So, you're in charge of the Graduation party. Now what?

11:13 AM on Monday, Feb 6th, 2017
So, you're in charge of the Graduation party. Now what?

The very idea is overwhelming when you think about the sheer number of students, the catering, the entertainment…  But don’t panic! Here are some tips to get you started on your way to a HUGELY successful night that everyone will be talking about for years to come.

  1. Start by making a list of the major items that you’ll need—location, food, entertainment, tickets, publicity, etc.  This will help you carve the event into manageable chunks that you can attack one at a time.
  2. Gather some reliable and strong parent volunteers that you can count on.  This is where your list will come in handy because you are going to delegate parts of it to others and lighten your load.
  3. Talk to past resources.  The parents in the past who have planned these events are an invaluable resource for getting you started.  They have the experience and can help you avoid any pitfalls and obstacles which may come up.  They may even have referrals for vendors who have helped with a successful experience in the past.
  4. Set a firm budget right away.  This may adjust as you get closer to the event and get a firmer number on the students who will attend the celebration, but with a number in mind (and down on paper!) you shouldn’t be surprised by inflated budget-busting items at the last minute.
  5. Think outside the box.  Just because they’ve always held the graduation party in the same place with the same entertainment doesn’t mean that’s how it always has to be.  Try talking to a new location and see what they offer, or what they’ll allow to be brought into their facility.  They may have worked with events just like yours and be able to offer invaluable insight into planning an event. Some even have an event planner right on premises who is more than willing to help you with the details.
  6. Brainstorming is a great way to come up with ideas—involve different types of people on your planning and volunteer staff.  Try not to be a dictator, but be open to ideas that others may have.  Yes, you are in charge, but that doesn’t mean others don’t have something to contribute.  Use their talents and ideas to the best of your advantage.
  7. Build the hype.  Ultimately, the entirety of your event will be based on ticket sales.  This is where your advertising chairman, or committee, can really save your bacon.  The more you advertise and get the students wanting to purchase tickets to your event, the easier it will be to release some of the worry.  Without good publicity, you may have an event that falls short or needs to be cancelled completely due to lack of interest.
  8. Contact a reputable entertainment source as soon as you have a basic idea about the date of your event and the location.  Talk to them about what they offer, the price, and the things they can do to help take the weight off your shoulders a bit.  There are many one-stop-shop type of companies in the area who can help by offering a wide variety of the things you will need to make your event a success.  Listen to their suggestions about what teens enjoy doing at events such as yours and take advantage of their experiences to save yourself time and headaches.  Make sure you sign a contract for the items that you want to be at your event to ensure they are available, and that your expectations will be met.
  9. Communicate your expectations for the volunteers on the night of the event.  Be clear about their responsibilities, where they are expected to be, and their behavior.  It’s very likely you’re working with people from all walks of life who have their own ideas about how they should interact with the kids. Be understanding about their approaches, but communicate the responsibilities of a proper chaperone so that your event runs smoothly without some of the major issues that can crop up.
  10. You’ll know you’ve done your job if the students don’t notice.  Remember that you are human and forgive yourself for being overworked, underpaid, and definitely under-appreciated. 
  11. This is the culminating celebration for many high school seniors on a successful school career.  You’ve been given the rare opportunity to help them have fun now that the pressure is relaxed a little. Sit back, trust your volunteers, and watch the kids have fun.