All the preparations are done! The tables, chairs and decorations are set. The drinks are iced. The food is ready. You and your graduate have been working on this in one way or another for weeks, if not a couple of months. Now you are ready to relax and enjoy your guests. But…you want to capture the memories of the day.
In this part of the series I will tell you about a couple of fun ways to capture the event, and add to the lasting memories of your graduate’s senior year.
Guest book. I know, it sounds very cheesy to have a guest book at a graduation party. And, honestly, we didn’t at any of ours…which I regret. On this day your graduate is the focus and center of attention in a way that they may never be again in their life. Everyone is there to see them, and celebrate with them. So, why not have a guest book?
I am not talking about the kind you might see at a wedding or funeral that captures names and addresses. I am talking about having a book that will allow guests to write a few words about the guest of honor to celebrate the event. I have three great ideas on how to do this in ways that will be fun for your guests and your graduate:
- Have a simple, blank journal available. This is probably the least expensive way to go. At almost any store you can find blank paged books to use as a journal. Encourage your guests to take a few minutes and write a message to the graduate. The message can be about anything they like. Aunts, uncles and grandparents will love the idea of sharing some memories, and giving them sage advice. Your graduate’s friends have probably already signed their year book, but they may still grace this one with an “RMA”, “BFFs forever”, or some other fun quip.
- Get a copy of one of your graduate’s favorite children’s books. My kids were big fans of Dr. Seuss. His books are ideal for this purpose because they have plenty of space on each page to write messages. I was at a wedding once where “Oh the Places You’ll Go” was used as the guest book. I loved the idea, but never remembered to use it at a graduation party.
- Create a photo book of your graduate. You have been combing through pictures of your graduate for the display board, now you can use those same pictures to have a hard bound photo book printed. For this purpose you’d want just a few words on the first page, then pictures on the rest of the pages. Remember to leave white space around the pictures as most guests won’t want to write their messages across people’s faces.
While the guest book might seem to be another groan-inducing item for the graduate, I can guarantee that they will cherish it, and re-read it many times in their lives.
Taking Photos at the Party. I am a shutterbug, and I love to take photos. I have gone to family reunions, birthday parties, and Christmas gatherings, and come home with literally hundreds of pictures. But, at my own children’s parties, I was sparse at best. Like you, I wanted to enjoy the day and visit with guests. So, while I might be the perfect person to take pictures at someone else’s party, I was a terrible choice for my own.
Everyone these days has cameras on their phones, and many people still carry dedicated cameras. Chances are that many at your party will be snapping pictures, and you will want copies of them. The recommendation here is to make it easy for them to share their pictures with you. Many of your younger guests will be users of social media sites with photo sharing capabilities like instagram, facebook and twitter. Encourage everyone who comes to share whatever photos they take on one of these sites. There are also photo printing and sharing sites like snapfish and flickr that allow you to upload and share photos for free. The important thing here is to let people know how to easily share their photos with you.
While shared photos are nice, they can also be a bit hit-or-miss. Who knows what the quality of the photos will be? Will all the important guests be captured in a shot? Will you get pictures of your display, food, setup, etc.?
All these are things you’ll think about after, and regret the missed opportunity. That’s why I recommend assigning someone to be your picture taker (If I am invited to your party, I am happy to take on the assignment). Here you are looking for a guest who has a camera, and knows at least some of your guests. You are asking a big favor of this person, but if you find the right shutterbug, they will take on the assignment with gusto.
If you are asking someone to be your photographer for the party it is a good idea to let her or him know what kind of pictures you are seeking. Are you interested in only candid shots of people having fun? Do you want the graduate paired up with certain relatives? I recommend that you actually give the person a list. Let them know who you want to make sure is captured on film for the party.
A fun idea to use here, which may appeal to the more outgoing of photographers, is to have a t-shirt made up in a bright color that says “Event Photographer” on the front and back. It sounds a bit hokey, but it will be a good conversation starter and it will let that photographer snap pictures without sideways glances from the subjects.
However you decide to do it, make sure you put a bit of planning into the task of capturing the memories of the party. You will want your graduate to enjoy and remember this day for years to come.
Time Lapse Photography.For our last party, my son Jim came up with this idea. We mounted a small camera at the corner of our house and set it to take pictures every few seconds for the duration of the party. Using software, Jim compiled the pictures into a time lapse video of the whole party. It was relatively easy to do, and we have enjoyed watching the video since. You can find it on youtube.com here:
This concludes the series on how to plan a great High School Graduation Party. Hopefully you have found some of my ideas to be useful and helpful in your planning. Not everything will work for you, and the key is to adapt and make things your own.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. You can click below and leave me a comment, or post a question. The lessons we learned could probably fill a book (hmm. interesting idea), but here I presented some summary information.
Have a great party!