We had our second homeschool graduation this past Saturday. We've learned a few things since our first graduation ceremony. We held the graduation in our church's fellowship hall again, which also doubles as a children's ministry area. We tried to remove some of the ministry decor, but we decorated around the rest of it.
(Quick confession: I only took about half these photos. My sister and my sister-in-law took the rest of them. We arrived with a dead camera battery, and we were also rather busy. A friend also took pictures of the people who were there, and we are thankful he shared them with us.)
This year, we skipped the rectangular tables and the rows of chairs which were supposed to separate the graduation ceremony area from the reception area. Instead we set up 12 round tables. (Well, actually we had help from church family to set up those tables. Thank you!) Our daughter and a friend planned out our table decorations which included framed quotes and a candle on some tables, framed senior pics and a candle on other tables, and balloon bouquets and a candle on the remaining tables.
I had bought a journal to double as a guest book and a graduation gift for 18 yo R. But she had the idea to buy these large paper letters from Hobby Lobby and paint them, then have the guests sign them. She plans to hang them on her bedroom wall. We also had the guests address their own thank you envelopes again, but this time we used a little yellow chalkboard to explain the process. She also had wallet-sized senior photos setting on this table for guests to take with them.
We learned we didn't need 2 large sheet cakes and 4 smaller cakes this time! (Go ahead, laugh at us.) We were planning on 2 large sheet cakes but then I found a graduation-cap shaped cake pan I wanted to use, as well. We only used half of each large sheet cake and didn't touch the graduation cap cake at all.
In addition to cake, my daughter wanted to have a cereal bar. We had four types of cereal and pitchers of milk on the table for guests. We also over-bought on cereal. But the kids will eat it all. No worries, there!
On our second refreshment table, we had mini-cheesecake bites, cheese and crackers, mixed nuts, and also an assortment of fruits and fruit dip. Our punch was blue (easy blue punch recipe) and we also had lemonade in another punch bowl for a bit of yellow at the table. In this picture, we hadn't mixed the blue punch yet.
Our "Honor the Grad" table included framed baby photos and senior photos once again. This time, instead of a yellow roses, R had selected some artificial flowers at Hobby Lobby for a blue and yellow bouquet. She has them in her room now. She included some Dr. Suess block quotes from "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" and also her Up-inspired artwork she received for Christmas. We had a baby scrapbook and her diploma laying on the table, as well.
To be completely honest, while I was at home trying to get cakes baked and decorated with Steve on Friday, R was setting up most of the reception area herself. When we arrived Saturday morning, we had some last-minute things like balloons to take care of, hanging the glitter "Congrats Grad" Banner we made 2 years ago and setting out food.
This time, we came prepared with a lunch plan for the family members helping us set up. But we still had to make a Wal-Mart run for some forgotten items, including PB&J for those who didn't like the BBQ shredded pork loin we'd brought. Next time, we need to figure out how to have the cheese and fruit pre-sliced if we do that again. And once again, we didn't have someone at the cake table when we finished the ceremony, and our family was all at the other end of the room.
Speaking of the actual graduation ceremony, this time we went with a very short, simple, relaxed ceremony at the very beginning. Steve welcomed everyone and gave his speech, then I had a short one for our daughter, as well. After that, Steve presented her diploma to her, and we moved on to the party. That is what R wanted for her graduation. She created a play list of music and a slideshow of pictures that played throughout the reception, but weren't shown during the actual graduation. It was a good day, though I'm thinking that 3 hours is about an hour too long for the reception.
What will we consider doing differently next time? We'll shorten the reception time, and have half the amount of food. Though we could probably get by with only one large sheet cake, I'm sure we'll have two cakes, although one may be the smaller graduation cap again. Speaking of cakes, my brother-in-law saved the day on one cake that fell apart coming out of the pan, and also on making the frosting perfectly smooth and easy to decorate on. I need to practice that smooth surface before the next graduation.
I'm learning that every graduation we do will be very different. C should graduate in two years and she's not sure she wants a blue and gold party. We'll have to see how she feels in 2 years. J has about 4 years to go and he's not sure he wants a party at all. I expect his will be very low-key. But that's fine. I want each celebration to be a reflection of that child's individual interests and personality.
This week, I went with R to college enrollment for next year. She plans to major in Business Administration. She's already starting her adventure!
(this picture courtesy of B. Steffen)
Good luck to our 2015 Graduate!
This post has been entered into The July issue of The Carnival of Homeschooling, at Home Spun Juggling.