Celebrating Graduation in Lincoln, NE
Graduation, a major life milestone and crowning achievement, is a momentous occasion that signals the end of one’s journey in pursuit of a degree that will greatly impact the direction of that individual’s life moving forward. Along with the well-deserved festivities, it’s also a time for preparation to begin a new chapter, whether moving on to pursue a higher level of education or entering the workforce and embarking on your chosen career path.
Party Prep (The Main Event!)
The time has come to celebrate the accomplishments of high school and college graduates, with all of the ceremonies and parties to attend likely to dominate the weekend schedules for many of us very soon. For those on the hosting end, if you haven’t already begun preparations, you’d better get to it! Keeping in mind that many of the vendors for graduation parties cross over into weddings, with that season beginning full-force at the same time, it can present quite the challenge to get on the books with those you prefer. If you’re seeking inspiration, look no further – here are a few suggestions that can still be nailed down for the grad’s big day.
The Place: While hosting a party at someone’s home remains popular, there are also many who will opt to host their guests at another venue depending on the logistics and how they prefer to celebrate with everyone. “One of the major benefits of having your party at venue besides your home is the staff will do a lot of the work for you, like the cooking, cleaning, setting up and providing seating,” advises Michele Ehresman of Greenfield’s Café. “When planning a party there are many details to keep in mind, including when and where it should take place, the theme, what food to serve, and who to invite. If you decide to book a local venue, make sure you get quotes that include room rental, food costs, set-up, etc. and book early to avoid not getting the place you want.
At Greenfield’s, we offer a lot of options for party fare, which allows us to work within your budget. Depending on your invitation list, Greenfield’s offers a party room or weather permitting, our beautiful patio. For those who want to celebrate in their homes, Greenfield’s will deliver. When deciding on what food you’ll be serving, convenience is important. Food should be something fresh and fast they can eat sitting down, walking around, or something quick to grab as they move to the next graduate’s party. One idea to consider is hosting a brunch. Most graduation parties take place in the evenings, so why not change it up to make sure more of your invited guests are free to attend? Greenfield’s offers some of the best brunch fare in town.
The graduation party is the time in a person’s life to pause and commemorate the educational milestone he/she has achieved with a celebration. It also may be the last time for a long while that the graduates gather together with all of their friends and family in one place. There are plenty of ways to celebrate this achievement; just make sure you do it in a way that is right for you.”
For college graduation events, where the majority of attendees are of age to celebrate with adult beverages, venues with bar settings remain atop the list of popular places to host a graduation party. Similarly, but with the added bonus of the beautiful scenery, James Arthur Vineyards is a very nice choice. “Guests are able to enjoy the natural beauty of the estate along with our award-winning signature wines, and our facilities on-site offer a warm and relaxed atmosphere ideal for gatherings of all sizes,” says James Ballard of James Arthur Vineyards. “For the party fare, you could opt for a spread of hors d’oeuvres or a sit-down meal, or alternatively, we can set up tasting stations. This approach allows guests to travel from station to station where a wine has been paired with a specific appetizer. We also offer personalized wine bottle labels with the graduate’s photo or a custom design, which are a great special touch for graduation parties as well as the perfect keepsake item.”
The Food: Speaking of party fare, it’s an entertaining staple, no doubt. You can put together a great spread yourself, or alternatively, let the professionals handle it for you so that you too can join in on the celebration without having to worry about a thing!
Joe Armstrong of Cowboy Chicken offers the following advice: “When it comes to planning, preparing, and executing the ultimate graduation party, the majority of that effort tends to fall solely on Mom (no offense, dads). This can be a very overwhelming time for parents, and especially the mother of the graduate. Not only is there stress from seeing our children reach this first major accomplishment going into their adult lives, but there is a lot of work that goes into making sure the event itself goes off without a hitch. Cowboy Chicken to the rescue. Let us do all the heavy lifting for you. We can put together a great menu for your graduate and their partygoers that will rival any other party in town. Pulled pork has been a staple at many graduation parties in the past. Let us put a different spin on the food selection with our all-natural wood fire chicken, signature sour-cream-tomatillo enchiladas, and made-from-scratch sides. We will supply all the necessary items for your meal, deliver it to your home or specific venue, and set it up for you. No hassle, that’s a promise. If there is something specific you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to ask. With 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry now, I’m happy to help guide you through putting together the menu, and we can create something that’s customized specifically for your event. Just let us know how many people you have in mind, give us at least a week’s notice, and we can take this burden off your plate. Feel free to call me at (402) 420-0153 with any questions. Make this graduation time, a time to celebrate!”
