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Old 04-27-2013, 06:09 PM   #1
marcyinPA
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Class of 2013- what are you serving at your graduation party?

Looking for ideas. Not sure if I want to buy food at a BBQ place, or make my own. I know it's cheaper to cook- but we are having the party in July and it's going to be hot!

So far, I was thinking:
Pulled pork sliders
cole slaw
pasta salad
veggie tray
fruit tray

I am also having cupcakes made. We are having about 60 guests. I need another meat idea and maybe a hot side- like mac and cheese?
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Old 04-27-2013, 06:44 PM   #2
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DS would love to go to Europe this summer after graduating, but he knows it's not likely since his college fund is a little low. He was hoping that his merit aid plus our contribution would be enough, but he needs to come up with a couple thousand working this summer plus the money for the trip. So it's not likely to happen. So we (mostly I) have decided to throw a:
DS' "European Graduation Trip" party
and the food will be different countries from around Europe.
I need them to be fairly easy or make ahead because time will be in short supply.

This is on the list for right now (it may get tweaked a bit):
Spanakopita from Greece (easy make ahead to freeze)
Spanish empanadas (easy make ahead)
Bratwurst from Germany (and the rolls from Costco)
Pierogi from Poland (I think I can buy these in frozen food section)
Risotto from Italy (this is probably the dish that will need to be last minute)
Papa Seco (bread) from Portugal
Crème brule from France
Linzer tortes cookies from Austria (make ahead, assemble that day)
Magen brot (gingerbread) from Switzerland
Earl grey iced tea (a twist from UK)
apple cider from Russia
& probably some European beer and/or wine if enough adults attend
plus some fresh fruit and veggies

DH says it may be too much "foreign" food for teen-agers, but I say it's our party too! We're celebrating this big life change for all of us. (he's the last to leave the nest)

Ideas for you since it will be hot how about using crock pots for baked beans and the pulled pork. And what about shrimp cocktail you could have the larger shrimps and a bowl of sauce all setting on crushed ice. And if there's going to be a fire/BBQ what about s'mores fixins?
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcyinPA View Post
Looking for ideas. Not sure if I want to buy food at a BBQ place, or make my own. I know it's cheaper to cook- but we are having the party in July and it's going to be hot!

So far, I was thinking:
Pulled pork sliders
cole slaw
pasta salad
veggie tray
fruit tray

I am also having cupcakes made. We are having about 60 guests. I need another meat idea and maybe a hot side- like mac and cheese?
Mom of a Class of 2012 DD - offering some advice:
We picked and chose what we wanted to make, vs. what we purchased "ready-to eat". We had 100 people coming. The foods we purchased R-T-E were - BBQ pork, BBQ Chicken, Ham, Fruit Salad, Veggie Trays, a Pasta Salad, Cheese and Sausage Trays, and the cakes and rolls.

We made: A hot shredded beef (NOT BBQ), coleslaw, layered taco dip, and 20#'s of Hot German Potato Salad.

The potato salad about killed me...but it is a family recipe.

Don't forget - you want to spend some time with your guests, instead of being a work-horse in your kitchen. Our list was logistical - our food was picked up just before the party, so it didn't take up any room in the fridge prior to the party. "Not" cutting up fruit prior to the party was a good move for me - I don't like cutting up fruit. The taco trays - easy peasy - I did most of it the night before, and had all the different layers ready to put on the cream part just before I put them out. The coleslaw - again, easy peasy. The shredded beef - also cooked the day bore. The potato salad was a pain, but due to the family politics, needed to be homemade. That took up a ton of fridge space before the party.

But - my BEST advice to pass along (thanks to my SIL who was staying at our house): Pick up your ice early in the day. When the grad parties are in full swing...stores will sell out of ice. You'll find it eventually, but it might take until the 5th or 6th store. And who has time for that?

Have fun with all your parties - I know that DD really enjoyed hers!
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:09 AM   #4
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My DD graduates at the end of May.

I've been working on this menu for about a month now.

Sloppy joes in the crock pot
Mini turkey sandwiches on Hawaiian bread
Spinach dip
Pasta salad
Queso and rotel in the another crock pot with chips
Chocolate fountain with lots of food to dip
Homemade cupcakes as requested by my daughter

Might add a veggie tray but haven't decided yet.

For the last month, as items (box stuff) have been on sale or buy one get one free, I've been buying them and stocking them in the pantry. Soda 2 liters were buy one get one free a few weeks ago so the entire floor of my pantry is full!
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:49 AM   #5
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I'll be keeping my eye on this thread. My DS17 will be graduating next June and I'm sure I can get some great ideas from this thread.

