6 Steps to Planning a Middle School Graduation Party
Planning a child’s middle school graduation party can seem intimidating. On the one hand, this is an important event in your kid’s life, and you want to commemorate it accordingly. On the other hand, you might feel overwhelmed by the various steps involved in the process. How do you schedule your child’s party around their friends’ parties? What types of decorations and food should you purchase? When should you buy certain necessary items?
It’s easy to understand why some parents feel this experience is stressful. However, it doesn’t need to be. All you have to do is keep certain essential tips in mind. Follow these points, and you’ll plan a graduation celebration your child and their guests will love.
Step 1: Choosing Middle School Graduation Party Themes
When organizing a graduation party for a middle school student, it’s smart to consider various middle school graduation party themes. A themed party is simply more memorable than a general celebration. A theme simply gives the kids in attendance opportunities to get creative with props and costumes. That means they’ll be more likely to find reasons to take a lot of pictures and make a lot of memories.
Choosing a theme can also make your job easier. When the entire party is organized around a single idea, you’ll find that selecting decorations, snacks, and other elements isn’t as complicated as it might otherwise be.
For instance, if you were throwing a basic celebration without a theme, you’ll have to ask yourself questions at every step. Are these napkins too colorful, or not colorful enough? What should I serve for snacks? What types of decorations should I purchase? It can start to seem overwhelming quick. On the other hand, if your theme was, for instance, baseball, you could simply choose decor and menu items that match the theme.
That said, the right theme for one child might not impress another. Consider your child’s interests, and get them involved in the party-planning process during this step.
Sometimes choosing a theme is easy if your kid participates in sports, clubs, or similar activities regularly. The theme of the party can be their favorite sport, with guests arriving in uniform if they’re also on your child’s team. Other guests can still get in on the fun with props and games based around the sport. You could even serve the types of food you might find at the stadium of your child’s favorite team.
If your child isn’t into sports, they might still participate in a club. Maybe they’re involved in drama club or student theater programs. If they plan on inviting other friends from the club, you could choose theater as your party’s theme, encouraging guests to dress up as their favorite characters from plays.
Again, you want to give the kids the chance to dress up, play games, and use props related to your chosen theme. Organizing the party around one idea typically results in situations were kids will want to record the moment with their phones, ensuring they’ll remember your child’s party for years.
That means the guests don’t need to belong to teams or clubs for you to justify choosing a theme which involves wearing costumes. Perhaps you can simply ask guests to dress up as a version of a typical high school student. This will give them chances to be creative and funny when they want to, without excluding guests who may not feel comfortable arriving in an obvious costume. This theme also helps generate excitement among guests. In a few short months, they actually will be high school students. Dressing up as stereotypical high school students (or as their favorite high school students from fiction) helps them prepare in a fun way.
These are by no means the only themes to consider. You might theme your child’s party around one of their favorite TV shows, movies, or musical artists. Remember, though, it’s important to discuss this with your child before making a decision. Choosing a theme that’s too juvenile can potentially embarrass a kid at this sensitive stage in life. Make sure they have a chance to provide input and brainstorm ideas with you before settling on a final choice.
Step 2: Selecting Middle School Graduation Notices
Odds are good many of your child’s friends will also be planning graduation parties. Thus, you should prioritize sending out middle school graduation notices sooner rather than later.
You don’t want to make plans, only to find your kid’s best friend is also having their party on the same day you were planning your child’s. Additionally, you may be inviting friends and family from out of town. Contacting them early simply gives them more time to prepare. That’s why the general rule of thumb is to send notices no later than six weeks before the party. Start making a guest list at least two weeks beforehand so you’re not scrambling to send last-minute invitations when your child realizes there was someone they forgot to put on the list.
Selecting invitation cards is another step in which your child may want to be involved. Whether you choose to purchase graduation invitations or design your own, you want to make sure your child approves of them before sending them.
You should also take advantage of technology. Kids these days are less interested in Facebook than previous generations, but you may still use the popular social media platform. If you’re friends with any of the guests’ parents on Facebook, create an additional Facebook event along with your traditional invitations. This gives you an easy way to provide updates and answer questions.
