The Best Laid Plans: Grad Party Advice

Anyone who knows me knows I love to throw a party! I get excited over details and food and games and decorations. Pass the crepe paper streamers, please. My theory is that a good party can turn into a great party if you start with a fun theme. Piñata, anyone? You can imagine how thrilled I was when our youngest daughter gave me the go-ahead to start planning her graduation party—one with a theme, of course.sandwich board sign

This girl has dreams of exploring and experiencing life outside of her Midwest upbringing. She wants to go places! The theme for her party was obvious to me, a Dr. Seuss fanatic.

Oh, the places you’ll go.guest book

Once I got her okay for my brilliant theme choice, the hunt for treasures began. I picked up the book of the same name, which would double as her guest book. For months, I’d scour clearance racks for cute cupcake liners, maps and serving pieces. I borrowed globes from family and friends.

Her wish was to host a Sunday brunch in our backyard. We’re lucky to have a yard that’s perfect for a party. It’s large and green (thanks to my dear husband and his affinity for lawn care) and flat enough for a big tent next to the patio. We rented a tent, tables and chairs well in advance. We booked a waffle caterer (yes, there are waffle specialists out there) and ordered invitations. We planned and made lists for a make-your-own-fancy-coffee bar, which apparently is all the rage these days. We bought sprinkles and whipped cream, because everybody knows coffee tastes better with whipped cream and sprinkles.

cereal treats

My friends came over to help make  Pinterest-worthy party favors.

We figured out logistics like how to hook up enough electric power for ten waffle irons in the weeks leading up to the party. I planted flowers and my husband groomed the yard. We hung a tree swing and gathered yard games such as Bocce ball, croquet, giant checkers and badminton.

This was going to be the backyard bash of all backyard bashes! We envisioned our older guests sipping coffee and relaxing under the shade of the tent while the younger set ate waffles and played yard Scrabble. The day would be perfect. We were ready.

You know the saying about the best laid plans…

tent on ground
On the morning of the party, a front moved through and flattened out the tent. It also left most of our city without power for several hours.

Fortunately, ours only flickered. We had to move the party inside. Our yard party became a garage party. The rain pelted us and the wind gusts grew stronger as we attempted to pitch a second tent on the driveway to extend our garage space. We almost had the side panels on when another gust sent it airborne, lifting the six anchor blocks off the ground. Tent #2 was a no go.

But as you know, the party must go on! We spread tablecloths and hung photos and turned our garage into grad party central.

beverage bar


Waffle irons

panoramic of waffle bar

In spite of the weather, we had non-stop guests for three-and-a-half hours straight.

garage visiting

It was heartwarming to greet the village of folks who have loved her, taught her and supported her throughout her life. Her second-grade teacher came to celebrate, as did her high school track coach. Her babysitters came and so did the children our daughter now babysits for. Family and friends old and new came to eat waffles and share stories. Some came for hot coffee as they didn’t have power at home!

garage talk 2

While it may not have been the sunny, backyard soiree we’d envisioned, it was a lovely party—because of the people who came…

…and those who helped make it possible.

What a remarkable day! Sending a great big thank you to everybody who came through the rain, hail and wind to celebrate (and eat waffles) with us.

family pic at grad party

P.S. For those of you with high school seniors, I’d highly recommend a theme AND a back-up plan for your child’s grad party. If you need any other guidance, you know where to find me!   #outtosea

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