Frequently Asked Questions

 

Over the past five years we have received hundreds of questions form people from all over the world.  Here are the most frequently asked questions.  If this does not answer your question, please Ask the Expert!

 

Q  What if it rains?

A  Renting a tent for an outdoor party is like buying weather insurance. Call early. Itís a simple case of supply and demand. While you're at it, look at some of the other cool things you can rent like a slushy machine. See a big list to get inspired at Party Rentals.

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Q  Who should we invite?

A  Everyone has a different opinion on this one. We recommend erring on the side of over inviting, as we don't like to leave anyone out of the fun. There are no set expectations, but it should be up to the guest of honor. If this is your first party, you may be surprised by how many adults are invited to parties. Parents of friends, teachers, coaches, neighbors, even close coworkers. For more details see our Graduation Invitations page.

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Q  How should the invitation be worded if the party is being held at a friend's or relative's house?

A  We suggest: "Hosted by Bill and Barb Anderson" and their address. Or "At the home of Bill and Barb Anderson". It depends on how they feel too. Some people interpret the word "host" to mean they are paying for everything, but it could also mean they are participating in some way. If they are close friends or related, you could add "Hosted by our dear friends, the Andersons" or "Hosted by Sue's Godparents, the Anderson's". Either way, you should definitely include their names with the address.

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Q  How far in advance should invitations be mailed?

A  We recommend mailing invitations through the U.S. Mail 3 weeks prior to the party. If you're inviting out of town guests, contact them with the date as soon as possible so they can schedule their trip. Many people send a "save the date" card or e-mail to alert their friends. This helps to avoid close friends hosting parties at the same time.

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Q  What should the RSVP date be?

A  Unfortunately people usually do not respond to RSVP. It's a very busy time of year and people may say yes and then something comes up. Don't take it personally if people don't contact you. It's frustrating, but you just have to estimate for food, beverages, etc. If you invite 100 people, expect 60 to come.

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Q  Can my graduate hand deliver the invitations?

A  Do not rely on your graduate to pass out invitations to parents of friends. It's best to mail them. We've heard many stories of invitations never making it to the parents. Feelings were hurt on both sides. Address the envelope so the parents know they are invited. Options include: "The Anderson Family" (in which case they may bring the whole family) or "Jon, Mary and Ashley Anderson" (in which case Jon and Mary should bring their graduate).

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Q  Should the party be held before or after graduation?

A  We strongly recommend having your party before graduation. People are excited to attend the open houses, and are not exhausted from going to so many. You also have a much better chance with caterers and rental companies if you plan a celebration in May instead of June. However, look out for Memorial Day and our favorite, Mother's Day. The parties that are held in May, before Memorial Day, usually get the best turn-out.

 

Does your school organize a Baccalaureate service (a nondenominational service)? If so, hosting your party immediately following this service is a great choice. People who attend the service are especially grateful to have a chance to visit with old friends.

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Q  How long should a graduation party last?

A  We recommend a three hour window for your celebration. Go to our Choose a Date webpage for tips and hints on how to select the best date and time for your party.

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Q  What is an appropriate gift for friends?

A  This is a very personal decision. Gifts we've seen vary from a picture frame with a group photo in it, home made bars, candy, supplies for college, and the easy one - money. One of our favorite ways to write a check for close friends is to use the graduation year for the amount (e.g. $20.10). We've prepared a list of popular gift ideas. Check them out at Gift Giving and Receiving.

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Q  What is the proper amount of money to give when responding to a graduation announcement from high school?

A  There is no right or wrong answer with this one. It depends on so many things ... where you live, your financial situation, how well you know the graduate, etc. Any amount would be appreciated. Go with what makes you feel good and with what you feel you can afford. Having said all that, an amount equal to the year (eg: $20.10) is a popular amount.

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Q  When invited to a graduation party for two and you don't know one of them, is it okay not to give a gift to the one you don't know?

A  There is absolutely no need to give a gift to the grad you don't know. In fact, it's not even necessary to give a gift to the grad you know! It's thoughtful and will be appreciated, but not necessary.

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Q  Is it proper to open graduation gifts during the party or should you wait until the end?

A  Most grads do not open gifts during the party. Most gifts are money, so there is little for your guests to see. However, sometimes one of your guests will ask you to open their gift (maybe they want to see your reaction). If this happens, open the gift and express your gratitude (or laugh, as the case may be). But do not open other gifts. For other gift related tips & ideas, visit our Gift Giving & Receiving page.

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Q  Should I ask someone to help me during the party?

A  Absolutely! This is critical. You cannot cook the food, serve drinks, clean up empty glasses, clean up spills, reset the DVD player, and still be the congenial host and introduce your friends and neighbors. Donít have your head in the oven when the door bell rings! Ask for help! If you try to do it all, you wonít have any fun at all! We suggest two friends or neighbors who may have a graduation party of their own coming up. You can help them. For more suggestions on managing your "help" look at "Ask for Help".

Back to topRed hot chili pepper aprons

 

Q  What is appropriate to give as a thank you for those, such as family members, that help you during the party?

A  We've heard of several fun thank you gifts. One of our friends that served a Mexican taco bar with the help of two neighbors bought them both these red hot chili pepper aprons. My sister-in-law gave me a photo of the grad party kitchen crew (we had a great time!) and a flowering plant for my garden. A gift certificate to a nice local restaurant would be appropriate.

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Q  Is it okay to serve alcoholic beverages to the graduates?

A  Absolutely not. Design your graduation party so it is free spirited, but "spirit-free". Keeping the graduates entertained at parent-sponsored and supervised parties can prevent a tragedy. Do not serve alcohol to minors. Even if no one gets injured, adults that provide alcohol to minors can be charged with a gross misdemeanor and go to jail for up to one year and be fined thousand's of dollars.

 

Graduation Tip

Tip:  If you host your party during the day, your adult guests won't even miss alcoholic beverages.

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Q  Is there a place that you can recommend to purchase college logo paper products and decorations?

A  Go to your future college web site. They usually have logo related items to order on line.

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Q  Where can I buy theme-related centerpieces and table decorations such as musical instrument centerpieces?

A  You can buy theme related centerpieces and decorations at you local party store or at any online party store. For example, for music-related table decoration you can find a "musical note" centerpiece, musical note votive holders, musical note mylar balloons and a saxophone mylar balloon.

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Q  Is there a good way to calculate how much food to have?

A  This is the magic question... Since most graduation parties are open houses it is impossible to predict how many guests will come and even harder to calculate their appetite. We have prepared a food planning guide.  See Menu Planning.

 

Graduation Tip

Tip:  Most people have way too much food and end up with a lot of leftovers.  So, stock up on disposable containers to share your leftovers.

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Q  For a graduation party held at a restaurant, is it customary for people to pay for their own meals?

A  Most people would expect the host to pay for the meal. If some people offer to pay, great. But you should be prepared to pick up the remainder of the tab.

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Q  Is it okay to have a party for an eighth grade graduation?

A  We've heard of a few schools putting on graduation parties for their students moving on to high school but very few people host private parties. If you would like to have a private party why not make it a group thing and invite the friends and classmates who are also moving on. Rather than making it a "graduation party" you could make it an "end of the year" celebration. 

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Read through all our FAQ's but still can't find the answer? Why not ask our Graduation Party Expert? Submit your question and we'll get back to you within 48 hours. Just go to our Ask the Expert page!