And so the countdown begins. In just a few short weeks your son or daughter will be graduating from high school and you’ll be celebrating all their years of hard work and dedication and a future full of new and exciting opportunities by throwing a festive graduation party in their honor.
You’ve worked tirelessly to make sure the party goes off without a hitch. Everything from the food and drinks to the decorations and desserts has been planned and organized with your grad in mind.
However, before the big day arrives, perhaps there’s one more thing you should add to your last minute to-do list – a little refresher for your grad in the basic manners department.
Let’s be honest, we all know teenagers try their very best, but they are teenagers and they’re still mastering the art of social etiquette. Plus, it’s not as if they’ve had a ton of experience being the “guest of honor.”
To make sure your grad is a gracious and welcoming host at their graduation party, here’s 6 simple “mannerly” tips they should keep in mind:
Greet Your Guests
Everyone from neighbors and friends to relatives and classmates – anyone who took time out of their busy schedule to attend your graduation party and take part in the celebration should be graciously greeted and thanked for coming. While it may not be possible to greet everyone when they first walk in the door, be sure to make the rounds during the party and spend a few minutes with each guest to make them feel welcome and appreciated. Above all, avoid sticking with one group throughout the party, i.e. your friends, which will end up giving the impression to other guests that they simply aren’t as important to you as your friends are.
Make Introductions When Needed
As the guest of honor at the party, you’re essentially the glue that binds everyone together. And, there are certain responsibilities that come with being the honoree. For example, when mingling you may come across situations where relatives come in contact with close friends or classmates, for instance, which will require you to make proper introductions. Your goal should be to help bridge connections among your guests so everyone feels comfortable and no one is left standing alone in the corner.
Focus on Giving Attention, Not Getting Attention
Of course, the party is all about you, your achievements, your graduation and your future, but it’s also important to balance out conversations by taking the focus off of yourself occasionally and asking your guests questions as well. Avoid having the dreaded “one-sided” conversation by asking your guests about what’s happening in their lives. Everyone will be eager to hear all about you and all of the wonderful college adventures that await you, but they’ll also appreciate (and be very impressed) if you show just as much interest in them and their lives.
Be “Present” in Every Conversation
Everyone who walks in the door will be vying for your attention. A couple of hours into the party you may begin to realize that being the center of attention can be downright draining. In fact, by the end of the party, you’ll probably feel as though you’ve been asked the same questions a thousand times. Regardless of how many times you’ve answered the same questions or how tired you are, it’s important that you remain cheerful, engaged and “present” in every conversation. After all, there’s nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who’s completely distracted by what’s happening around them or who appears bored. Be sure to act enthusiastic when talking with guests, smile, make eye contact and remember to graciously excuse yourself if you have to leave the conversation to greet another guest.
Just Be “You”
Sure, it’s important to do your best to make a great impression on your guests, but it’s equally as important to let your wonderful personality shine through on this exciting day! Don’t worry so darn much about being “perfect” that you end up appearing stiff or affected. Just try to be relaxed, casual and genuinely “you!”
Write a Handwritten Thank You Note
Famous etiquette expert Peggy Post said it best, “a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given.” To show your appreciation, send a handwritten note for every gift received within two weeks of receiving it. Make sure your note is specific and thoughtful. An example of a heartfelt thank you for a monetary gift would be:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Spencer,
Thank you so much for attending my graduation party and for your thoughtful gift. Your generosity will certainly come in handy when it’s time to outfit my dorm room. I’m so excited we had a chance to spend time together and I look forward to seeing you both when I return home for Thanksgiving break!
One thing to keep in mind: Regardless of whether someone gave a gift or not, it’s still proper etiquette to send them a short note to let them know how grateful you are that they took the time to attend your party. The note doesn’t have to be long-winded or fancy, just a simple note with a couple of sentences is adequate to show your gratitude.
In the midst of your efforts to be an awesome host or hostess and wow your guests with your manners, don’t forget to have fun! This is a special day in your life! It’s a chance to bid farewell to a wonderful chapter in your life while opening a new and exciting chapter filled with new friends, adventure, opportunities and so many new and wonderful experiences. Embrace your day as well as your family and friends who took part in your celebration and, above all, don’t forget to thank your parent(s) who put forth so much effort to throw you such an amazing graduation party!
"You gave me your time, the most thoughtful gift of all."