It’s May again already. Graduation is in the air. You can almost smell the achievements and success; the promise of opportunities to come. Of course, you can also feel the stress of the looming “Graduation Party” planning.

This was about where I was last year when our middle was getting ready to graduate from high school. Three years earlier, I had the good fortune of having my dear organized friend, Nancy, and a few other neighbors spearhead a joint party for my daughter, Emily, and their four daughters. I was the perfect Indian. I did whatever anyone asked of me, and needless to say, the party was a success.

Last year, however, our daughter, Ellen, just wanted a party with her closest friend since first grade, Caitlan. Now, I was all for that, except for one thing. Denise, my good friend, is also Caitlan’s mom. The problem is, neither one of us was really into the “party planning”.

Enter Kim: party planner extraordinaire

Enter Julie (my sister): organizer and implementer extraordinaire

I felt like I had hit the jackpot!

My worries were over—Kim said give her the budget, and except for finding a few childhood photos of Ellen and Caitlan, that was my only task. Well, I didn’t waste another minute, I kicked back and started doing yoga daily. Now, that’s the way to plan a party! Now, its May again, and I know there are many stressful mom’s out there, freaking out about food for their party, decorations, favors, cake, good God the list goes on and on. And not all of us are Martha Stewart!

Well, today you’re in luck; Kim is going to give us the 3 most essential tips for hosting any type of party.

1. Food — this is by far the most important. As long as the food is good, it’s a good party. And don’t feel like you have to break the bank. We did a Southern Barbecue them with Pulled pork and chicken, slaw and mac and cheese. The kids loved it! And I saw more than one parent dive into that mac and cheese twice. Now, we ordered our food from a local barbecue joint because we had some time constraints, but you could easily produce this meal without hours and hours of effort. Check out this great slaw recipe from Pioneer Woman. Also, our own Mac and Cheese recipe gets rave reviews from family and friends. Here is a mouth watering pulled pork recipe from Kevin and Amanda.

2. Entertainment – okay, I was about to nix this because of budget. But, Kim encouraged me not to; she knew a guitar play who played a lot of country and easy listening songs. Well, I will tell you, people danced, and it was 5 pm in the afternoon. It was a huge hit. Not everyone can have live music, but, be sure to get a great play list and speakers to set the mood!

3. Make it personal — this is where the creativity comes in! Kim had Denise and me collect old photos of Catilan and Ellen. Then she mounted them on scrapbook paper, and decorated them by adding cute embellishments. She completed the look by hanging them on branches, spray painted a metallic silver.

The center attraction was the brilliant Canditini Bar. Jars of assorted candies and martini glasses surrounded a centerpiece with silver tree branches. The branches held the “to go” paper cartons and more memorable pictures of best friends. It was so personal for Ellen and Caitlan, a history of their friendship on display. And hey, who doesn’t love candy? We skipped the cake and no one seemed to miss it this time!

So there you have it. Great food, some sort of entertainment and personalized for the graduate. It’s not as complicated as it seems. Of course, great help doesn’t hurt either!

Congrats to the 2014 Graduates!

hogs and kisses,