterest board and did my online pre-shopping. My common themes were sweets, gold glitter, watercolors and rustic/farmhouse.
I also knew without even looking at Pinterest, that I wanted a special cake for the table. Now, Lauren doesn’t even like cake, but I felt the occasion needed a cake AND my family has a special love connection with the cake that I did make, so it was a sentimental choice.
I made sketches.
The food table always gets most of my attention, although I have branched out over the years. Here is where I made a trial menu. This helped me know what serving pieces I might need.
The next step for me was pre-shopping. Normally at this point, I would be pulling out what I own and setting up some possibilities. However, all of my things are in storage, so this party would be a combination of borrowing and buying. And since this wasn’t being held at my house, I waited as long as possible to do a walk through of the space. I did all my pre-shopping first.
I shopped Etsy, Amazon, AC Moore, Party City, Hobby Lobby and Target. This is more shopping than I normally do. Shopping just two or three stores would be fine. I took loads of photos and then with the help of a sweet friend, narrowed my choices. By the way, I did not just shop traditional graduation colors or decorations. I did look at some black graduation decorations but did not decide to go that route. Here is a crazy picture from my phone showing what pre-shopping looks like.
I found some cute elephant decorations that I thought Lauren would love and decided on a theme with elephants (they never forget!), blush pink, white, a little bit of teal/aqua, some rustic, and a little glitter to round it out. The glitter items I found through Etsy and Amazon and my eye kept being drawn to them. I ended up using a glitter banner (Etsy) and glitter cupcake picks (Amazon). The napkins had a gold dot on them and the candle holder had gold dots. Here is a picture of some of the items I chose.
At this point, Lauren let me know that she wanted to go to our favorite place in the mountains for lunch the day of her graduation. Rocky’s Diner in Brevard, NC.
So we moved her drop-in to that Saturday, June 3. I now wanted the feeling to be more laid back since it was a Saturday afternoon. People were likely coming from mowing their lawns and taking kids to soccer practice. They would be hot and very casual.
I planned watermelon on the deck and outdoor checkers from Cracker Barrel. I planned to spread through several rooms so people wouldn’t be clogged up in one room. I told everyone to bring their kids. I added lemonade to my menu.
Step 3: Putting it together
Meanwhile, I took photos of the arrangements with my purchases and then turned all my attention to making lists.
Since I was not holding the party at my own house, it was important to really think through every detail. After shopping for my missing pieces and confirming I had everything for the tables, I then packed it all in my car a week or so before the party. That left me with only food and last minute decorations, like balloons, to manage.
These are the spaces I chose to use:
Balloons outside the house
Cards and gifts on a small entryway table
A Dr. Seuss book to sign on a buffet table in the dining room
The food table
You can see the cards and gifts here. Right past the piano. As you come into the room. And the lovely flowers Alison arranged are on top of the piano and on the coffee table.
Drinks in the kitchen
A Bible (for guests to mark a favorite verse) down in the den
Checkers and watermelon on the deck
Here is my menu:
Brown Mountain Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting – me
Kim’s Pound Cake – Kim (the only cake Lauren likes!)
Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting – me
Fruit Kabobs – my friend, Lynette
Veggie Pizzas – my mom
Homemade Mints – me (this recipe is on the site)
Creampuffs – me
Candy – Kim
Cheese Cookies (similar to cheese straws) – Strossner’s Bakery
Lemonade and Water – me
Watermelon – Missy
That should give you an idea of what I do for a big party. I do try to get help with different aspects.
Flowers – Alison
Music – Will
Photos – my hubby
If you want to see lists, a timeline or have more questions, please let me know below in the comments.