With everything going on in our country and around the world, many events are being cancelled or postponed. While we understand parties may be a little different after the situation improves, it’s still important to host graduation parties and similar events at later dates to celebrate milestones and accomplishments. We need celebrations now more than ever to focus on the good things happening in our day-to-day lives. Whether you’ll be hosting just close family and friends or the entire graduating class, one of your first decisions should be the venue. Will it be a backyard tailgate featuring a corn hole competition, or will you rent out a venue to host more people and set a different atmosphere? More and more, we see graduates wanting to host joint graduation parties to cut the cost but elevate the experience—and with more graduates, there will be more guests.
If you’re hosting a backyard or home graduation party but don’t want to fuss about having to cook before or during the occasion, Raising Cane’s® may be the catering option for you.
“Nothing says graduation party like a Raising Cane’s tailgate!” said Jennifer Jones, co-owner of the Lincoln Raising Cane’s® Franchise. “Graduations are something to celebrate, and the best way to ensure you are spending your time in the moment and out of the kitchen is to partner with Raising Cane’s®. No matter the size of your graduation party, we have options that will work for you. Each tailgate comes with our signature Cane’s® sauce with the option to add on sides—lightly-buttered Texas Toast, creamy cole slaw, or jugs of our freshly-squeezed lemonade and brewed sweet or unsweet tea. Our mobile food truck ensures that even if you’re hosting a party with several other families and expecting hundreds of guests, we can still make sure everyone gets their chicken fingers hot and fresh,” she continued. “It’s equipped with a full kitchen and crewmembers so all food will be cooked on-site and as needed. Whether guests arrive during the first or last ten minutes of your party, they’ll have a great experience with great food. And when in doubt, giving your graduating senior a gift card from Raising Cane’s® is the perfect way to show just how proud of them you are.”
Another catering option to consider is ordering from any of the excellent restaurants with PILLAR Restaurant Group. From Venue Restaurant & Lounge to Cactus Modern Mexican & Cantina to Goodcents Delish Fresh Subs, PILLAR has something to suit any taste or style and any size gathering, and all of their options are fresh and delicious!
For a venue that feels like home but won’t wreck yours, we recommend the Rogers House Inn Bed and Breakfast. They can host up to 60 guests at one time on their main floor, which includes their living room, dining room, sun-room, and backyard. This is the perfect option for those who may not have the available space in their own home for such a large event or simply don’t want to worry about cleaning their own house on top of all the other tasks that come with planning a graduation. We spoke to Janel J. Faraci, founder and owner of the Rogers House Inn Bed and Breakfast, to learn more about the location.
“The Rogers House has been going through many renovations lately so that we can better host big events like graduation parties!” she shared. “The largest such renovation has been our kitchen. Our new professional-grade double kitchen has ample space for any size party you may be serving. You can even hire our professional chef! We’ve recently seen trends in graduation parties that favor small plates and light hors d’oeuvres. This is a great option for people favoring an open-house style party. If you’re planning your party on a popular day, such as the weekend before graduation, then it is safe to assume that your grad party will not be the only one most people are attending. Even though this is true, a lack of food can turn an event sour very quickly. This is why we recommend our hosts meet with our chef beforehand to work out logistics to ensure that everyone gets enough to eat.”
Rogers House Inn can host up to 60 people at one time. They also allow you to have outside catering/food and drink if you want to bring in food from your grad’s favorite restaurants. Set-up and tear-down options are available for a completely relaxed experience.
If you decide to go with a downtown venue, know that there are so many places in Lincoln that offer a unique hosting experience! One location we always recommend is the Talon Room. The Talon Room can accompany up to 300 people for cocktail and dance events. The building features distressed brick walls, exposed industrial ceilings, and a charming antique bar to give an element of rustic, urban charm to any event. Just a few blocks away from the Haymarket, the convenient location will make your grad party a perfect stop on any grad-party hopping trail.
