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How to Celebrate a Graduation - Party or Open House?

First, Congratulations on the upcoming graduation. Whether it is you or a family member graduating, everyone put in a lot of work to get to this point. Now it's time to celebrate!

There are two common celebrations - a party or open house.

Here are a few differences to help you decide which works best for your graduate:

Hosting a Graduation Party

  • A graduation party is a more traditional, formal event.

  • Typically a graduation party will have one guest of honor with a set timeframe of 2-4 hours and specific guest list.

  • Your guests include immediate family, the graduate’s friends, friends’ parents, extended family, favorite teachers or coaches from over the years, coworkers of both the parents and the graduate.

  • The party can be held at your home, local park, a restaurant or special event venue. The Balmoral House is a versatile venue that can offer guests indoor or outdoor dining options. You can reserve the whole house or simply a room or two for your guests.

  • For this event you will want to send out invitations, either mailed or digital with an RSVP request. The RSVP will help you make arrangements for the right amount of food, drinks and seating for the party.

Hosting a Graduation Open House

  • A graduation open house is still a party but it's designed to allow guests to come and go as they please. This style event has become more popular for both convenience and cost efficiency. An Open House format also allows a more flexible, free-flowing event.

  • Open Houses still typically have a single graduate as the guest of honor. Typically Open houses will last longer for the convenience of guests. At The Balmoral House, we typically see events scheduled from 3-5 hours for guests.

  • Your guest list at an Open House may also be larger than what you would be able to accommodate with a more formal party where a meal is being served. Guests at an Open House may not stay for as long as a traditional party, but you are able to see more people overall.   

  • The Open House can also be held at a home, park or special venue. Our newest venue, The Cottage, even has a DIY option that is an easy and affordable option for up to 100 Open House guests.

  • Sending official invitations is also at your discretion. Often times hosts will send invitations to immediate family and out-of-town friends but verbally invite fellow graduates and friends.

  • During an Open House you will want to food options throughout the event. This means you can have fun with food stations with finger foods, appetizers and desserts for your guests to enjoy and mingle with others.

  • It is also common for friends to hold co-hosted Open Houses honoring several graduates at a single event. This may require a little more preparation but it helps hosts to share the expense of the event and allows friends to celebrate their accomplishments together.  

What does the host typically provide?

  • What you provide as a host is dependent on the type of party you throw. Every party should at least have some type of light appetizer and drinks. If you’re serving a meal, buffet style is popular because it allows guests to serve themselves. Whether you choose light appetizers or more filling options, make sure that your guests know what to expect.

  • If you want guests to eat before they come, include “drinks and light refreshments” on the invite so that they know not to depend on you for a whole meal.

  • If you are providing a lunch or dinner for guests be sure to include that information on your invitation. Brunch is also a popular choice for weekend celebrations.

  • If you want to provide bar service try writing something like “Cocktail hour 6pm” in your invitations.

  • You aren’t obligated to prepare any entertainment, such as games for your guests, but they could really enhance the party. Providing music in the background or music to dance creates a fun and welcoming environment.

Ways to honor your graduate?

  • Sharing graduation stories and school memories is an important component of any graduation party. Now is the time for graduates to sit with family and friends to organize pictures from throughout their school years.

  • Some graduates have an abundance of awards and trophies they’ve received over the years. Select a few that really represents the graduate. Arrange them in one big display or spread them throughout the party space.

  • A continuously playing “video biography” of the graduate from birth through high school set to music is another excellent way to share these memories.

  • Party favors are not obligatory, but they are a nice touch. You can also make the party memorable setting out keepsakes for the grad that guests can sign with advice and wishes.

After all of this is said and done, don’t forget to congratulate the graduate, it is their day after all. Celebrate life’s milestones the right way.  

If you would like to discuss holding your Graduation Party or Open House event at The Balmoral House, please call one of our Venue Managers at 317-288-8741, email or click here to send us your contact information.

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