Monday, June 18, 2012

Anatomy Of The Perfect Graduation Party

My dear friend and teaching partner, Heidi, hosted a graduation party for her son this weekend. True to her usual form, she created an event with a well-balanced mix of pomp and circumstance. Here, in five easy lessons, is what she taught me about how to throw the perfect graduation party.

1. Honor traditions.

It's true that life is ever-changing and young people like to live in the here-and-now, but this is exactly why milestone events should be anchored in time-honored tradition. Eighteen-year-old boys might not know it, but when they graduate, they need to be surrounded by their relatives, decorated cakes, baby photos and vases full of roses. These traditional tokens help them see themselves in the stream of life and help us all feel part of a greater whole.

2. Add some very personal touches.

Heidi's son has a fondness for candy. I'm not talking about fine chocolate - he likes the sugary sweet kind that comes in little packages and makes your teeth throb. So Heidi prominently placed a big bowl full of his favorites in the very center of the room, right next to the fancy cake on the Table of Honor. What a great way to celebrate the individual personality of her graduate, in addition to his institutional achievements.

3. Make a big splash.

When a special day comes along, Heidi makes sure you take note. She uses garlands, Post-it Notes, messages and great big banners to alert all who enter her home about the occasion. (Yes, she loves paper as much as I do; now you know at least one of the many reasons why we are friends.) For this graduation party, shiny cut-outs of rolled diplomas and graduation caps hung from her ceiling, and the most prominent wall in her living room boasted this attention-commanding display. The scope and scale of her decorations serve notice that she has gone all out for the event, and add a big dose of excitement to the room.

4. Inject your own personal style.

Yes, the purpose of the party was to honor her son, and Heidi did a great job of making him the center of attention. But she was still the hostess of the event, and in several subtle yet highly effective ways, made her own sense of style known. For example, she filled this interesting oval-shaped glass vase with a flash mob of Gummi Bears. The effect was quirky, charming and totally Heidi.

5. Have fun!

Emotions run high at milestone events like this one, and sometimes the overall mood can be subdued. During my time at the party, I found myself overcome by bittersweet emotions when suddenly, POP! I felt something zing into the side of my head. As that small, shiny something fell to the table with a little clatter, I immediately realized what had happened. Heidi's husband, the one and only Conman, shot me in the head with his bottle cap. Oh sure, he hid in the kitchen so I couldn't see him, but I knew he did it. Thanks, Conman, for lightening my mood and making me laugh. Graduation parties should be fun.

And thanks to you, Heidi, for a great day and a wonderful party. You're amazing!

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More Anatomy Of posts for your dissection pleasure:

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