Party-planning tips for the college grad

Photo by Lori Tucker-Day.

A year of hard work (often in the surprisingly stressful digital sphere) has finally paid off for college seniors in Louisiana, and just in time for loosened restrictions on vaccinated Americans hoping to plan a little outdoor shindig to celebrate. A graduation party, though, doesn’t quite come with the rules associated with other celebrations. Should there be cake? Should there be games? And what kind of decorations are suitable for these newly degreed adults? To help raise our grade, we reached out to Lori Tucker-Day of Baton Bougie House Party for some surefire ways to safely plan a celebration to remember.

To decorate without looking too juvenile, for example, Tucker-Day recommends utilizing the foolproof technique of design: keep it neutral, but utilize a pop of color or texture.

Tucker-Day’s daughter Kenzie has recently completed her first year of grad school, and knows a thing or two about celebrating success during a pandemic. Photo by MG Miller.

“Keep your table decor simple,” she says. “Use real flowers, but real flowers that pop in color or style. Consider taking the leaves off and setting them in a clear small vase to accent the bloom—anything to help the surroundings stick out and reflect the graduate and their personality.”

Since May graduation typically falls during one of south Louisiana’s most temperate times of the year, outdoor events can be an ideal way to celebrate.

“We set up big bell tents in backyards for outdoor graduation parties, as well as low boho tables with pillows and poufs,” says Tucker-Day. “A simple tent and boho table can be transformed into a focal point for a party just by hanging lights, themed balloons and photo displays. That sort of setup also allows small groups to sit together but still feel a part of the larger party, especially for older people who need a cool, comfortable place they feel safe in. In most cases, a backyard party gives you more space to work with and the ability to decorate creatively. The vibe you create is the vibe that everyone will take!”

As far as food goes, the more mobile, the better.

Photo by Lori Tucker-Day.

“A food truck or sips-and-suds trailer is an amazing idea for graduation parties,” says Tucker-Day. “Designer plastic tableware with the cool charger and decor we place on the tables make it easy to walk up to the food truck, grab your food, sit, eat and drink.”

Then there’s the entertainment. A good DJ or two-person band can provide the essential musical element a good party needs—without that, people may have a harder time relaxing and settling in. Tucker-Day has also seen people go all out with dancers, flame-throwers and magicians, taking stock of the unique local talent in Baton Rouge. But the whole affair doesn’t have to be fancy.

“A simple backdrop can be made by just hanging a simple background of curtains in a pop of color, or using the geometrical wooden shaped backgrounds that are trendy right now,” she says. “You need to stand out, not the backdrop! My favorite solution is still to just hold up a cool frame for everyone to take pics in—you can keep five or six frames in front of that simple backdrop for people to use. I know that some of the best pictures I have ever taken of my daughter and her friends were with frames, and pictures are a must for memories.”

As for favors, Tucker-Day says skip the obvious trinkets–or skip them altogether.

Photo by Lori Tucker-Day.

“No one really wants to take a favor home,” says Tucker-Day. “Instead, we place real leaves in the middle of plates and write the guests’ names in gold on them—this still makes them feel special. Grad cookies are also something that could be placed on the plate at the table, since it could be eaten or popped in your purse for later. I’ve even uses bud vases as decor on the table, and tagged them for guests to take home. Add a cute saying, like ‘Can you believe how much we have grown!’ or ‘Grad 2021! ‘ for something short and sweet.”

Short and sweet—and free of sweat and stress.

“This year the norm is dressing nice, but still keeping it comfortable and fun,” says Tucker-Day. “Still, the people you surround yourself with and the memories you celebrate are what is truly important, so make sure you’re able to stay present in the moment. Killing yourself in the planning process and being so tired for the party is not a mistake you want to make.  Remember, graduation is a milestone you will always remember—make it special!”


Find out more about Baton Bougie House Party on the company’s website. And read more about them in this story from the inRegister archives. Need more party-planning ideas? Check out this story full of hot tips.