Whether it is high school or college, graduation is a substantial achievement which deserves celebration. All the stressful exams, long nights in the library, and countless hours in the classroom have paid off. After watching them walk across the stage with their diploma and snapping pictures with friends and other families in attendance, you can’t help but look ahead to what’s next. However, now is not the time for that. Take a few days to reflect and celebrate their accomplishments.

Graduation parties are a great way for friends and family to come together in a joyous manner. However, they are extensive and time-consuming to plan. With a little guidance, you can throw the best graduation party possible! Read below to learn more about planning and hosting a graduation party!

Long-Term Preparation

In order to throw the best graduation party possible, begin planning months in advance. One of the first things you should consider is the venue. Gathering places such as banquet halls, restaurants, and parks are excellent venues, but they must be reserved months in advance. However, there are other options. You could also host the party at your own home. Many opt for this because it eliminates much of the hassle and inconvenience of booking a venue. It is also much less financially stressful. If you host at your house, there are several other steps to consider. For example, you’ll need to make sure to order tents, tables, and chairs from a supplier.

Next, you need to compile a guest list and decide how to handle invitations. Figure out how many people your venue can hold and decide which friends and family members to invite. Many opt to invite via Facebook, but you can also go the traditional route and mail physical invitations. There are benefits to each. Facebook is the easier route because it is free and only requires a few clicks, but paper invitations are more customizable. On the invitations, you’ll want to specify the date, location, and start and end time. You’ll also need to order decorations in advance. If you’re departing for or graduating from college, make sure you have lots of school spirit and gear on display. It is also customary to have a picture board or a slideshow of photos from the graduate’s time in school.

After deciding on a venue and number of guests, you’ll need to arrange for catering. Using a venue such as a restaurant eliminates this step, as they usually prepare the food themselves. You’ll simply have to provide them with the number of guests in attendance and pick items off their menu. If you are hosting at home, you can prepare food such as burgers and hot dogs yourself, but this could be time-consuming for a larger party. Most opt to use catering companies that must be booked in advance and which also require information about the number of guests and menu options.

In this situation, it is better to overestimate than underestimate because you do not want to run out of food during the party. You’ll also want to enjoy the leftovers for a day or two. Finally, you’ll want to order the cake and desserts. A graduation party isn’t complete without a customized cake and cookie table! If you host at your house, make sure you have entertainment such as music and outdoor games for your guests. Games such as cornhole (or bags, depending on your geographical upbringing) are a staple of graduation parties, and you can also set the mood right with some background music.

You’ll also want to prepare the living room or indoor hangout area. Some will naturally socialize inside, and it must be ready for the extra traffic. If, unfortunately, it rains the day of the party, everybody will gravitate indoors. The tents can only provide so much coverage, and nobody wants to stand outside in the rain. To avoid a hot and muggy party, make sure your air conditioner can handle the extra work. All of these tasks must be completed in advance and cannot be put off until the week of the party. However, there are some tasks you can complete closer to the party.

Short-Term Preparation

In the days leading up to the party, there are several things one should do. If the party is at a venue, keep in touch with the coordinators. They will require some extra information and have last-minute setup instructions for you. One of the benefits of hosting at a venue instead of your house is that they handle most, if not all, of the last-minute preparations.

For a party at home, there is much more to be done. Start by cleaning and preparing your home for the arrival of the company. This includes mowing the lawn, setting up the aforementioned decorations, cleaning the bathrooms, and preparing your outdoor hangout area by setting up the tables, chairs, and tent. Additionally, you should clean inside and make sure there are enough supplies such as paper towels and toilet paper.

Next, go to the grocery store and stock up on items such as food and drinks. You’ll need water, soda, juice, ice, and any alcoholic beverages for those of legal age. You’ll also need to prepare finger foods and appetizers such as chips, pretzels, and dips. As is the case with your main courses, it is better to have too many snacks and drinks than too few. They certainly will not go to waste after the party.

During and After the Party

Come party time, most of the preparation is complete and there is not as much to be done. For example, keep the drinks and ice stocked. If there is a spill, be alert for any necessary quick cleanup. Most importantly, enjoy the party! Mingle with the guests, thank them for coming, celebrate the joyous occasion, and take a few pictures. After the party, you can finally relax. However, there is still work to be done. You’ll have to clean up and make sure there are thank you notes sent to all the guests who brought gifts. Finally, enjoy all those leftovers!

Graduation is a joyous achievement in one’s life. As the graduate prepares to embark on their next chapter, make sure you throw the best party possible! With this guide, your party will be the talk of the class!