CONGRATS GRADS 2020
Yesterday my family, friends, and I experienced an important moment in our lives. We celebrated the graduation of my son Guillermo, who just finished high school. Following all the academic disappointments and hardships experienced due to Covid-19, the resilience showcased by him and his friends was deserving of an unforgettable night full of pleasant surprises, emotions and joy.
This is our family’s story, and the re-telling of the wonderful mini-graduation party celebrated at home for my son Guillermo and his 5 best friends: The Gang!
On mid-March 2020, like many others in Bangkok, Thailand, we decided to self-quarantine as a family due to the growing numbers of Covid cases and as a preventive response in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Our three children accepted and overcame this difficult situation with responsibility and maturity. We were lucky, as they were able to cope well with all the consequences. Firstly, we established the rules: Maintain a routine, stay healthy, do exercise, eat well, and remain positive. Then came the bad news for all the 2020 graduates, including our son Guillermo. The exams cancelled, the graduation events cancelled, the graduation trip and parties, all cancelled. Even the Europe Interrail, a tradition in Spanish schools, that was planned a year in advance for the summer all had to be cancelled. All the well-deserved excitement, hopes, and promises for the end of school disappeared in a blink. However, there were no complaints. Guillermo, 18 years old, nobly accepted all this, knowing that despite all, he had to feel grateful of his safety and fortunate situation in comparison to all the suffering we have seen around our family and friends infected by the virus or losing their jobs. Losing his summer plans were nothing compared to what was happening to the world, and Guillermo could understand and accept that.
However, luckily Covid cases started decreasing slowly but surely, and the Patana International school of Bangkok decided to make a restricted ceremony to honor the students who had placed immense efforts in their academics throughout their school years, and for their IB diploma. Finally we were ready to celebrate the Graduation, ready with our masks, and keeping a safe distance of 2m, with a restriction on the number of guests, no school orchestra, and no flowers… But still all dressed up in elegance for the special occasion; with the boys and dads in suits and the girls and mums wearing beautiful dresses, with an atmosphere that clearly reflected the importance of this unforgettable moment in their lives.
I believe that I should note that coming from Spain, graduation was never perceived as something so important, in Spain there is no celebration when children finish school, not even when they finish university, at least not in my generation. Therefore, I had no expectations for a “grand” graduation, although I reckon that for Guillermo, it was very important. When the moment of the celebration was approaching my enthusiasm and excitement began to grow, we could even start doing small celebrations with a restricted number of 20 people! After all the bad news and hard times during the virus pandemic, this was a very good new.
Starting to settle into life after Covid-19, one of the parents had the idea of hosting a small party for “The Gang”, whom at this point had lost all hope of celebrating their graduation. Of course, it was expected that they would ask me to host the party in my house, me being party creative. This unexpected and semi-spontaneous idea was both scary and exciting at the same time, I accepted the challenge of organizing the celebration only ten days before the event!
GRADUATION PARTY ORGANIZATION:
This is how I was able to prepare the party so quickly: The secret is to follow our “Perfect List,” which is designed to consider everything you need when preparing a party. Our Perfect list includes all the elements one should consider when organizing a party, and covers every possible stage of the party, from the invitation to the good-bye gift or the thank you card to wrap-up the event and leave a pleasant souvenir for the guests. In summary, our “Perfect List” includes:
- Invitations, Thank you Cards, tags and labels & other cards
- Table Decoration / Scenery Decoration
- Banquet (Party food)
- Entertainment (Games and Activities)
- Costumes & Props
- Party gift bag / Souvenir
1. Invitations, Thank you Cards, tags and labels & other cards
In this particular party the invitation was be a simple announcement through our WhatsApp group chat, through which all the parents and siblings of the graduates were invited. We ended up inviting exactly 20 people! Exactly the number of people allowed together in Bangkok at that stage after Covid-19.
For the rest of the decoration I chose a traditional Gold and Black theme. Due to the decor props I had available, I also decided to create a “Bohemian Chic” chill-out space on our backyard, along with the photo booth and a little surprise that I will be talking about later!
To continue with this section, I decided to use the Gold and black tags from our Happy New Year collection, which I decided to attach to the little souvenir gift, as I will explain on the Party Gifts section.
2. Table Decoration / Scenery Decoration
Disclaimer: We decided to keep certain things more simple, furthermore, we didn’t have enough time to complicate ourselves with too much decoration!😅
For the table decoration I chose a black fabric to make 3 table cloths; two for the side tables, one designated for the household (plates, glasses and cutlery), and one designated for the desserts.
For the main table - The Buffet table, I made a runner for the table with a rhomboid finish on both sides and a gold tassel stitched to the corners of the rhomboid finishes, inspired by the graduation hat and its tassel.
I left my husband in charge of the bar as this is his are of expertise, and he really enjoyed it! Here is how it turned out.
For the scenery decoration I bought 2 banners saying GRADUATION and CLASS of 2020 to put at both sides of the entrance, as well as a simple and cheap black carpet and two tiki torches to achieve a welcoming effect and atmosphere for the party.
