This summer brings more than sunshine and a break from school. Your graduate worked hard for that degree. Now it’s time for you, the party planner, to do some homework of your own. Start by studying our complete (and downloadable!) party planning guide for throwing an A+ graduation bash. As you may know, planning the perfect party isn’t easy. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
ONE MONTH before part
[ ] Pick a date that works best—it doesn't have to be the weekend of the graduation ceremony.
[ ] Finalize your guest list.
– Don't be afraid to invite friends and family who live far away. Even if they can't make it, they can still send a gift for the new grad!
– Ask the graduate for a list of school friends, teachers or professors he or she would like to invite.
[ ] Find a photo of the graduate for your custom party invitations. Try to get them in the mail with about three weeks to spare.
[ ] Reserve party tents, catering company, dunking booth, etc.
THREE WEEKS before party
[ ] Assemble food and drinks menu/grocery list.
– Expect about 75% of invitees to actually attend.
– Hors-d'oeuvres should be easy to eat and easy to prepare ahead of time.
– Save a couple bucks with 2-liter bottles rather than a bunch of soda cans.
[ ] Let your party stand out from the rest by ordering custom cups, personalized napkins, coasters and plates.
– Not sure how many to order? See our Product Ordering Guidelines!
[ ] Plan party decorations and table centerpiece.
TWO WEEKS before party
[ ] Make music arrangements (speakers, iPod dock, playlist, karaoke, etc.).
[ ] Build a slideshow or frame a few of your favorite photos of the graduate.
[ ] Construct a giant card or buy a guest book for party guests to sign.
[ ] Get creative with personalized gift bags!
[ ] Pre-order a cake and other desserts—custom stir sticks make great cupcake toppers!
ONE WEEK before party
[ ] Prepare food that can be frozen and easily reheated.
[ ] Check the weather report and prepare as necessary.
[ ] Make a list of equipment you still need (chairs, tables, tent, etc.).
[ ] Find lawn games for entertaining (badminton set, Frisbee, croquet, bocce ball, etc.).
ONE-TWO DAYS before party
[ ] Thoroughly clean the house and manicure the yard.
[ ] Check the weather report again and make room inside if necessary.
[ ] Get out the tables, tent and decorations.
[ ] Charge your camera and make sure you have plenty of space for more photos/videos.
[ ] Notify the neighbors about the party and parking situation—or extend an invitation!
[ ] Set out several large trash bins with extra bags in the bottom.
[ ] Prepare the remaining food.
[ ] Keep cold food in the fridge until the first guests arrive.
[ ] Prepare hot food last and hold in a warm oven.
[ ] Label coolers and fill with beverages and plenty of ice.
[ ] Establish table for graduation gifts, card box and party favors.
[ ] Check bathrooms for toilet paper, towels, custom matchbooks, toothpicks, etc.
[ ] Set out food, cups, napkins, plates and utensils.
[ ] Get lawn games ready for party guests.
[ ] Tie balloons or custom ribbons to the mailbox.
[ ] Turn on the music.
[ ] Give your graduate a big hug and try not to cry.
As you may know, planning the perfect party isn't easy. But don't worry, we're here to help! If you found this party planning checklist helpful, check out our party planning resource section for even more tips and inspiration.