Friday, May 22, 2015

Graduation Party Etiquette--Planning

How to Plan a Graduation Party That Will Please Your Guests

Graduation Party Etiquette 101


Every May, I receive a flood of questions concerning graduation party etiquette.  Some questions make me a bit queasy.  Nevertheless, the etiquette consultant in me won't allow it to show up in my answers.  Although, what I'd like to say is more along the lines of, "You're kidding, right?"  The most Tums-worthy are questions concerning registering and gift requests.  Some parents are convinced that their child deserves a graduation party -- including gifts -- for minor achievements.  Unbelievably, this includes graduating from kindergarten to first grade.  I wish I were kidding, but no.   

As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children values.  One of those most important values is empathy.  To teach this important value, children should learn that they are not the center of the universe. Rather, they are part of a grand world where they should participate and contribute.  In addition, they need to learn to give rather than take--to focus on others' needs more than their own material gain.  Parents cannot teach their children anything positive by setting up a registry and requesting cash gifts for their middle school graduation. 

What graduations should we celebrate? 

If we look at the question of which graduations are important enough to celebrate logically, the answer is clear: Celebrate those that mean moving on, like high school and college.  Yes, middle schoolers move from one school to another; this is true.  Nevertheless, they are still required to go to school.  When a teen graduates from high school, they have choices--work or college. 

How should we plan a graduation party? 

First, use the party as a teaching tool, as you are preparing your child for his or her future.  So, involve your teen in planning and inviting with an eye on the budget, which also makes this a great financial teaching tool.  Since this should not be just another teen bash, help your child to focus on thanking those who have been a part of his or her life.  

Next, involve your child in planning the refreshments while staying within the budget. Be careful though, if serving adult guests alcoholic beverages, be diligent about children’s access to it, discussing legal and liability issues.  

Finally, ensure your teen assists with preparing the home or venue for party guests.  Perhaps he or she can create many of the decorations making this a unique and special event--a one of a kind. 


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How to host a proper graduation party  

Even though the purpose of the party is to celebrate and honor your child's accomplishment, emphasize the need for proper hosting. Since hosts are expected to visit with each guest, role-play how your teen will meet and greet them before the party.  Practice proper introductions, handshakes and good eye contact.  Then, during the party reinforce the lessons--all great interviewing skills.  

Good hosts also ensure their guests are comfortable, which means they should not have to ask for refreshments.  Food and drink should be easily accessible. 

If guests bring gifts, thank the guest and place the gift out of sight stating that you would not want others to feel obligated to give. 

How to teaching thankfulness 

After the party, make sure your teen handwrites thank-you notes to all who gave a gift.  Mail these the very next day.  Discuss the generosity of gift givers, stressing that none were obligated to give anything.   

Do (s) and Don't (s) 
  • Gifts are optional and never a focus.
  • No registering.
  • Gift should be placed out of sight of other guests.
  • The graduate must handwrite thank you notes immediately. 


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