Y’all, I love to host. LOVE to host! But for the longest time, I couldn’t shake the stress around the day of the party or reception. SO much to do and so little time … and, let’s be honest, rarely did I feel put together come time for guests to arrive. This is even more of an issue for graduation parties because typically you are ALSO arriving with guests after the ceremony … so everything has to be ready well in advance!
But that has changed!! I’ve discovered the beauty and art of preparing more in advance, purchasing items instead of preparing everything from scratch myself, and the hidden gem of semi-disposable serving ware!!
Here are my tips for hosting a stress-free graduation party!
Decide what you want to make versus what you want to purchase! Make a full menu about a week out. Include the sweet and savory items and drinks as well as a list of all the paper products you will need to accompany each item! If you can identify what you need to properly serve your menu, you will save time when setting out your table on party day. Additionally, it helps you determine what you need to purchase and ensures you don’t miss something important like toothpicks or napkins!! Party Time has a WALL of paper goods in every color you could imagine; from plates to napkins to tablecloths … I love a gold and black and silver theme for a graduation party, but you could also use the grad’s high school colors or the colors of the college they plan to attend! This adds color without too much extra decorating.
Buy a premade cake and then add your OWN personal cake toppers! Party Time has adorable cake toppers. I love the graduation cap toppers, but they also have some more generic “congratulations” toppers that are classic! Be sure to grab a platter for the cake as well, or you can transfer your cake to a pretty gold board like this one here from Party Time.
Put canned sodas in the fridge or in a cooler the day before the party!! This will ensure no one has a warm drink … my greatest downfall in hosting has always been serving sodas that are not cold enough! Learn from my mistakes!!
The day before the party, put your platters for non-refrigerated items out on your table(s) with sticky notes identifying what you want in or on the serving ware! This is helpful for two reasons: 1) It ensures you have a place for everything. 2) If you have a helper you don’t have to tell them where things go! Personally, I love the semi-disposable platters and trays available at Party Time! I say semi-disposable, because you can easily toss them after one use, but if you are conscious of waste, they can be wiped and cleaned for a future event!
Decant (a fancy word for empty) all of your dips and refrigerate items into the serving dishes you plan to serve them in and wrap them in plastic wrap a day or two ahead of time and pop them in the fridge! This way there is no mess to make the day of the party, and you can just pull the tray out and remove the cover right before guests arrive!
Y’all, you are on your way to hosting a stress-free graduation party! Or any party for that matter!! If you only take away ONE thing, make a list a week in advance of all the items you want to serve and need to purchase. It will be a game changer! And if you find any more items at Party Time that you think are KEY to hosting, please let me know!! I am always in awe of everything in that space, and the convenience of having a one-stop party store 10 minutes from my house is even better!
Finally, if you want to make a dip or two from scratch for your next party, here is my FAVORITE pimento cheese recipe. It is a crowd pleaser for sure!!
SJ’s Sweet and Spicy Pimento Cheese
3/4cup shredded mild cheddar cheese (finely shredded preferred for texture reasons)
3/4cup swiss/gruyere shredded blend
3Tbls plain Greek yogurt
1/4cup chopped roasted red bell peppers (aka pimento)
1/4cup chopped up sweet and hot pickled jalapenos
1/4cup chopped/roasted pecans
1/2tsp garlic powder
Y'all, just dump this all in a bowl and mix it up. Really, it’s that easy! If it feels a little wet, sprinkle in more cheese. This is great with chips or on a sliced baguette or really with anything!