A Graduation party is a wonderful event for you and your child. It is a time to celebrate not only their graduation, but their passage into “adulthood” and the continuation of their education if they will be moving onto college or further studies.
Sit down with your graduate and agree on who to invite. They will have a list of “must invite” friends and you can supply a list of adults to invite. If you send holiday cards, start with that mailing list. Cross off people you decide not to invite and combine the rest with your graduate's list. Make sure you have included family and extended relatives too. Don't forget neighbors, teachers, coaches, co-workers (graduates and yours) and other friends of the family.
If there are people you are not inviting to the party because of distance, it's too hard for them to travel, or you have people you realize would love to know about your child's graduation but you don't know them well enough to invite them to the party, you may want to put them on a separate list and mail them a graduation announcement instead of a graduation party invitation. Also, once you have your final mailing list, make sure you keep it handy to make sending thank you notes much easier.
Coordinate the party date with important people such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, the graduate's best friends (and yours), restaurant, caterer, photographer, etc. before you settle on the date and time. Also make sure your graduate gets that party date off from his job!
You may want to consider sending “Save the Date” cards well in advance of your party date (eight weeks or more) so guests can mark their calenders. The end of the school year fills up fast with other graduates' parties, summer vacations, weddings, so the earlier you can let guests know your plans, the better turnout you will have. For out-of-town guests, you might include names and phone numbers or websites of local hotels and attractions in your area. Remember that your graduate will be busy going to their friends parties and will probably be too busy to spend a lot of time visiting outside of their party time. Don't schedule yourself too thin, you might be invited to those parties too!
Typically, your graduate will have talked about his upcoming party with their friends, in person and by cell phone, facebook, twitter and other social media sites. They will coordinate amongst themselves who is having a party and when, and create their own party schedule so as to not miss any of their friends graduation parties. You may decide to have your graduate pass out invitations at school, but if possible, it is better to mail them so people aren't forgotten and important adults will be sure to receive the invite. Address the graduation party invitation envelopes to include who is invited such as “The Smith Family” (which would invite all members of the Smith family); “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Jason Smith” (the Smith Family's graduate); or if you are only inviting the adults, to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” If you are inviting the parents of your graduate's friends, be sure their names are on the invitation envelope so they will know they are invited as well as their graduate.
When our son graduated from high school, we mailed graduation party invitations to everyone and then created what he described as “the Ultimate Pocket Invitation” for him to hand out at school and during the graduation practice and ceremony. We worried that we'd have hundreds of kids show up, but we ended up with a wonderful, manageable crowd with several groups arriving and departing at different times, eating a few appetizers, grabbing a bottle of water, then leaving to go to the next party on their list. The adults enjoyed meeting and mingling with a steady flow of our son's friends and it was fun for everyone.
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...Preparing your House for a Party
...What to include on Invitations