Matthew Rogge, owner of the Talon Room, spoke on how he works with party planners to make sure the event goes smoothly.
“Our in-house event coordination and catering team can help plan the party from start to finish to make sure parents can actually enjoy this happy time,” he said. “Our team will ask plenty of questions about food, alcohol, decorations, and most importantly, budget. Graduation is a busy time of year for every business, so you need to have a set budget before starting the planning process to make sure you don’t go overboard. For example, weekend dates tend to be the most expensive with less availability, so make sure to plan accordingly.”
Matthew and all the staff at the Talon Room work extra hard to make graduation parties special. They can accommodate any budget and any size party from under 10 guests all the way up to 300 guests, with options for large or small spaces.
“We also have great small events catering and bar services,” Matt shared. “We’ll work with you in advance to craft a menu that’s perfectly suited to your tastes and preferences. Our bar services are top-notch, so you can have access to all your favorite drinks with the help of a professional bar tender and servers. A party with the Talon Room is a true party. We know how to make our guests feel comfortable.”
On the topic of venues in the Haymarket, it wouldn’t feel right not to mention the Graduate Lincoln. Not only is its name fitting, but since it is located near campus, it is an ideal destination for University of Nebraska grads to host their graduation party. With a name that encompasses their Husker pride, Graduate Lincoln’s Scarlet Ballroom is designed to host medium to large size groups. Boasting 3,000 square feet of space, this room can accommodate up to 210 people when full and can also be divided into smaller rooms to create a more intimate environment for groups of 90 or less. This isn’t the only event space the hotel has, though. There are many options just like the ballroom, each one offering the perfect balance of classy and casual that is a trademark for graduation parties. Booking a hotel as a venue is a good plan for those with a lot of out-of-state family that want to attend graduation!
Another arrangement you should think about making beforehand for relatives flying into town is to rent a car or SUV from Rent-A-Van. We asked Manager Dan Haden to tell us more about their service.
“Around graduation time, many people may be planning on using rideshare apps as the primary means of transportation for incoming relatives, but with the influx of people arriving in Lincoln, prices will spike per ride,” Dan said. “It will be cheaper and more reliable to simply rent a car or SUV that they can use for the entirety of their stay. We have all types of makes and models to fit your needs. We even have wheelchair-accessible vehicles if you should need one! As we understand that having one person drive the vehicle for the entire rental is not always possible, we don’t charge for additional drivers. You can also pick up vehicles the day before, if available, at no extra charge.”
Of course, ballroom and event space graduation parties are not for everyone. The most important aspect of a graduation party is making sure that it matches your graduate’s personality. As the friends and family of graduating students, we want to make this day special for them and everyone in attendance.
From unique decorations that celebrate the grad’s accomplishments to delicious graduation party food, there are tons of fun ways to make your party stand out. Your graduation party could even be hosted at a bowling alley! The atmosphere and engaging nature of this locale will provide something fun for everyone to do. Jennifer Davis-Korn with 48 Bowl, Inc. informed us that she often has family rent out their facilities for graduation and celebration events.
“If you’re planning a graduation party and want an activity that everyone can participate in that won’t get rained out, bowling is a great option,” Jennifer pointed out. “48 Bowl, Inc., which includes Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl, offers a variety of party packages and event spaces to cater to every event. Besides the lanes, we have event rooms that can be rent out to handle your displays and food and beverage service on-site. You can also rent either Parkway Pub or Legends Grill along with or separate from the lanes. We have rates for groups large and small and can work within your budget to provide your group what it needs to make the celebration a success. And when in doubt, a 48 Bowl gift card will be appreciated by stressed-out grads who want to have a little fun before they enter the ‘real world.’”
If a formal graduation party isn’t really your style, consider a night on the town in a fantastic bus from Tailored Dreams Party Buses! This is mostly directed at college grads because you may as well make one of your last nights being a college student count. Celebrate the transition to your next stage in life by spending a great night with all the people you were able to meet along the way.
