Any time you are planning an event with a lot of emotion tied to it, there is going to be stress. Graduation is one of those events in life. As a graduate you are stressed about what to wear, your date, the transportation choice for the “red carpet” entrance, your corsage or boutonnière, your hair, etc. As the parent (who is usually the party planner), you are stressed about wanting to create a nice day for your graduate, coupled with the fact that he/she is “all grown up” and that makes you a little wistful for the diaper days….. Tears are to be expected.
When I trained for my first marathon, I told everyone that my goal was to finish “upright and smiling”. So, for all of you parents planning graduation festivities for your children, let’s give you some tips so that you can finish “upright and smiling”.
§ Make a note…a “thank you” note: Think about how you are going to say thank you before you say thank you. Encourage the graduate to create a thank you card perhaps using a personal photo scanned into the home computer. Ensure that these thank you notes are completed and delivered in the days immediately following graduation.
§ Accept help when offered: When your friend or neighbour offers to lend a hand, accept it graciously. When my children graduated, my friend Sue spent hours preparing meat trays and cutting up vegetables. She also did my dishes, which was no small feat!
§ Hire a housekeeper: If you can afford it, hire a housekeeper who can come clean a couple of days before the party. You won’t regret it!
§ Make up the bed in the RV: The RV can become an additional bedroom when entertaining out of town guests. Don’t forget to ensure that the heater is working as the evening may get chilly and you don’t want your guests shivering all night. Another nice touch is to have a small coffee maker in the trailer all ready to go so that in the morning they can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee before coming inside.
§ Plan ahead: Make sure that you have enough chairs, dishes, glasses, etc. for everyone who is attending. If you don’t have enough or are “close”, borrow from friends. Have them bring the item(s) over the day before so you are not scrambling at the last minute.
§ Stay Cool: You WILL run out of room in the refrigerator. Borrow coolers ahead of time, they will become temporary refrigeration.
§ Prep ahead: Plan your menu so that you aren’t stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Create a menu where some items can be prepared in the days leading up to the event and then frozen. The food can then be reheated in slow-cookers which double as serving dishes.
§ Don’t forget the ice! Purchase it ahead of time. If it is a nice weekend, you will go through lots of ice just for the beverages and no one is going to have time to keep refilling ice trays. Ice is also needed to keep dishes like potato salad at the correct temperature. Here is a trick for you. Find a clean, plastic storage tub “lid” that is at least 3 inches deep. The lid now goes onto your table and you fill it with ice, becoming a “cooling” tray for your shrimp, salads, etc. Just nestle the bowls in the ice!
§ Bring the inside outside! If you are entertaining on the deck, don’t be shy about bringing some non-traditional items outside to create a cozy atmosphere. Table lamps look spectacular outside!
§ Create opportunities: Friends and family are going to come to the event to see the graduate in his/her finery and to wish them well. Make sure that you have created this opportunity. Set up an old fashioned “photo booth” so that everyone can get a photo of the graduate. A simple backdrop, seating and voila! Photo booth a la grad 2010.
§ Comfortable yet chic: This isn’t the time to break in new shoes…., dress comfortably but at the same time, dress to impress. Remember, you will be in many of the photos too!
§ Drink with care: As much as you would love to relax with a large glass of wine, remember you are on speed dial for your graduate. They need to be able to call you for a ride if necessary and drinking and driving is a no-no.