If you’re thinking more along the lines of food that you’d find at a sports bar, or alternatively, if your graduate’s an avid hunter, Yowie’s Lodge would be the perfect fit. That being said, any of the fare that Yowie’s Lodge is able to provide for catering events is delicious, and there’s something for everyone, so it’s sure to be a big hit regardless. If you’re thinking about the options and don’t really have an idea of what you want yet, give them a try!
Finally, the ever-popular finger-food party staple that never gets old – gourmet sandwiches. They’re easy, SO fresh and tasty, and mess-free, meeting all of the necessary requirements for events where everyone is mingling. You really can’t go wrong with a party tray from Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop. Just provide a variety of options for guests to grab and go as they please, it’s as simple as that!
The Cake: Just like birthdays or weddings, there must be cake at a graduation party! That being said, just as we noted with the drinks, the trend with party desserts is to get creative. That also holds true with the variations of the graduation cake that have emerged as popular options. Nothing Bundt Cakes has options for those who are traditional or who want to get a little creative.
Sharon Hansen of Nothing Bundt Cakes shares, “Our most popular items used to celebrate graduations would be our 8” or 10” decorated cakes and our Bundtinis. Our larger cakes can be decorated with a custom graduation design that shows off school colors and our Bundtinis can be decorated especially for the occasion as well. The Bundtinis do work quite well; they are generally very easy to display as well as serve. We rent small Bundtini stands that will hold up to 3 dozen Bundtinis each, and are happy to provide delivery and set-up of your order if needed. Our featured flavor for April and May will be Strawberries & Cream, a great spring flavor made with whole strawberry fruit filling and creamy white chocolate, in addition to our standard nine flavors.”
She also advises, “While planning for a graduation celebration, timing is everything! We’re happy to accommodate small and large orders, and encourage you to place them as soon as possible, although we’ve been known to work some last-minute magic too. It is especially helpful in planning if you contact us in advance with any questions you have regarding flavor options, decorations, and pricing.”
Or, since temperatures are expected to be unseasonably warm this spring, if you want something fun but also refreshing, how about treating your guests to Italian ice or even custard? “Rita’s Italian Ice is a hit at parties and special events – the party doesn’t start until “Ice” walks in!” says Mike Malone of Rita’s Italian Ice. “We also recently introduced ‘hand-crafted custard’ in a variety of delicious flavors that would be perfect to go with any graduation cake. Ice, Custard, Happiness! It’s a simple, straightforward promise. And one we work hard to make good on. Every day. In every location. With every guest. Rita’s makes people happy and our signature Italian Ice or Custard is the perfect complement to any graduation celebration. There’s also our Frozen Custard Cakes and Custard Cookie Sandwiches if you are looking for something beyond traditional graduation treats.”
As far as logistics, Malone advises, “We offer full-service, drop-off, and pick-up catering options to meet your graduation party needs. Place your full-service catering order as soon as possible as time slots are limited. For drop-off or pick-up catering, call at least two days in advance.”
The Gift: This final item actually doesn’t have to do with planning on the part of the graduate, but rather, party prep on the part of the attendees.Of the many different options that would be fitting depending on the graduate, jewelry is an excellent option (isn’t it always?) that fits the bill because you’ll always remember this moment in time when you wear it. It will become a treasured part of that person’s memories surrounding the momentous occasion that’s graduation.
If you’re in search of something really special, there’s a good chance you’ll find it at Sartor Hamann Jewelers. A nice watch or an elegant necklace will not only have special meaning, but are also items that make excellent additions to a professional wardrobe. They have an incredible inventory of items available in-store, and if you need a little help, you can count on the guidance of a seasoned expert.
Alternatively, there are special finds throughout Lincoln at our local boutiques that would fall into the category of treasured graduation gifts. “A Brighton charm bracelet can be filled with memories and future plans, starting with a charm to commemorate this special moment,” says Cherie Travis of Rachel’s Boutique. “Or, put a gift card in a Brighton card holder, an essential for business professionals. Another one that I think would be perfect for this occasion is a necklace from our Blo Vintage line. They are really pretty vintage-style pieces, but with a built-in safety feature, because they’re actually functioning whistles! You can also provide words of encouragement and inspiration by way of bracelets from Good Works, and it’s a gift that gives back, as 25% of the net profits are donated to worthy causes.”
