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How To Host an Amazing Graduation Open House…Without Losing Your Mind: Part 4

So far we’ve covered the general things like choosing your date, time and location, invitations, food and decorations.  Now it’s time to actually pull it all together and get a timeline set up for when you’re going to get these things done.

  1. Shopping – Spread your shopping out over time so that it’s easier on your wallet. If you’re going to set a budget for your event, be sure to track your purchases.
    • Food items – Many things can be purchased in advance, but you’ll want to wait until a few days before your party to purchase your veggies and fruit if you’re serving them. Watch your sale ads for items you’ll need and purchase at discounted prices.  You may also want to consider purchasing larger quantities from places like Sam’s Club and Costco.
    • Paper goods – These can obviously be purchased any time. I prefer to get them in advance so I am assured of getting the colors and items we want.  Party City or other party supply stores are great for this, especially if you’re going with certain colors.
    • Decorations – Again, these can be purchased any time. You’ll need to make sure you allow ample time if you’re planning to do a lot of DIY decorations so that you’re not waiting until the last minute.
  2. Food Prep – Many things can be done ahead of time, but others will need to be done closer to the actual time. The more you can do in advance the better so that you’re not super stressed the day of.
    • Cookies – These can be made well in advance and stored in the freezer.
    • Veggies – I will usually wash and prep my veggies about 3 days in advance.
    • Side dishes – Many of these can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator for baking and/or serving at the party.
    • Drinks – These should be put on ice a couple hours before the event if necessary.
    • Hot foods – Be sure to check the baking/heating times for your hot food. You’ll need to allow ample time, especially if you only have one oven.  I will usually move hot foods to chafing dishes and racks about 15-20 minutes before the start of the party.
  3. General Set Up – If you’re hosting at another location you will be on a much tighter schedule and will probably have to set up an hour or two before it starts. If this is the case, you get there are knock things out.  If you are hosting the party at your home, you can start setting things up a few days before.  You can decide how far in advance you would like to set up based on how much you are doing.
    • Food table – One thing that I have found super helpful is to know in advance which serving dishes I will be using for food items and to decide on the general layout of my table. I will even set up my food table the night before the party.  Then on the day of the party you can easily fill the dishes and transfer hot foods to chafing dishes.
    • Outdoor set up – This is typically done within the hours before the party starts once you know the weather is going to cooperate. Canopies, table and chairs can be set up early.  You’ll want to wait until close to start time for actual decorations if it’s super windy so that things don’t blow away.
  4. Other Helpful Tips – Recruit people to help you!! Don’t try to be SuperMom and think you can do it all yourself.  You’re going to need help, especially at the party itself.  Get some friends or family members to help keep an eye on the food table and refill dishes as they get low.  You will drive yourself crazy if you’re trying to take care of this all on your own and you won’t get to visit with people and enjoy the day that you’ve worked so hard for.  Also, assign someone to empty trash cans as needed.  And here’s a biggie….if people offer to help clean up at the end of the party, LET THEM HELP!!  I’m notorious for telling people no and then end up doing it all on my own.  Let others help if they offer!

Hopefully you’ve found this series helpful and I pray that your graduation open house is the most amazing special day for both you and your graduate.  Have a great day and I hope you’ll check back in to see what we’re talking about next.

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