If you follow us on social media, particularly on Instagram since you see more of me over there (Christy handles Facebook) then you know that my oldest son is (or was!) a senior in high school this year.
To say this was not the ending we expected for him would be an understatement. I am “that mom” 😉, not only was I co-chairing the After Prom celebration for the high school (which obviously didn’t happen) but I have had a BIG graduation party in the works for him for almost a year. We were really looking forward to celebrating his graduation with friends and especially our large extended family. It is tough to miss this experience on so many levels, but I know our story is not unique.
Obviously all our plans changed. It’s bittersweet, especially right now in that it all should be going on this week, but this situation is what it is. In these times, with so many people going through so much, it seems frivolous to mourn the loss of a party or a graduation ceremony.
Today I wanted to share some ideas for making a graduate feel special during this unique time. I am amazed by how many fun and creative ideas are out there, it shows how resilient and adaptable we all really are.
The first (and honestly one of my favorite parts) thing was our neighborhood had a huge graduation parade for the seniors last weekend. This was a tremendous way to celebrate the Class of 2020. It didn’t hurt that it was held on the first warm, sunny Saturday evening in recent memory. I think everyone in the neighborhood was happy to get outside, cheer the graduates on and reunite with their neighbors and friends. It was happy time after a time of much fear and isolation.
We are lucky that we live in a very large neighborhood (1000+ homes) so kids came in from all over, they estimate we had a 100 cars in all. The fire trucks led the way with sirens blaring and rules about riding in the backs off trucks, etc. were relaxed (it was technically a “private” parade). Vehicles were all decorated and the kids donned their caps and gowns for the occasion. It was wonderful to see the joy on the kids faces, this event went a very long way in making them feel special after having event after event cancelled.
We had individual graduation ceremonies at the high school this week, and while I didn’t necessarily agree with this plan (the surrounding counties are holding traditional graduations in August) it at least gave the kids the chance to walk a stage and receive their diploma.
While only my husband and I were allowed to attend with our son and our other two children were allowed to watch from the stadium stand, it saddened me that my parents weren’t able to be there to watch their oldest grandson graduate. We went directly from graduation to their home for a brunch afterwards. At this point in the quarantine it was so nice to all be back together to celebrate. My mom served a beautiful brunch and decorated her house to celebrate my son. She even made a collage of pictures of him throughout his life. I don’t think he took his graduation gown off the entire day.
I ordered a large personalized banner for him from HERE quite a while ago, thinking we’d use it at the party. I think it is a fun way to celebrate him, so I’ll leave it up on our porch for the rest of the week. It was reasonably priced and we’ll use it again when we (finally!) have a graduation party.
Obviously, graduation announcements are an important tradition around graduation. I had ordered his way in advance via my favorite paper company, MINTED. Unfortunately, my proactiveness meant that the original party details were printed on the announcement/invite, and that party obviously has been postponed. I went ahead and sent out announcements to our closest family and friends since I had them on hand (with the party info blocked out) but plan to reprint a new party invite once we reschedule.
When we can have a party for him, we absolutely will. I’m still hoping to do something on a smaller scale (probably at our home vs. in the community clubhouse) later this summer. Here are the items that I had ordered or plan to order.
I love the fun, customizable cups and napkins from Natalie Chang, her online store is here. For the party I planned to order cups and napkins from Natalie in his school colors (green and orange).
Here are some other ideas to make a graduate feel special. You can get cute personalized yard signs for outside your home. Our high school school actually dropped one in each senior’s yard (shown below) to surprise them (thank you awesome teachers!), but you can order a similar one here. I also like these banners for a porch or doorway. You can order a personalized sign here.
It would have been fun to have a balloon arch over our porch during the parade, something I thought of after the fact. These are super easy to create, and a cute way to celebrate a graduation. This would be cute for a younger child, my daughter should have had an elementary graduation so I am brainstorming some ideas for her next week when her school year would have ended.
You can’t go wrong with some fun balloons, you can order these numbered ones online and have them blown up at a grocery store or just get a tank from a craft store.
Finally, I have been working on a photo book for my son with his high school memories. When he finished middle school I created a banner for his room based off his instagram photos. He’s outgrown the stage where he posts often on IG, so I am bugging him about sending me some of his phone photos and I am pulling family photos off my phone and compiling them into a book. Looking back I realized how much he’s done in high school, it will be nice to have all his memories in print not just on my phone. You can make your own with a book like this, or order from a company like Shutterfly.
If you know of a graduate, here are some thoughts on supporting them. Christy shared gradation gift ideas in this post HERE. I think the most important thing is to recognize their story this year. This is unusual situation and these kids are struggling to process not only a major life change but it happening in a completely unexpected and abrupt way. Send them a note, drop off a small gift if you are close to them, but most importantly just recognize that this is a strange time for them. I have been impressed by how the kids I know have handled the recent events. I believe that the Class of 2020 will continue to go on and impress us with their resilience, their perseverance and their adaptability for many years to come.XO,