Preschool and Kindergarten👩🎓, Middle School and High School 👨🎓. They’ve worked hard all year and they’re ready to party hardy! Either you have a child in one of these categories (congrats!) or friends and family graduating, or both 😬, but no one is immune to the end of June stress that graduations can bring.
Step 1: Sending Your Congrats.
Comment on social media or text messages with photos when possible. This applies to everyone, from close family grads to the neighbor’s teen. Scroll back in time to find the pic of that neighbor as a younger child, or more recently helping you shovel after a storm. For family members, find a baby pic whenever possible! And, when all else fails, find a sweet graduation or good luck gif and share it.
For those children and teens in your life that you’re closer to, it is appropriate to send a card and gift. Teens and young adults prefer cash 💵 at graduation, though pass it by their parents. Outside of that classic option, you can always donate to their college fund if they have one. Gifting them a book from an expert financial planner or motivational speaker (think: Dave Ramsey or Brendan Bouchard) is not something everyone thinks to do but boy, I wish someone had given ME a gift like that!
For your younger child or relative/friend: balloons, pool toys, beach toys, bubbles! I’d say avoid candy/cookies/etc because there’s usually enough of that to make even the calmest child turn rabid. When it comes to your child, don’t burden yourself with picking the gift. Just ask them!
Step 2: Celebrating YOUR grad.
I get that Pinterest is the place you’ll go first for suggestions, but as a full time working Mom I can tell you it doesn’t take much time or fancy props to get this right. In fact, I hope you spend MORE time looking your child in the eyes and telling them how strong/brave/kind they are and less time forcing them to pose. Grab this photo or short video in the morning. While you’ll take plenty of pics at the graduation, you won’t get another chance at the child or teen a) looking their best and b) they’re alone! No one to photo bomb (unless there are siblings…)
You – the parent – are also more likely to be put together in the morning 🙃. So grab your sidewalk chalk on your way out the door and make it happen!
Step 3: Graduation 🎓
Like Thanksgiving, get your calendar in order 3 weeks ahead of time. You know what I’m talking about. Every year the Turkey Day Countdown posts come out, breaking down day by day what needs to be purchased, prepped, cleaned, and decorated so you aren’t taking a sledge hammer to a frozen bird while Santa crossed Macy’s square. 🦃🤬. Whether you’re having a big party at the house, or you’re just taking lawn chairs to the school, you’ll need more time than you think to prep.
a) Know the date and TIME of the ceremony. I can’t emphasize this enough, especially for the younger ages. It could be 10am, 3pm, 6:15pm. Who knows. Lock that time down and get off from work. It’s important that you be there!
b) Ask friends or the PTO Facebook group or even the teacher what graduation was like last year. This often gives you information you won’t get from the take home flyer. This particular strategy helped us pack extra sunscreen and folding chairs when a neighbor told us how long we’d be outside in mid day heat after the ceremony. See ridiculously large hat. Also see my son’s tank top. He wore it under his dress shirt before even leaving the house that morning , making the wardrobe change seamless.
c) Gather supplies and make your list. I have all the apps and electronic calendars and dry erase boards blah blah. When it comes to a one day event, I still turn to a list style note pad. I scribble my ideas and draw the silly arrows to other ideas and cross off the stuff I get done. There’s something organic about it that I prefer over Notes. Delegate with your spouse and relatives so you’re not carrying the whole load!
d) Throwing your party! Here I am a bit minimalist: this is not a yearly occurrence. I would not go crazy with decorations that you’ll either have to store somewhere in your home (and then never use again) or add to a land fill. Outdoor lighting, a sturdy tent, paper lanterns that can be repurposed for other outdoor (or indoor) parties, citronella candles to be used all summer, and some potted annuals are all you need. I love a good balloon bouquet truly but in June they deflate or burst before your party even gets started! And whether you BBQ or cater or potluck it, make sure you’ve got enough plastic ware (why do I ALWAYS run out of plastic spoons?) and bottled water. And a huge visible garbage can so guests can help clean up at the end 😁 ♻️
That’s it folks. Plan ahead. Take photos, but not so many you forget what the day is about! And use the party to set the tone for the whole summer: bright, fun, hopeful, and enjoyable! Congratulations to your graduate!