We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog posts to bring you….Life. Yes, Life took over for the last few weeks and stole all my blogging time. I do apologize for leaving you abandoned, and I thank so many of you who wrote to ask if everything was okay. It was nice to be missed. 🙂 I mentioned in the last post our daughter was graduating from college, and I would be planning a big party to celebrate this milestone in her life. As I was planning it out, my main goal besides making it nice for her was to be totally finished with everything an hour (or more) before it was to start so that I wasn’t running around like a chicken with my head cut off when our guests arrived. I planned and planned and planned.
At first, knowing what a Disney fan our daughter is, I wanted to do an Up themed graduation party borrowing ideas from weddings and this party:
I had compiled quite a looong list of ideas, but after spending many hours checking countless sources, I could never find a model house from the movie that was reasonably priced and/or could be completed before the party. Without that house, the theme would be lacking a major component. So I abandoned that theme and just went in a different Disney direction…a more mature one. This wedding had centerpieces, invitations, and table and place cards that would work well for a graduation party:
After making a list of items needed for it, I decided it would be too costly and too time consuming (in 2 weeks) to be able to pull it off. So I started over with a different plan. In the meantime, I helped some friends plan a big retirement party for a friend – making chalkboards and flower arrangements for it. (Sorry, I have no photos of it all. 🙁 )I spent a day with my mom on a garden tour for her Mother’s Day gift, (I do have photos of it we’ll see later on 🙂 ) and I spent some time with my sister buying furniture for her son’s first apartment.
And then – and this is the big time killer – I decided the graduation party would need to be held outside in our yard so that it would be accessible to my father-in-law who has a hard time with the steps going up to the house. Holding that party outside meant hours and hours and hours of work on landscaping by both my husband and me. It also meant I had to clean the outside of the house, wash and repaint all the outdoor furniture, and get all the pots on the porches and decks replanted with flowers for the summer. We worked well after dark many evenings during the last couple of weeks.
And then there was all the research/shopping for things for this party. At first I thought about renting tables and chairs, but eventually we decided to borrow a few tables, purchase 4 tables, borrow 4 chairs, and put them with our mismatched chairs. But if the chairs were not all the same style, they were at least all going to all be the same color – black. So any chair around here that wasn’t already black got painted black by me. (Yet another job.)
The next few photos show all the pre-party items stacked up in my workroom as it became party central with all the plates (Caterer’s sets from Pottery Barn) and glasses (Hobnail acrylic ones from Pottery Barn.) I found multiple red napkins at Pier 1, so I loaded up on them. After much searching for inexpensive but nice looking flatware, I found service for 8 at Walmart for $9.99. It was perfect for an outdoor lunch, so I bought 3 sets of it.
I researched table linens until I was cross eyed! I finally found some reasonably priced but good quality white ones at Amazon.com and ordered them. Then I decided to just use the Ikea fabric that I was saving for new drapes in my master bedroom as the toppers for the tables. I cut them to panel lengths and washed and ironed all of them. (Ironing took FOREVER.)
After surveying our daughter about all her favorite foods, I was able to put together a good menu for the party. Because I knew we would be spending Saturday with graduation activities very little time would be available for food prep. I decided to contact The Perfect Pear catering to make a large portion of our dishes. (Everything they make is delicious!) Serving dishes were chosen and stored in the workroom, along with chalkboards and small signs.
Party favors (mini pecan pies)were wrapped and stored in a basket in my workroom.
Our daughter’s favorite flowers are red gerbera daisies. I ordered 50 stems from a local florist and made eight arrangements using them, some greenery from a tree growing near the road here, and some babies breath and a few other blooms from our local Kroger grocery store. You can see my jar collection came in handy here!
The graduation party was set for last Sunday, but graduation itself was on Saturday. Here is where the title of today’s post comes in. The guest speaker for our daughter’s commencement ceremony was former president Jimmy Carter. He urged the graduates to make world peace and human rights a major part of the goals for their life. Here he is at the podium.
