With the graduation ceremony past (you can read about it here), we turned our concentration to the graduation party!
What an exciting time for our family! Our first child and only daughter was now a high school graduate. It is something to celebrate and we decided to so with our family and friends, inviting them to our home for a graduation party (open house).
I think planning this party came fairly easy to me. We carried over the decorations (tulle and flowers) from the ceremony to the party. We had planned on doing small center pieces for the tables our guests would sit at but rain prevented us from getting those out (Here is my post about the rain and God’s promise to me to “hold it in His hand”).
Thinking to past years and other parties we had attended, we selected what details from those that would work best for us. Because using our garage was not an option (it is currently a woodworking shop and also not very large), we decided we would have guests enter the front door into the living area, where they would see pictures of M and could watch the graduation video her dad made as well as leave a memory on a memory card (which M will later place in a photo album). M also had her Journal Bible out for people to leave a special verse or note for her.
From there the guests would go into the dining area where they could make a plate of food or choose a piece of cake before exiting through the sliding door to the deck and backyard. We opted for bottled water and a soda pop selection that we kept on the deck. We were hoping for a smoothness to the evening by spreading areas out a bit…. and it worked well.
We planned a Saturday ~ late afternoon and evening (4:00 to 7:00 to be exact). M loves to stay away from what’s “normal” and likes to be unique. So in deciding a menu she opted for grilled chicken – something that isn’t often served at graduation parties around here. All in all, the menu proved to be quite easy to prepare and was one that many enjoyed.
This was our full menu:
Grilled Chicken Breast
Fruit & Veggies
Cheese Dip & Crackers
Chocolate or White Cake
We planned for 150. I followed a food chart that I found via a google search to help me calculate how much food to prepare… then I wondered if it was enough, too much, or just right. (does anyone plan a large party and not question this?)
Early on, we investigated whether it would be best to purchase already frozen chicken breast or fresh. We found that the frozen was not a good choice due to it being “enhanced with up to 15% solution” that was noted on the bag and when we grilled it, it shrunk. Quite a bit. That was not what we wanted so we purchased fresh chicken breast and it was surprisingly easy to prep. We trimmed the pieces that needed it (and saved the trimmings to use for dog food), sliced extra thick pieces lengthwise and cut extra large pieces in half. We placed 15 pieces into a gallon sized freezer bag (with the plastic “zipper”) and added our sauce (2 cups of either BBQ sauce or Italian dressing ~ We did some with each kind) before zipping it up and placing it in the freezer. The night before serving, we removed the bags from the freezer allowed them to thaw and then placed them on the grilled. Prepping the breasts this way made for very tasty, moist chicken.
Our fruit and veggies were simple. Baby carrots needed no prep. Celery just needed washing then cutting. We did this the day before serving, storing them in gallon storage bags in the refrigerator. We purchased vegetable dip rather than making it (due to ease). The fruit included quartered watermelon slices (with the rind) and grapes that were simply washed with vinegar water and cut into smaller bundles (not taken off the vine).
My mom baked the rolls a couple weeks prior and just placed them in freezer bags in the freezer until it was time to thaw when needed. I would do this again as it worked out really well and was very cost effective.
The cheese dip that M selected is a family favorite and was raved about at the party so I will share the recipe:
Jodi’s Cheese Dip
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp parsely
2 cups finely shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
Directions: Mix all ingredients together mixing in the cheese last. Refrigerate over night for best flavor.
M found a recipe calculator to transform our recipe into one for 150 people. Yay! It was super easy. My mother-in-law mixed that up for us.
The cake was beautiful. We found a picture of a cake that M liked on google images and printed that off for our baker. We found a local baker that was tasty and inexpensive. We learned to check around with different bakers as cake prices vary quite a bit. We ordered 2 full sheets expecting to freeze leftovers for another day. We would have run out had we only ordered one so that worked out really well.
Overall, our menu was simple but was enjoyed by many.
The whole party was enjoyable! We feel very blessed to share this special time in our lives with people we love!