Make a point of clearly deciding on your theme before sending invitations. The invitations should also serve to provide information about the theme. This simply gives everyone time to prepare. For example, if the theme is your child’s favorite sport, a guest might want to purchase a jersey so they can participate in the theme by dressing up as their favorite player. The more time they have to make these preparations, the better.
Step 3: Choose Middle School Graduation Decorations
Buying middle school graduation decorations (and coming up with middle school graduation decoration ideas) doesn’t need to be overwhelming and stressful. Following some basic tips will make the process much easier than expected.
Again, choosing a theme (and making sure your child knows they can’t change their mind about it later) early helps you plan a shopping list early as well. You can begin to find and plan decorations that match the theme.
For instance, maybe the theme is football. You can save yourself headaches by purchasing football-themed paper plates, cups, and napkins ahead of time. This will cover the very basic decorations. It also gives you more time to plan out the more complex decor.
Perhaps you have a few long tables where kids will be eating. You can decorate these to resemble miniature football fields. The tablecloths (which you may purchase or design yourself) would be green, with lines drawn across them to represent a football field’s yard lines. Building small goal posts at each end of the table can add to the effect. You might even seat guests around the tables in chairs with cup holders to fully create the stadium experience in miniature.
Additionally, if your child plays on the school football team, you can likely purchase team banners and similar decor from the district itself. Displaying these is a simple way to ensure your decorations match your theme.
Of course, that’s just one example. You’ll need to modify your ideas depending on the theme of your child’s party. Once more, it’s a good idea to involve your child in the process. It’s their party, and you want to decorate it according to their tastes. Creative children may even want to design some of the decorations on their own.
Regardless of your theme, there are some general tips worth keeping in mind when buying and planning decorations. The first is to buy everything you need as early as possible. You might struggle to find certain items if you wait too long. Other parents will also be purchasing decorations for their kids’ graduation parties, after all.
You can also save money by printing out some decorations from the internet. You just need to do a little research to see what’s available. For example, if your theme was football, a quick Google search for “football decorations printable” reveals many free options.
Remember that putting up decorations takes time. However, you don’t want to simply arrange them randomly. The goal is always to provide guests with memorable experiences. You want your decorations to inspire guests to take pictures and interact with the theme.
It’s easier to achieve this goal if you draft a basic plan for the different areas of your property where kids will be spending the most time during the party. Doing so helps you identify the best spots for decorations. For example, maybe you plan on having guests eat in the backyard beneath a tent. Going with the football theme, you could add banners and related decor to the tent to enhance the idea that it represents a football stadium. You could even set aside space outside of the tent for “tailgating,” where guests can snack and toss a football back-and-forth, just like they might at an actual game.
Finally, set a budget. The specific decoration ideas you come up with will vary depending on your theme. However, you and your child might come up with so many ideas that you could easily spend much more than you planned to on decorations alone. Setting a budget first prevents you from researching decoration ideas you can’t afford.
Step 4: Choose Graduate Party Snacks
Buying graduation party snacks is another potentially overwhelming task that becomes much easier when you remember certain basic tips.
First, use your invitations to ask the parents of guests about any allergies or dietary restrictions you should know about. You want to provide snacks for everyone. Once you have this information, coordinate with your child to start making a list of foods they might want at the party.
Specific choices will vary, but generally, you should plan offering three major types of food: small snacks to eat throughout the day (such as chips, pretzels, etc.), a larger meal (pizza, burgers), and some form of dessert.
Many of the basic snacks might take a relatively long time to expire. Save yourself time and avoid stress later by purchasing these early. Of course, you should store them away from most of the other food in your home; you don’t want any members of your family opening them up and eating them before the actual party. As with decorations, you might also struggle to find certain items if you wait too long to purchase them.
It also helps to research options for the main meal of the day ahead of time. If you’re comfortable simply grilling typical backyard barbecue options, you won’t have to do much research, but it’s possible there are guests with dietary restrictions. In this case, you might have to find a local catering service that has a relatively extensive menu. That’s a major reason why it’s important to send invitations no later than six weeks before the party. You need time to get information about what your guests can and can’t eat, decide on a basic menu, and reach out to caterers before they get too busy with orders from other parents. Planning ahead also gives you more opportunities to learn about low-cost options and potential discounts.