My nephew is graduating this year and his parents are throwing a "Luau" type party. I guess she's doing a pig roast along with the regular hamburger/hot dog/pasta salads type BBQ stuff. ****Speaking of which, something about what she said while talking with her struck a nerve with me. When she told me that she was also having the burgers/hot dogs, I had asked her if she's also doing all the "pasta salads, chips, dips, etc" that usually goes along with the BBQ. She said, "oh yeah...WELL, I'm hoping everyone can bring a dish or two since the pig is going to cost a lot of money" I know this has been discussed on here before but I think if you're throwing a party, you should be supplying the food and not "hoping everyone will bring a dish or two" because it'll be expensive. I mean if Aunt Betty wants to bring her famous jello mold than so be it, but to basically expect many people to bring something to lessen her cost seems odd to me. AND THEN, she tells me it is going to be a graduation/10th wedding anniversary combo party. It's their wedding anniversary and she told me that, "I can't wait. 'I'VE' always wanted to have a Luau party". It's almost like she's having this party for herself because "SHE" wants the Luau, not for her son.

So tell me this. Are we supposed to bring a gift for the wedding anniversary too? LOL

Last edited by maslex; 04-28-2013 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:51 AM   #6
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My oldest graduated in 2012, so it just feels like yesterday that I was in your shoes. The year prior we also had a graduation party for one of her closest friends due to an unfortunate family situation.

The things I learned: it is not possible for me to relax and enjoy myself if I'm having to deal too much with the food. When family volunteers to bring something, say yes.

My family was wonderful and volunteered to bring certain dishes. To go along with that, I ordered Canes Chicken and bread. In addition, we pre grilled Italian sausage and had the in trays under Bunson burners. No cooking! Trust me, you will have plenty to prepare. We had 200 people and we all had a great time!

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:26 AM   #7
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We have had several graduation parties with one more to go!

In the past we have done a pig pickin' put it was from a local company. They brought the pig in the smoker and everything, fried chicken, coleslaw, beans and iced tea. It was so nice to do it this way since they delivered the morning of graduation around 11. It gets really hot here so it was nice to not have the bbq grill going at 1pm when it was over 100 degrees.

That being said, we have also ordered from an Italian Rest - Lasgna, salad, bread, pasta salad and meatballs.

One year we did do hamb and brats on the grill with potato salad, pasta salad, regular salad, chips, veggie and fruit trays. We had fewer people that year. My son was one of 3 grandchildren that graduated so our family had to split up a bit to make sure every child had family in attendance.

We always get a large cake, some cupcakes for the little people, and there is this great little bakery around the corner where I get some dessert cookies and things for those who want a light dessert.

Have a great time. Like another posted, its hard the day of to have to do to many things if it happens to be ON graduation day. In our area that is when most have them, night before or day of and the kids go from house to house. It can be hot, so avoiding to many foods that have to be cooked is always nice. I agree with the ice. We always get the beer/sodas on ice the morning of and put in the garage. I always have things to nibble on like the veggie/cheese/fruit platters. Some people do not like to eat too much when it is warm and often times with kids coming and going there is nibbling going on all day!

Congrats to your graduate!
Kelly

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Old 04-28-2013, 10:56 AM   #8
marcyinPA
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Thanks for all the great ideas so far! We are having the party in the clubhouse of my mom's condo complex, and thankfully it is air conditioned. But, it also means that I will have to transport everything during the day from my house- or at least get everything over to my mom's and bring it to the clubhouse. I am going to have to be super organized since we aren't having it at home. Probably a good idea to compile a list of what we will need.

I also have this desire to be all crafty and stuff like they show on Pinterest- but the truth is that I don't have a crafty bone in my body. I am not good at decorating at all. I guess that is something I just need to give up and get over
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:46 AM   #9
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Ours is a bit different. We are having DS17s party in the "community room" of my parents retirement apartment. They live 6 hours from us, as do the rest of my family, and DHs family. Instead of 6 car loads of people coming to us, we are going to them. I planned to have a party there and a party here, but DS really doesn't want ANY party, but agreed to make the Grandparents happy.

Our party will be about 40 people, max. Come and go from 2-5.

I will arrive the day before around 3. DS will arrive about 2 hours before the party, maybe one hour! So the food has to be easy.
I was thinking...subway sandwiches, veg tray, fruit tray, chips, onion dip, spinach dip, queso in crock pot, cake and cupcakes.

If I get ambitious, I will do fancy iced sugar cookies, mostly as favors. After reading others...I'm wondering if I should do pulled pork in a crock pot too? Or maybe just those pinwheel tortilla roll up things? I don't want to appear cheap, but a lot of leftover food won't work very well either. Do I need to do pasta salad? People will have had lunch when they arrive and be leaving before dinner, I don't know how much will get eaten. I think I could almost get by with just cake and punch!
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:04 PM   #10
marcyinPA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Belle View Post
Ours is a bit different. We are having DS17s party in the "community room" of my parents retirement apartment. They live 6 hours from us, as do the rest of my family, and DHs family. Instead of 6 car loads of people coming to us, we are going to them. I planned to have a party there and a party here, but DS really doesn't want ANY party, but agreed to make the Grandparents happy.