Pre-Grad Prep (Everything Else!)
Aside from all of the particulars of the celebration, and the planning that goes into it, there are plenty of other preparations as far as the culmination of high school or college on the whole.
Well before the excitement of a graduation party sets in, there are the much-anticipated senior portraits. A hallmark of one’s senior year, it holds special meaning presently and long into the future. Then, fast forward to graduation time, when these will be displayed prominently at events honoring commencement. “Right now, we’re offering Second Chance Senior sessions for those who will graduate this May,” says Gina Zabloudil of Zabloudil Photography. “We’ve found that providing one more opportunity to create portraits of the graduate is something to take advantage of in the spring. You may want to add more variation to your existing portfolio with a different combination of outfit and backdrop, or you may not have been absolutely in love with the first round of portraits, created by another photographer. Even over the course of the school year, seniors can change, so having a ‘before-and–after’ collection is a fun way to memorialize this transformation. This is also a fantastic opportunity to have a studio portrait created for designing custom graduation invitations. We’ll be scheduling fun and easy, 30-minute sessions for just $39 through the month of April. The client places their order immediately following the session, allowing us to deliver the finished portrait products in time to display at the graduation party!”
For high school juniors entering their senior year, the summer months are prime time to get senior photos taken. Zabloudil explains, “Once senior year starts, life tends to get very busy. Also, you’ll find the best specials are offered during the summer. There will be more freedom with scheduling, and you’ll be well ahead of the game. Prior to the scheduled Senior Portrait session, we’ll meet for a consultation. This is an opportunity to brainstorm, view samples to get inspiration, decide on a location(s), and go over all of the important details with respect to attire, hair, and makeup, etc. We have processes in place to help guide clients, because these decisions can be tough! Our goal is to ensure our clients are prepared, and to make a positive, memorable experience, and not be overwhelmed.
It’s never really too early to book your Senior Portrait Session. We’re offering an Early Bird Special for Class of 2018, who schedule through the end of May. You’ll get a double session for the price of the single session! We also offer a Senior Family Session, because having a child graduate high school is an excellent time to update your family portrait, especially if it’s your first or last child to graduate.”
Getting the right tools in place to support what’s to come in the next chapter is also something that requires forethought. Technology plays a major part in both our careers and personal lives today, and it pays to stay ahead of the curve. “As the last of my four children graduates from college in May, it’s a very exciting and proud time for my wife and I, as I’m sure it is for so many others here in our community,” says Kevin Knudson of QTEQ Computers. “The youth of today who are graduating have the power of technology behind them more than ever before. We are reaching a point where the smartphone can replace most of the other devices that were necessary in the past, even just a few years ago. Technology continues to change very quickly, and graduates who stay ahead of the curve have a distinct advantage. This includes kids who are entering high school, college, and the workforce. The more knowledgeable you are about technology, and the higher your proficiency with it, the better off you’ll be. Going back to phones, it’s a new world out there and it’s moving faster than ever.
One of the first decisions you need to make remains, for the most part, Apple or Android. However, with Google now selling phones the race is on. That being said, the cloud has changed everything, which means your device isn’t quite so critical, particularly in terms of storage. Most newer computers have excellent speed and graphics capabilities, and QTEQ Computers also has affordable options available to update older computers including Solid State Drives. Other factors to consider are size of screen and keyboards, internet processor and RAM. It’s all about the internet today, and the ability to access and use it from your phone is critical. As far as tablets and laptops, there are so many great options today at all different price points. For example, I just demoed a 14-inch Google Chromebook for $250 that was equal to a $1,200 laptop in performance a year earlier. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is a really nice option as well. You will need to spend a little time online researching the latest and greatest, because it’s changing monthly. Decide on your price point, then have fun learning about some of the features. Stop by QTEQ’s showroom and talk with our TEQnicians too; they are personally testing lots of devices and can offer insight that will help guide your decision.”
Congratulations Class of 2017 graduates! We honor you for your great accomplishments and wish you much success and prosperity in the years to come. It’s almost time to party, which we’re sure you’re all aware, so don’t waste any time getting down to business and planning the event of the season!