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S/O my grad topic- how to make graduation dinner simple but special

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So, we decided not to fly in grandparents and have a rented room and mini ceremony. Mostly because of the stress and family drama.  None of the grandparents would get quality time, even after flying across the entire country, and we would be completely stressed hosting three or four sets of grandparents at the same time. 

So we are going to just invite local friends and family and go out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant that has a nice ambiance and very large rooms.  They always have plenty of space.  Even though we are keeping it more low key (no projector with slides, no speech, no out of towners), I'd like to make it special

So far I have:

1.  A beautiful embossed Diploma with cover 

2. A few graduation gifts to be presented with Diploma- Nice keychain and Class of 19 Tee Shirt

3.  Some little cap with tassel candy boxes to place at each place at the table as party favors 

Need Help:


I'd like to do a few simple games while people are waiting on their meals, as well as while we are eating- like guessing games that can be passed around.  it can keep people busy and get conversation focused on the graduate.   Need ideas for this....we would need 3-4 games.

Unfortunately a cake is a challenge with him being gluten free- I could maybe do hme made cupcakes with a little 19 or a little graduate on top?

Any other ideas?  Remember we won't have our own rented room, just reservations and will give a big tip so the waiter doesn't mind us hanging out longer.  But we can't get up and down, or make long speeches or anything of that sort.


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This sounds similar to what we're going to end up doing.  I'm starting to think about what we're doing for graduation, too.  

I would probably call the restaurant and make sure they're ok with bringing in outside food (the cupcakes).

No game ideas here.  I'm an INTJ, so I'm just not very good at that stuff.

I plan to do a picture book or a scrapbook as a gift for dd.  A book filled with pictures of her and family/friends over the years.  

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I would probably bring photos to pass around as opposed to games. I'm not sure what you mean by guessing games, but I think being expected to stop conversation and eating to play games would be more annoying than fun. I don't think people need to be kept busy in a restaurant, they will be socializing. Blank cards and pens if anyone wants to write him a message (advice or best wishes). 

Call the restaurant and ask them for the least crowded days and time. Around here, restaurants don't start getting crowded until at least 6 and more like 6.30 and they usually put large groups in a more empty area. If you go early, you could probably easily stand up and just briefly thank everyone for coming and give ds his diploma, so keep that in mind. 

You have the candy boxes, so I'd not bother with cupcakes (and I think a whole tray of cupcakes is not going to fly with the restaurant anyway). If you explain the g/f, the restaurant may either be able to make something for him or would be fine with you brining one in just for ds. I'd be surprised if they don't have something g/f on the dessert menu already, it doesn't have to be cake. They could present it to ds with congratulations just as they do for birthdays and anniversaries. 

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Print out pictures of your son from his life.  Put them in a book and number them.  Create a sheet of paper with the numbers listed.  People have to guess the age of your son in each picture.  They’ll put the age next to the number of the picture.  

At the party, you give everyone a copy of the paper with numbers and you pass around the book for everyone to have a turn looking at the pictures and guessing his age.  Collect the papers and see who was right about his ages. 

(The hard part is knowing the ages in the pictures for yourself!)

Edited by Garga
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I have to confess: I'm in the same camp as Evanthe and katilac -- forced to play games at a restaurant when you are not in a reserved room sounds painful to introverts like myself. (:D

I do like Garga's idea -- I just wouldn't do the formal gathering of the answers and announcing winners (again, speaking as the introvert in a restaurant and not in a reserved room, but there are also diners who are not with your group). Instead, I'd probably informally hand around sheets with the answers after they've had time to guess -- hand the stack of answers to the person beside me, and say: "Here are the answers; pass it down."

Rather than games, what about printing out a nice several-page "booklet" (8.5"x11" folded in half) for people to read/look at before the meal arrives? It could contain photos of DS at different ages doing different activities or projects, and have a short paragraph of info about the activity/project, and trace his homeschooling career through the years, and the last page could focus on where he's headed after graduation. Two pieces of 8.5"x11" paper folded would yield a total of 8 "pages", 3 folded pieces of paper yields 12 "pages" -- and either 2 or 3 folded pieces of paper doesn't need to be stapled (just folded and nested together). It would be like the guests getting a program if they were at a formal graduation ceremony, but here it would be especially for your DS. And it would be something you could send to each of the out-of-town family and friends that would make them feel more a part of things.

Edited by Lori D.
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