DIY Grad Party Ideas!

By: Darcy Kelley

key to successAfter the senior pictures are taken, the last final is finished, and your name is finally called for you to cross the stage, only then are you officially graduated. Now it’s time to celebrate with your family and friends! Graduation parties have come a long way since I graduated in 1990 when I celebrated under the carport at my house. Today, grad parties have a more personal flare and there are oodles of unique and fun ideas to make it a memorable day.

A recent grad party I attended had a cool idea to attach keys to white tags for attendees to share their “Keys to Success” for the young graduate. After the hoopla of parties die down and the recent grad gets a moment to relax, they can reflect on the wisdom shared by family and friends. This is a great keepsake for the grad to have and revisit whenever they need encouragement.

class ringsNo matter what your age, candy is always a big hit at parties. Whether your child is graduating from kindergarten or college, a bowl full of ring pops is a clever way to decorate a table. Just fill a big glass bowl and label it “Class Rings.” I wouldn’t be surprised if you caught an adult or two dipping into this candy dish!

Photo booths are a popular way to entertain at parties and create wonderful memories as well. You don’t have to break the bank to rent a photo booth, simply build your own. You can create a wall full of streamers as your back drop and provide a basket full of fun props to use in the photos. Designate a photographer (doesn’t have to be a professional) and let the games begin. Find more ideas for backdrops on Pinterest.

photo opsSpeaking of pictures, you’ll want plenty of photos to honor the special graduate at the party. Long gone are the days of just sticking photos onto a poster board. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, mom)! Now parents are getting their creativity on by dangling photos from balloons or making cupcake toppers with the grads face. Actually, you can stick the grads face pretty much anywhere if you’re creative enough. Just have the photos printed on contact paper, cut out the image, and start sticking.

Hopefully these ideas have gotten your creative juices flowing. Take mental notes of ideas you like when you attend other grad parties or browse Pinterest for inspiration. It doesn’t matter where the idea comes from, celebrating your graduate comes from the heart and that will show no matter what you choose.

You’ve Graduated, Now What?


You graduated, now what? Our financial expert, Julie Cole, has some advice to help you get on the right track!

Whether you are joining the working world or getting ready for college, starting out right can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Successful money management begins with setting goals, making a budget, researching  financial matters, finding good financial partners and working your financial plan.

Here is a road map for success:

1. Make a list of your needs and wants (or necessities) versus luxuries. Take some time to prioritize your needs or necessities.

2. Create a monthly budget. Maintaining a car tends to be the largest expense for most young adults. Make sure your budget includes all auto expenses such as oil changes, replacement tires, repairs, insurance, gas and licensing fees.

3. Educate and research the options and tools available to help you reach your goals. Make sure your choice of financial vehicles meets your need. Financial products are designed to satisfy a particular financial need. You use a retirement savings product to saving for retirement, but not to save for college. Shop around for savings and checking accounts at your local credit union or bank. Some banks and credit unions have “special” accounts for young adults or allow you to “piggyback” on your family household account balances to give you specials. Ask for a pre-approved “line of credit” on your checking account to avoid overdraft fees.

4. Start building an emergency fund. Set aside 10% of your income until you have a nest egg. For working individuals you will want to build up a nest egg equal to 3 months of fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are those expenses that you are obligated to pay and don’t stop even if you are out of money. Examples include: your rent payment, car payment and auto insurance.

5. Start building good credit. A great way to do this is by getting a credit card that has a $500 credit limit. Use this credit card exclusively to purchase gas for your car. Pay off the balance each month so you don’t incur any finance charges. After 6 months of paying the balance off, on or before the due date of the payment, you will have established an good credit score.

6. Use shopping lists to help you avoid impulse purchases. It is estimated that impulse buying results in wasting 20% of your money.

7. Ask experts for assistance. Identify people who are successful and smart money managers and see if they will “mentor” you. Find out what things they did to become financially successful.

According to an August 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal, successful small businesses generally have one thing in common. Those owners who wrote a detailed business plan, made an annual budget and had a “small business coach” were 10 times more likely to succeed than those who did not have all of those 3 important elements. Set goals, make a plan, educate yourself and seek quality advice. These few steps will help you avoid many obstacles and set you up for financial success.