It’s time for your graduate to take their next steps into adulthood. And because you love your son or daughter so much, you want to mark this milestone of their life with some style, but you’re also thinking about college tuition and you are none too keen to drop a fortune.
Tents from Tent Guys are the ideal, affordable go-to for your teen’s college, birthday or that last 4th of July Party at home. Our clean, upscale tents allow you to have a place for gathering together your friends and family in a comfortable space, shaded from the sun and heat. It also keeps people out of the house and brings everyone together in one area: your backyard, a winery or farm field you’ve rented, the grounds of your local church, or wherever you want to throw that party. And it means the majority of the work of set-up—from the tent itself to the chairs and tables (for a nominal charge)—are all included in the pricing, so you can simply get down to the business of planning the celebration.
So, we wanted to lay out a series of ideas that we’ve seen done by our previous clients, over the years, as well as some of the ideas we’ve seen on social media, in order to encourage you to think about what sort of party you could throw for your graduating teen. Here are some of the kinds of party ideas we’ve thought could be helpful to you:
Drink Station and Cocktail Tables: Setting up a few drink stations around the tents (perhaps 2, one at each long end) can allow your guests the opportunity to know exactly where to get their beverages. It localizes the drinks and can create a focal point: just like water-cooler conversations at the office, so your party’s drinking stations can serve as a conversational point. So think what sorts of drinks you want: alcoholic, non-alcoholic, or a combo of the two? And will you hire a bartending company or have a self-serve style?
Set up, in one area, several groupings of bar-high cocktail tables. People like a gathering point at parties, where they can chat with friends as well as set down their drinks or plates of appetizers. Cocktail tables can go a long way in being both practical and social. We’ve seen people adorn both cocktail tables and drink stations with tablecloths of their school colors or their teen’s favorite colors. So think about your color scheme as much as the placement of cocktail tables. It can be useful to set up those tables away from the drink stations, so that you don’t have a clustering of people all in one space.
Candy Bar: Sounds fun, right? Setting up a candy bar, with varying kinds and colors of candy in different kinds of glass or plastic bowls and jars, can add a touch of delight to your party. Try to set up the bowls and containers at varying heights, using wood blocks underneath and then cover with tablecloths. That way you create a varying landscape of candy—you want it to be as appealing to your mouth as to your eye.
Try, also, not just to buy any old candy (chocolate candy bars can be a problematic choice on a hot day!) but pick candies that are color-coordinated and vary in texture. Gumdrops, hard candies, caramels, and other kinds of sugar work can be a great way to create a conversation piece. You want the candy table to tell a story, not just be a place where people get a sugar high. Even think about flavored popcorns or chocolate covered pretzels and candied nuts. You want a mixture of sweet and savory, of complementary colors and textures, all working together to give an almost dreamscape appearance.
Table Layouts: You want a varying set of tables, so that your guests can have varying kinds of experiences. Consider round or square tables, for sitting down to eat. As mentioned above, have high cocktail tables for your guests at which to stand around and chat. Use long rectangular tables to set up the food stations so that it’s easy to display the food and allow your guests to form lines on either side of the table for serving themselves.
Display & Gift Table: Also, think about displays at your graduation party. Consider a short rectangular table where your guests can leave any gifts or cards for your graduate. And display on that table memorable photos, awards, memorabilia, and so on. Your guests want to look at these things, so remember that you want to select pieces that really tell the story about your son or daughter’s journey through school to graduation. Baby pictures (sure, embarrass the graduate a little!) all the way to yesterday’s Instagram post can be a great way to show the life of your proud graduate. We’ve even seen some families set up a small TV with a USB drive in it, showing digital videos on it, cycling through them from one to the next.
DJ, or Curated Playlist? Honestly, that’s up to you! But don’t forget the music! People want a party to have a good vibe, and what better way to set the tone or mood than through music. And, if you do a curated playlist, then buy a few (maybe 3-6) smart speakers that can be charged up beforehand. Smart speakers make a great choice, because they can all be calibrated via Bluetooth to the same playlist. Distribute the speaker out around the tent and yard area, so that you set the atmosphere for the whole space.
Invitations: Send them out early! Now is a great time to get that list together and send them. And, with the ease of digital e-invites today, you can quickly put something together online and fire them off. Set the date now and send off the invites, remembering that lots of other families will also be throwing parties. It could be a great idea to coordinate your parties with your teens’ closest friends’ families, so that yours starts at noon and the others at 3 and 6 pm. That way, friends and family can hit all the parties. Or, even better, see if you can’t throw a shared party with your teen’s best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend? It could be sensible to pool together resources—the party is, after all, for your teen!
Caterers: You will want to get going on this point right away, unless you want the task yourself? If you choose a catering service, they often have some ideas already prepared for a menu. It’s summer, so keep it simple! Think about some BBQ, cornbread, macaroni or pasta salad, potato salad, a salad of greens, and perhaps cut-up watermelon or a fruit salad. Obviously, hamburgers and hot dogs are an easy go-to; or marinated & grilled chicken. We think it’s better to keep it simple when it comes to food at a graduation party. Make that part of it the least of your worries!
Social Media: You want the party to be remembered, so hashtag the party. Since we all use our phones so much these days both to take pictures as well as post on social media, create a memorable hashtag (consult your teen) so that when your guests post pictures on their social media outlets, they can hashtag it with the unique hashtag. You can put the hashtag on the digital invite when you initially send it, asking them to use it the day of; and you can send out a reminder three days before the party, reminding your guests of the day, time, location, and hashtag.
This way, later, your family and your graduate can simply search the hashtag on social media and find all the pictures taken throughout their day. So, be sure the hashtag is as unique as you can think of, but not so unique that no one remembers it. (Ask your teen for help!)
Photo Booth: Photo booths are all the rage right now, so rent one. There are numerous companies that can set up a photo booth and bring various props, so your guests can have a lot of fun taking family and group photos. Many photo booths can print out a polaroid-style picture right then and there, as well as email digital photos. You can also ask the company to use your teen’s hashtag for the party, so that the photos are properly tagged.
Dance Floor: Don’t forget, if you’re aiming to throw an all-day party, that a dance floor can be a great idea! It can get your guests out and to cut a rug and have a good laugh while they shimmy and swing about.
Lighting: Don’t forget lighting! We love the idea of twinkle lights or various other kinds of lighting fixtures strung inside and outside the tent, so that as your party moves beyond the sunset, through dusk and into night, it can keep going!
Coolers: If you use a caterer, they probably have a solution for keeping drinks cold. But if you are doing it yourself, buy a few extra-large coolers with wheels, keep them stocked with beverages and ice in your garage, and wheel out the full ones when the others empty. It can make it easy on you to keep yourself prepared so that your guests have enough to drink.
Make it You! Be sure your party’s décor and style reflects a coherent design, which shows off who you and your family are! You can go with themes or color combinations; you can choose a certain style technique or idea. Consult websites like Pinterest to see what others have done, or even hire a party planner (if you don’t want the hassle) and have them put together the perfect decoration scheme.
Contact Us: Tent Guys have so many differently-sized tents, along with various kinds of tables (square, round, rectangular, cocktail tables, etc.) and chairs. We set up the tent before your party and we return to take it down. We deliver the tables and chairs and you can set them up, or for a small fee we can do that part for you.
We have linens, tablecloths, drapery—all of varying shades and colors—so that you can coordinate those with your décor plans. Drapery can be a great way to create an atmosphere or set the mood, as well as functionally cover up the tent poles and hardware. We have some great ideas about how we can make all of that work.
We are here to help and we want to serve your family so that your graduate has the best possible day you can imagine! Hit us up!