With my own college graduation right around the corner (ok, in 9 months) I have started thinking about whether or not to have a graduation party and what it might look like. I was talking to a friends mom the other day who asked me if my parents had booked their hotel room yet for graduation because they were filling up fast, and if we were having a grad party. It made me realize that with the amount of college graduates celebrating, and families flying in to celebrate with their graduates, party planning actually does have to start now. So here are a few of my ideas for what a college graduation party could look like and what resources could be used to plan and execute the perfect graduation party.
At home graduation party:
This party could take place near your University if your family and friends live close enough. Or could take place back in your home town after your graduation. This is easier for some students whose family members can’t all fly to their university for the graduation ceremony. If you do live close to your school, having one of your favorite restaurants from your days as a student would be a fun way to let your family and friends experience your towns best food. My favorite restaurant in Eugene happens to be Qdoba Mexican Grill, and they happen to cater! Here is Qdoba’s catering website in case you love them just as much as I do and want more information.
If you’re looking for more finger foods and desserts I would recommend Lewis and Clark Catering company or Sweet Life Patisserie. I will get more into Lewis and Clark Catering later in this post, but Sweet Life is a favorite of many students in Eugene and they custom make beautiful cakes and desserts such as these:
Here is Sweet Life’s website for more information on special orders and contact information. If your home just isn’t big enough or doesn’t have the backyard for a graduation party, having your graduation party at an event venue or event center is another wonderful option.
Event Venues in Eugene:
Lewis and Clark Catering Company is my new favorite place for any kind of event or catering needs in Eugene. Their 200 plus dining and banquet facility overlooks the Willamette River and Alton Baker park. If you don’t need room for two hundred plus people, they also offer more intimate settings, and will design a food menu, or just hor d’oeuvres, specifically for your event. They also can arrange Party rentals, Tabletop design, Photography and video, Styling, Decor, Bar and cocktail service, and Music and dancing. I am definitely keeping this place in mind if I’m ever planning a wedding in Eugene as well! http://lewisandclarkcatering.com/
Here’s an idea of their inside seating and decor. And here is a picture of their gorgeous Willamette River view.
If you’re looking for something a little less fancy the Amazon Community Center on Hilyard street is a little closer to campus and a little less expensive (Their rates can be found on their website). The Amazon Community center doesn’t provide catering or any of the other services offered by Lewis and Clark, but using this venue may allow you and your family to be a little more hands on in your graduation planning process. Meaning you bring your food, decorations, and set-up crew. I have actually been to a college graduation party here and helped with the set-up. As a venue the meeting room was the perfect size for a casual drop-in group of around 20 people at any given time. There is also a larger room that holds up to 90 people that would be perfect for bigger groups. A venue like this one would allow for a much more casual graduation party while still giving family and friends enough room to mingle and congratulate the graduate.
I love this idea for cupcakes that would be perfect at any venue or at home graduation party!
Not so sure about having a Graduation Party:
If you’re like me and you’re more worried about finding a decent (or any) job after college than eating cupcakes and receiving graduation gifts for the new apartment you may or may not be moving in to (depending on the job you may or may not get), then you may be wondering if holding a graduation party is really worth the effort. Sometime it is, sometimes it isn’t. When I asked my family if they would want to have a graduation party for me this coming spring, they asked me if people actually had graduation parties for their college students, I mean they already had a party for me when I graduated from high school, right! If your family is like mine and doesn’t really care if you have a party or not, no party might be the best option for you (you as a student probably don’t want to get stuck with all the planning and costs that come along with planning a party). But if your family is excited about coming together to celebrate your graduation, do it! A graduation party can be about more than cupcakes and gifts. If you are concerned about finding a job and eventually moving up the ranks, ask all of your graduation party guests to bring a good contact for you or job search tips instead of gifts. Instead of telling grandma for the hundredth time that you’re not sure what you’re going to do now and that you’re still looking for jobs, you can network during the party. Maybe you have a cousin that just landed a great job in the city (like my cousin!) who now has tons of interesting new friends and contacts that could help land you a job in the future. It can be surprising how helpful one family member or friend with one good contact can be. If you have already found a post college job and just need items to fill or decorate your new apartment (lucky you!) you can opt to go for a somewhat controversial graduation gift registry to help give your family and friends an idea of what you actually need as you go forward and start your own life after college. Here’s an ABC news article about the controversial nature of the graduation gift registry. And here’s a link to myregistry.com, a site that allows you to create your own registry for any occasion.
Finding a Hotel for graduation/graduation party attendees:
Holiday Inn Express is probably one of the closest hotels to the University of Oregon campus, and has always been a popular place for parents and friends of students to stay when visiting, but because of that it is also often full during busy times like graduation. If you want a room there, book early, really early (We’re talking booking in August for a June stay). Another beautiful hotel that is just a bit farther away is Inn at the 5th which is right in the middle of the 5th street public market. A location filled with boutique shops and amazing dining.
As with Holiday Inn Express try to book early for the graduation season.
Good luck planning and executing the perfect graduation party for you and your family! I hope this post can be used as a helpful resource along the way!