Inside the house, I created a gold curtain behind the door. This simple and affordable decoration accessory marked the surprise effect marking the entrance to the party and celebration! Behind the golden curtains…
Right after opening the golden curtains the guests would find a banner saying CONGRATS GRADS, hung up along our Happy New Year gold and black bunting flags in a forefront, below 2 bar tables set with black table cloths and some decorative 3D mini graduation hats.
In a second plane - The Banquet: Two side tables with the household and desserts, and the buffet table with the simple but effective runner finished with a gold tassel, which was full of yummy food prepared by the parents of the recently graduated in order to honor the six best friends’ graduation. See our party food below.
Also included in the second plane, the guests would find the kitchen isle transformed into a bar by my lovely husband.
3. Banquet (Party food)
For the menu, we tried to organize something realistic and not too complicated so that the parents would be able to bring dishes according to their nationality, expertise or available time in their hands.
This was the completed selection:
- Francesca: Italian mum cooked fresh pasta and Italian roast with prosciutto and porcini mushrooms
- Anne: French mum prepared a cheese platter
- Fiona: English mum, brought two Salads
- Graeme: Australian dad, ordered the graduation cake
- Shanna: Restaurateur, brought from her Thai restaurant 2kg of brisket, 2kg of Mac salad , 2kg of tangy slaw, 3kg of potato salad and Cornbread
- Lucrecia (me): Spanish and Mexican mum, cooked Enchiladas, Guacamole, Vichyssoise, Hummus, and graduation cupcakes
All set! The party was ready to begin, there was no more needed to create a beautiful party, and the improvisation played its roll, creating an effective balanced party scenery! However, for a party one must always think ahead. We wanted to create more than a celebratory party, we wanted a magical, unforgettable moment, a great experience that would remain in our memories forever, a moment that would mark in our lives. For this, I had to come up with more ideas that would create such an experience. I came up with the idea of making a video collage of photos of the six recently graduated best friends. We created a white backdrop that would serve both as a photo booth background and a blank screen for the video projection. I also decided that I should include one of my specialities; A party gift!
So, for the entertainment we created a “Bohemian Chic” chill-out area on the backyard with a blank screen that would first act as photo booth, and then as a background for the video projection. For the set up I decided to ask my friend Silvia to lend me some carpets and cushions brought from her house in Kenya, and asked my other friend Yolanda to lend me some of her Thai lanterns. I decided to add on an unconventional touch to the Bohemian scenery by opening various car’s boots and arranging cushions inside for the guests to use as makeshift “cool” sofas. I also added plants, lanterns, carpets and the house garden set to finish create my take on a Bohemian Chic chill area.
I asked my son Guillermo to edit the video using the 10 photos that the parents of the graduates had sent me on through the WhatsApp group. He then decided to enhance the video by using other group photos and small videos from the many beautiful and unforgettable filmed memories of their school years. This video resulted in being the highlight of the night, the surprise to the parents and children was ‘legit’ and the environment was full of ‘oohhhs’ and ‘aahhs’ in an emotional and joyful way that I don’t believe to have experienced before, the love and happiness that filled the environment will stay in our hearts forever!
5. Costumes & Props
At a party, the costumes and props are indispensable, as we have explained in our previous posts in this blog, there is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about dressing up that transforms us into children again, therefore, in our opinion, this is an unforgettable touch to implement in a party.
For this party, we used our gold and black Happy New Year props, but we added two graduation hats to complete the graduation effect. I also bought gold metallic balloons with the numbers 2 0 2 0 , and added some gold stars on the back to frame the background for the photos. This was the result.
6. Party gift bag / Souvenir
With the invaluable help of my colleague and friend, Bell from Thai Printing Group, I prepared a mini-album for each of them as a party souvenir. The mini-album included a recent photo of each friend that they will cherish forever to remind them of these unforgettable times, and also to look back on in the future and remember all their hopes and dreams that are each engraved below their name. Then for the wrapping, to complete the effect, I used the gold and black tags from our Happy New Year collection with a little black tassel to add a cute touch. Here is how it came out.
It is not necessary to say how much the children loved this gift, who again filled the environment with ‘oohhhs’ and ‘aahhs’ of excitement a pure joy.
Thank you to all the people who helped make this unforgettable moment. Although as the party creative I did the organization and planning, the success of this celebration would not have been possible without all the love and care that was involved in all of the preparations: Francesca, who asked me to host this party and helped me with the overall coordination; Yolanda and Silvia for letting me borrow all the accessories I needed for the Bohemian Chic chill-out area; Sister Louise for helping me in having my table cloths and graduation table runner ready for the party; Savinna for letting me the plates and glasses from your restaurant Madame; The rest of the parents for the extra decoration and food; Bell from the Thai printing group for all the graphics and mini-albums; And finally, to my son Guillermo for the video.
I hope that our experience has inspire you to create beautiful memories like these for the celebrations to come.
Now it’s your turn!
Lucrecia Rodríguez from Acuña
Founder and Creative Director