Because party buses are a hot trend, they should be booked in advance. We talked to DeeDee Loomis, owner of Tailored Dreams, to learn more.
“Make your reservations as soon as you know a date,” she said. “Many people remember to book event halls and hotel rooms in advance, but they may not think about party buses until later in the game. There are a limited number of party buses in our area, and they go fast! We are already booking well into 2021.”
Party buses are an increasingly popular experience that combine transportation, great music, and a mobile party scene all in one. Tailored Dreams offers a custom, luxury party bus experience at economical prices.
“At Tailored Dreams, we have an unmatched experience,” DeeDee informed us. “Our fleet includes five decked out limousine-style party buses accommodating up to 45 people in our largest bus. Two of our buses are even handicap accessible—the only ones in the region! Our drivers are great and very courteous. They also know how to help you have a good time and turn up the music! Each bus has Bluetooth stereo systems that really thump, air conditioning to keep your party cool, and colorful LED lights for an ultimate clubbing experience.”
Graduating is all about preparing for what’s next, and part of that preparation is knowing how to dress to impress in the next stage of your life. Gary Novotny with Gary Michaels Clothiers has made a career of helping young men learn just that. From preparing interview outfits to wedding suits, he knows exactly what to wear, down to the socks. We asked him about what trends he expects to see for our upcoming graduating men.
“Over the past ten years, we have seen a great deal of graduates dressing up a little more than before,” Gary shared. “For both the ceremony and graduation parties, young men have been choosing a nice pair of casual slacks and a sport shirt instead of casual alternatives. There has been an increase of sport coats, dress shirts, and even neckwear seen at the commencement and graduation ceremonies. Graduates should keep in mind that this is a life time event and the photos taken will be looked at quite frequently, so dress up accordingly. I have found that the college graduate has more concern about his attire than one graduating from high school. In those extra four years, they seem to have figured out and realized that job interviews are upon them and they need a suit. This is a way to ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ so to speak. That is also the case for a high school graduate who plans to enter a fraternity. They will need a suit for Monday night dinners. They purchase a suit early and also wear it for the graduation. We call this cost effective purchasing, buying for multiple events.”
The same can be said for graduating women. While it may have been customary to wear a simple sun dress to high school graduations in the past, young women today are going for a more professional look under their robes. Even more so with university grads, young women want to reflect the start of their professional career in their graduation attire. Similar to young men’s attire choices, these professional clothes come in handy for job interviews, work life, and Monday night meetings.
Looking the part isn’t enough without also acting the part. We talked to Kris Peterson with Leadership Harbor about great gifts for grads of any age that are perfectly suited for aligning new grads with a clear vision of the future and helping them live and be their very best.
“We have some incredible grad gift ideas for any grad,” she shared. “Gift Certificates for a Leadership Harbor mastermind group are excellent for helping graduates connect with successful individuals who can mentor them and offer them ideas and encouragement. A gift certificate for our Transitions workshop is also an excellent option for discovering your purpose and a greater awareness of who you are. The focus can be on career planning, career transition, life shifts (intentional or unintentional), or preparing for what to do in retirement. Another excellent gift opportunity we provide is the purchase of a great book on leadership and the opportunity to study it with 8 to10 other folks over a period of six weeks in one-hour sessions,” she said. “Each of these gifts can equip graduates with the tools and confidence they need to harness their education and live the life they’ve always dreamed of. We also offer one-on-one coaching sessions that can help you plan how you will live into your dream, grow yourself or your team, unlock communication, or get ‘unstuck’—and some packages even come with a College/Career Impact Report as a free added bonus! Our programs and services can help you change your mindset when you’re feeling stuck, develop yourself as a leader, and learn to live significantly and unlock your potential!”
Though life sometimes throws us unimaginable obstacles, it is still important to make an effort to celebrate our accomplishments and host the normal milestone events, even if they are postponed. When it’s safe to celebrate, your local Lincoln experts will be here to help you make the occasion unforgettable!