Again, if you can find ways to make the way in which the food is presented match the party’s theme (such as offering popular baseball stadium foods at a baseball-themed party), putting in that extra effort will help make the event even more memorable. That said, the easiest way to match the food with the theme is to order a cake for dessert with a relevant design. This is another task to plan ahead for. Bakers in your area will likely receive many orders in the weeks leading up to the end of the school year.
Review your list of dietary restrictions to determine if you should order additional desserts for guests who may not be able to eat cake. Instead of one large dessert, you might find you’re better off offering an assortment of cookies and similar snacks.
Step 5: Plan Fun, Free Graduation Games
Kids expect games to be available at graduation parties. That doesn’t mean you have to go over your budget offering theme. There are many free graduation games you can offer that guests will love.
Obviously, safe backyard sports you already have the equipment for make for fun games. This is particularly true if the sport corresponds to your theme. You should also take stock of any general backyard games you already own the gear for, such as water gun fights, Twister, cornhole, and more. You can easily save a lot of money by simply taking stock of what you already own.
Don’t worry if you don’t currently own many fun games for a graduation party. By going the DIY route, you can use items you already have around the house to design activities.
For example, maybe you already do some degree of woodworking for home improvement projects. Sawing a few thick boards of wood into rectangles of equal size is a simple way to create life-size Jenga.
Plenty of homeowners also own ladders for completing various projects around the house. Prop the ladder up in a secure spot, and tape pieces of paper onto the rungs so they hang down from them. Each paper should list a certain number of points. The smaller the space between the rungs, the more points that space is worth. Have guests stand far enough away from the ladder that aiming is a challenge, and let them toss bean bags, footballs, or similar items through the rungs to try and get the top score. Of course, just make sure the kids aren’t playing on the ladder, which can be dangerous.
It’s also worth noting that fun party games are available in the form of free apps. Downloading a few onto a phone is a very efficient way to offer a wide range of party games, from charades to trivia. These options are also worth considering if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Rain might prevent guests from playing backyard games, but they can still have fun indoors with the right apps.
As always, speak with your child about the games you plan on offering. They may also have suggestions. Plus, they can give you insights into the types of activities their guests may be interested in. Maybe half the guests enjoy sports, while the other half would have more fun playing a trivia game. Offering options for both types of guests helps to ensure everyone has a good time. Of course, if you can find a way to match the activities to the theme, even better. For example, if your child is involved in theater and you’ve chosen that as your basic theme, your guests will likely appreciate games which allow them to perform. Research improv comedy games to come up with fun, low-cost ideas for kids who have the most fun when they’re on stage.
Step 6: Design or Buy a Middle School Graduation Party Guest Book
A middle school graduation party guest book could potentially be the type of item your child holds onto for years. They can look back to it whenever they wish to remember a fun day when their friends celebrated an important milestone in their lives. Luckily, including a graduation party guest book in your celebration is relatively easy.
That’s not to say you should simply place a notebook on a table and ask people to sign it. This is yet another opportunity to offer both your child and their guests a unique experience they might not have at other graduation parties. As always, your chosen theme can help you come up with clever ideas.
If your theme is a particular sport your child plays, the “guest book” can take the form of custom trading cards showing them in uniform. Guests simply sign the back of the cards with messages, and drop them into a box to be arranged into a scrapbook later.
You could also let guests add a more personal touch to their messages by making the guest book a “time capsule.” Before the party, ask guests to bring pictures or small items that remind them of an experience they had with your child in school. Along with a signed card, they can add these to box. Plan a date in the future for your child to open it and look back on the memories they made. Although you can choose any date your child wishes, it’s a good idea to consider dates that might be particularly significant in the future, such as the day they graduate from high school.
None of this is to suggest that a traditional notebook is out of the question. You simply want to customize it appropriately. If you can find a durable notebook with a design that already matches your theme, perfect. Otherwise, you can get a plain notebook and print out or design your own unique cover to add to it. You might even simply customize it by decorating the notebook with relevant stickers. Just make sure it’s durable. You want something that’s built to last, not a flimsy guest book that might get damaged.
Yet again, you should ask your child if they want to be involved in this step. They might have smart ideas for making their party stand out. Although you can’t expect all their ideas to be practical, discussing the topic with them at least gives you a clearer sense of how you can plan the celebration they deserve. By coordinating with your kid, keeping these points in mind, and planning ahead, you’ll easily throw a successful middle school graduation party.