When my beautiful niece graduated from the University of Kentucky, I had recently purchased a new home and thought her graduation would be the perfect excuse for me to host a party. Because I had just moved in, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to plan, but we pulled it off and it was so much fun. Here are five tips for hosting a simple and stress-free graduation party. And don’t worry, even in a Pandemic, there are lots of ways that you can celebrate the graduate while ensuring everyone’s safety!
1. Decorate with items you already have
Because we are big UK fans around here, it wasn’t hard to pull together decorations. I went through our closet full of items we use for tailgating at football games. I chose a hand-painted picnic basket to put gift cards in, a UK lawn chair for her to sit in while opening gifts, coolers, flags for table cloths, platters, and even pompoms. By placing these items around the house (instead of a parking lot) we instantly had our blue and white UK Wildcat theme.
2. Fresh flowers make the best centerpieces and decor.
Simply pick up some bunches of your favorite flower and put them in vases you have around the house. One tip is to pick out different flowers of the same color and arrange them together for a simple but elegant look. I am fortunate enough to live around the corner from a greenhouse that grows gorgeous lilies. I simply filled containers with fragrant, ornamental lilies and placed them around the house. Because Alexandra loves pink, we also added some geraniums into the mix. Another simple but eye catching arrangement is to use a favorite pitcher and add lemon slices and fresh cut flowers from your own yard. Blue hydrangeas are a southern favorite and the perfect size to nestle in julep cups for table arrangements.
COVID tip: Greet your guests at the door with a mask that matches the party theme. This can serve two purposes: It can be a fun way to make sure everyone is safe as well as become a take home party favor.
3. Catering is simple and convenient.
Barbecue is always a family favorite and we thought it would be easiest to have it catered along with all the sides… the slaw, potato salad and baked beans. Once you’ve delegated the main course to someone else you can focus on the extras! Consider staying within your color theme even in the food you serve. We found this white chocolate popcorn with blue and white sprinkles that went perfectly with our decor. I also suggest incorporating one family recipe that you make yourself to complete the mix. We served fruit salsa and cinnamon crisps, because we never have a party without it. For a touch of blue we added blueberries. Add this recipe to your own family traditions. You won’t be sorry.
COVID tip: For a spring graduation consider an outdoor celebration. With just a few tables and chairs spread out in the backyard everyone can comfortably sit 6 feet apart while socializing safely.
4. Let there be cake.
Next to our guest of honor, the cake was the focus of the party. Isn’t that what everyone looks for when they arrive? For this party, there were two on deck. One was the traditional fondant cake decorated in blue and white with a cute little graduation cap attached. The other was chosen because it was Alexandra’s favorite –Decadent Chocolate Buttercream. Delicious.
COVID tip: Cake pops are a fun alternative to traditional cake and are helpful in ensuring that fewer germs will be spread.
5. Minimize the drinks.
Keep it simple and just pick a few drinks to offer. It was a hot spring day in May so lemonade and water were the drinks of choice. But what’s a party without punch? For Allie’s special day we went with acitrus punch served from her mother’s heirloom punchbowl. And, in keeping with Kentucky tradition, it’s even better when you add a cup of bourbon to the recipe!
Covid tip: Keep germs at bay by providing your guests with a party themed reusable plastic cup. Guests will love taking their cups home as a memory of the special day.
Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment and a graduate’s hard work is definitely worth celebrating! By keeping it simple, throwing a graduation party can be… a piece of cake!