When he finished, they showed a few video clips from his campaign days on the big screen…
and a few video clips of the Allman Brothers band from the days when they would play at his campaign stops. (He said they were the reason he was elected. 🙂 )
Then Greg Allman himself played as the special graduation music. Our daughter’s roommate is named Missy – short for Melissa, and her father is a big Allman Brothers fan. So much so that Missy was named after Melissa in the band’s song Sweet Melissa. Well guess what was the first song Greg Allman sang at graduation… Sweet Melissa. 🙂 Let’s just say that made Missy’s day…week…entire life (to quote her)!
After Greg Allman sang, Jimmy Carter and the university’s president presented him with an honorary doctorate degree in Humanities for his work in the arts. A few more honors were presented, and then it was time to award diplomas. Can you tell our daughter was excited?! 🙂
And then it was photo time with dad… and boyfriend… and grandmothers… and brother – who made it home from Yale late the night before.
Oh and photos with Missy. 🙂
We all then went to dinner at Daphne Lodge. Sunday, the day for the party, arrived with gorgeous weather. I forgot to photograph the entire setting before the party, but this shows it in a photo we took afterwards.
Here is the “guest book” (a notepad) for everyone to sign with their words of wisdom.
I think “words of wisdom” might just be the theme for the party. It was inspired by candles I found at Homegoods.
We moved some of the porch and family room furniture outside for seating.
A cornhole game was set up in the yard.
Here is the beverage area before the coffee tray was brought out.
Our daughter loves pie. So we had a pie bar for our dessert station. I used ice packs to keep all the food cool outside. Even with the ice packs the chess pie wanted to melt a little, so we moved a large umbrella around to shade the table. Amazingly, the key lime pies stayed very cold through it all. (Ignore the gold doilies that are trying to fly away here in the photo.)
This is the food table. Besides the catered food, my mother made deviled eggs, a huge fruit salad, and the Ramen noodle and romaine lettuce salad for me.
For the centerpieces, I used small easels (from Michaels) to hold those quote cards from Target that I love….more words of wisdom. 🙂
The quote cards were also part of the place cards at each place setting. (The gold straws and graduation cap straw toppers came from Target – sold separately.)
Under the quote card was a Table Topics question for each guest to discuss with the people around them.
And here are a couple of tables all set up.
(A couple of glasses are missing at the end of the table here because guests had already grabbed them to fill before I took the photo.)
And here is the guest of honor. 🙂
It was quite a gathering of friends and relatives.
to big kids…
to friends and boyfriend
(and even boyfriend’s sister. 🙂 )
And aunts and uncles and cousins…And when they all left 3 hours later, they took a mini pecan pie home with them.
And that was the graduation party from start to finish that kept me busy the last 2 weeks.
You know how I said I wanted to be ready an hour before the party? Well even with all that planning, and laying everything out, and all that help, (which included my former cleaning lady who has not worked for me in years showing up out of the blue on Friday because she said she owed me cleaning for making her some drapes!) I still wasn’t ready. We didn’t get to do the balloons for the tables, and I didn’t get to make the turkey sandwiches I had planned on preparing. We were all still scurrying around as guests arrived. I don’t think I will ever be totally ready early for any party, but regardless, I still think it all turned out very well.
Later that evening as I was washing dishes, our daughter came into the kitchen, hugged me and said, “Thank you for the great party.” I replied, “You’re welcome, but I am not doing your wedding whenever the time comes for it.” She just grinned and said, “Oh yes you are Mom!” 🙂
I’ll have part 2 from the long ago home tour for you in the next post. I just felt like I owed you a party for being away sooo long. Thank you so much for coming back to visit! 🙂
Until next time…
p.s. Okay…because you all are asking, I am adding one photo with me in it. Remember, though, I am the one with the camera. So that is why you don’t see me in photos. 🙂 (Plus I absolutely hate having my photo taken.)
There you go. 🙂