Keep it simple when celebrating the high school graduate.

Over the years I have catered many high school graduation parties in our community. It is not uncommon for families to host 2-3 hour open houses including students, parents, teachers, church members, work colleagues and other associates. The average graduation party includes 150-200 guests and involves lots of food. What happened to the days of going home after the graduation ceremony and having cake and ice cream with your immediate family?

Menu selections I have prepared for past graduation parties include grilled hamburger sliders, vegetable trays, pinwheels, guacamole and tortilla chips, seasonal fruit trays, antipasta platters, shrimp cocktail, breakfast casseroles, sub sandwiches, brisket, potato salad, a chocolate fountain and mini desserts. The list goes on and on!

There were some parties I catered that cost more than the average wedding reception. It left me wondering if the celebration was truly about the graduate or was it about throwing the most extravagant party?

While I appreciate the efforts of parents to recognize their high school graduates, I also encourage them to keep it simple. The money they spend on food for the multitudes could easily be applied to the first semester of college books or gas money. We parents have the duty to teach our children financial responsibility. Is spending thousands of dollars on a graduation party being financially responsible?

In four years I will have my first test when my son graduates from high school. Will I be financially responsible? Or will I join the ranks of competitive party planning?