Now that finals have come to a close, classes are done and all the tassels have been flipped, it’s officially grad party season! There’s no better way to celebrate the end of four years of parties than with another party. Here’s everything you need to know to make it through a summer of planning, attending and enjoying grad parties.
Getting gifts for the graduate is a must, but a common point of contention. It’s difficult to find something that stays in budget but is still thoughtful. It’s also tricky to figure out what a grad is going to find the most useful in their new post-college life. You can’t go wrong with cash or gift cards to grocery or homeware stores. This allows the person to decide what they need/want the most. Graduates usually also appreciate a nice bottle of liquor as a gift. This could take the form of wine or champagne, but it really depends on the person. Try to pick out something you can imagine them uncorking when they hear back about that first job or apartment.
Another great gift move for graduates is something they could use in the professional world. Think: briefcase, stationary, a new wallet, luggage or a business card holder. If they’re going to have a desk or office in whatever career they pursue and you are good at planning ahead, try to custom order a nameplate or other personalized office supplies.
For a personal touch, compile a photo album or scrapbook of memories with the grad. A thoughtful book filled with quotes or life-tips is also a useful, inexpensive present.
When planning a grad party outfit, be careful about reading the vibe of the party. Some people throw lavish catered parties at venues, others have backyard pool-party barbecues. Usually hosts will denote the environment of the party on the invitation, so make sure you take note. Also pay attention to the weather. You don’t want to be caught in a bikini and cover-up if there’s a thunderstorm outside.
Besides that, sundresses, rompers or light jumpsuits are usually the way to go with grad parties in the summer. Neutral palettes are also very in right now. Pair paper bag waist pants with a simple top for an effortless look that will keep you cool. Stripes and blue are also on trend for the season. If it’s a pool party vibe, one-piece and high-waisted swimsuits are still in.
As far as footwear, dad-style chunky sneakers and slide sandals are in for the summer. But if you’re going for a dressier look espadrille, knotted and slingback sandals are the way to go. Don’t forget that wedges can be dressed up or down and are perfect for the warmer weather.
Do’s and Don’ts
DO bring a gift/card. It doesn’t have to be expensive and there are plenty of ways to stay in budget (see above), but it is polite to bring the grad something to say congratulations and show that you were thinking of them.
DO be prepared with a swimsuit if the host has specified their pool is going to be a part of the party (and weather permitting, of course).
DON’T get sloppy drunk, whether you’re the guest or the host. You want to remember these grad parties and the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself, especially if people’s families are around.
DON’T steal the attention from the graduate. This ties in with the aforementioned. Don’t out-dress the grad, make a scene, or make the party about you if you’re not the host. You’re there to celebrate the grad, not boast your own accomplishments.
If you’re hosting, DO make sure you carefully plan the guest list. If you’re going to have family and friends, having your wildest roommate sitting next to grandma at the dinner table might not be wise.
DO RSVP on time! It’s only polite if you’ve been invited to let the host know whether or not you can attend so they can plan for their numbers accordingly.
DO be prepared to mingle. Whether you’re the host or the guest, try to make the most of the environment and share stories or swap memories with the other attendees.
DON’T ask the grad what their plans are after graduation. It’s often a stressful question and people are there to celebrate and have a good time. And it’s totally normal for people not to know yet.
DO write thank you notes if you were hosting. If your guests were nice enough to bring a present or card, it’s only polite to send them a simple thank you. And be sure to hand-write them; there’s nothing more thoughtful than someone taking a moment to personalize a thank you note.
DO take lots of photos and plan a photo booth area for your guests to enjoy. Invest in a cheap Polaroid for instant pictures or a few selfie sticks (still useful). After the party, post them to Facebook so all the guests can access them.
Julia Mancini is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.