Our party will be about 40 people, max. Come and go from 2-5.

I will arrive the day before around 3. DS will arrive about 2 hours before the party, maybe one hour! So the food has to be easy.
I was thinking...subway sandwiches, veg tray, fruit tray, chips, onion dip, spinach dip, queso in crock pot, cake and cupcakes.

If I get ambitious, I will do fancy iced sugar cookies, mostly as favors. After reading others...I'm wondering if I should do pulled pork in a crock pot too? Or maybe just those pinwheel tortilla roll up things? I don't want to appear cheap, but a lot of leftover food won't work very well either. Do I need to do pasta salad? People will have had lunch when they arrive and be leaving before dinner, I don't know how much will get eaten. I think I could almost get by with just cake and punch!
You know, with your time frame, I think you could almost do a dessert buffet and add a fruit tray- and coffee, tea and punch- and be done with it. You are right- most people will have eaten lunch anyway, and then will eat dinner. If I were in your circumstances, I would do this! I would just put on the invites to join you for a graduation dessert buffet or however you want to word it- so people know that there won't be "real" food.
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:51 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by marcyinPA View Post
You know, with your time frame, I think you could almost do a dessert buffet and add a fruit tray- and coffee, tea and punch- and be done with it. You are right- most people will have eaten lunch anyway, and then will eat dinner. If I were in your circumstances, I would do this! I would just put on the invites to join you for a graduation dessert buffet or however you want to word it- so people know that there won't be "real" food.
Thanks for the great idea! My kids say "SWEET" as we used to say "Awesome" or "Cool"... so maybe it could be DS is graduating...SWEET! Join us for Sweets!

Is that too corny?
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:41 PM   #12
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We're trying to figure this all out too. Sometimes I miss the good old days where everyone had ham buns, tuna salad and veggies. I had french dips for mine and that was odd for those days. I would love to do pulled pork, but my graduate hates the stuff.

It's hard to know how much to plan for. We don't have a ton of family in town and there are two other graduates in the family besides dd. The family member that's an hour away is planning their party several weeks before ours and I have no idea what the family member who lives two hours away is doing. The kids go from party to party and don't eat a ton, but then again they might like what we have and go crazy. I went to a party for one of dd's friends last year and they ran out of food really early. The parents didn't seem to care a whole lot. I would have been mortified.

DH wants to do burgers and brats on the grill, but then he's stuck cooking the whole time. I guess we'll figure it out.
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcyinPA View Post
Thanks for all the great ideas so far! We are having the party in the clubhouse of my mom's condo complex, and thankfully it is air conditioned. But, it also means that I will have to transport everything during the day from my house- or at least get everything over to my mom's and bring it to the clubhouse. I am going to have to be super organized since we aren't having it at home. Probably a good idea to compile a list of what we will need.

I also have this desire to be all crafty and stuff like they show on Pinterest- but the truth is that I don't have a crafty bone in my body. I am not good at decorating at all. I guess that is something I just need to give up and get over
Decorating for a grad party can be as simple as pulling out all the momento's from their first pair of baby shoes on. We had saved a small box of stuff from each of our DD's grades when she was younger. So - it was a fun table to look at some things. We also had a spot where all her sports/activity medals/high school letters were. And the piece that "topped it all off" we got a pennant from her college. It was a nice trip down memory lane - especially seeing some of her early writings from kindergarten. DD had also done a couple of posters that "where about her" one in kindergarten and one in middle school - so we had those out too.
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:23 PM   #14
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My DS is graduating in 3 weeks and to know him is to know how much he loves burgers, so we are having a burger bar. We will grill them ourselves out on the deck. We have a pool so, it's really just a good old fashioned pool party, but it's what he wants! We do have a fire pit too, so besides the usual graduation cake, I think i might do a smore bar too with different flavored marshmallows and chocolates. I did get that idea from pinterest.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:15 PM   #15
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The last time I served bbq at a party I had the meat catered and made the bbq beans and salad myself. I also had a baked potato bar which was cheap to do and a big hit. I didn't realize how popular baked potatoes are.

Two options that are relatively inexpensive to prep in advance but are very popular are:

taco bar:
-preshredded cheese
-black or refried beans
-sour cream
-salsa
-mixed veggies (bell peppers, onions and tomatillos if in season) sauted with taco seasoning
-ground beef
-mexican rice
-chips
-shredded lettuce
-flour tortillas
-taco shells
-guacamole

Everything can be prepped in advance or premade other than the guacamole

Dessert bar
- a variety of premade small desserts
-fondue or ice cream sundae station
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