I learned a thing or two throwing Abby’s minimalist, zero waste grad party, which probably explains why I asked Johanna if, for her future party, she’d like to just invite a few friends and we’d take everyone out to dinner.
She said no. She’s already planning her menu.
Here’s the thing: The day was actually quite gorgeous, the people came, we did not run out of dishes, silverware or glasses, Mount Hood peeked out finally so we could prove we really do have a mountain view, it was hot but lovely in the shade of our oak trees, and we had way, way too much food.
I’d be a terrible caterer, Eric lamented as he looked at the trays and trays of ham and cheese he’d cut, and the dozens of rolls leftover after the party. Not knowing how much food we’d need, this Eagle Scout went big. I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing — he and the girls now have lunch stuff that will last through the rest of the summer. 😉
What went right: I owe a big coffee and probably my life to my mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who let me borrow all manner of items — trays, table cloths, silverware, cloth napkins, silverware holders, pitchers, a large drink dispenser, tables, chairs … it was awesome. I also owe a big thank you to our church — our priest and secretary let us take whatever we wanted from the kitchen for free, although when I balked at that they said we could make a donation if we wanted. (Uh, yeah, I think that’s in order.) We borrowed a huge stack of dinner and salad plates, and since those suckers have been in rotation at the church for absolute decades and are made of indestructible, nuclear materials, I didn’t worry about breaking any.
And then our friend Beth came through in a big way with lawn games — bocce ball, garden golf, cornhole and timber toss (she’s like lawn game central over there). Our neighbors lent us their croquet set … and my other sister-in-law dug her set out of the attic too. (Pro tip: Putting out a frantic request on Facebook for lawn games works!) Eric also pumped up every basketball he could find in the garage (turns out we have three, who knew?) and set those out by the hoop. The teenagers in particular had fun with these things, although we had a couple brave adults out there too.
My mother commented later that the party was so nice in part because we had real tableware. And Abby was right — lawn games give everyone something to do.
What went wrong: We had no idea how many people to expect and overbought food. Not the end of the world. I had planned to take photographs of everything so A) I could remember what we did for Johanna’s future party and 2) I could add photos to Abby’s senior scrapbook (which I’m making online because real scrapbooking is a pain). I ended up not touching the camera at all, but thankfully Eric took a few crowd shots. Oops.
What we didn’t expect: I was truly touched, and Abby was too, by some of the people who traveled significant distances to come celebrate with us. That was just cool. And it was kind of hilarious how people kept to the open house hours we’d set — I expected stragglers, but everyone stuck closely to the schedule.
Other thoughts and feelings: My mother made a framed collage of Abby through the years for her card table, and Dad mentioned as they were leaving that she’d used the back of a poster that served a similar purpose for my grandparents’ 70th anniversary party a few years ago — that made me incredibly happy.
My mother had worried that we’d be doing dishes for years afterwards because of the reusables, but it wasn’t so bad. I had an empty dishwasher at the start of the party and just ran loads as it filled up, and by the end of the day I had most of the mess licked. My mother-in-law also hand washed a bunch of stuff, which was extremely helpful in getting everyone’s items back as they left.
Eric and I didn’t find the party particularly relaxing — we had too many responsibilities, plus for some reason everyone wanted to talk to us 😉 — but we were really happy with how it went. It was just a really nice day, and Abby was so happy, which was the entire point. She thanked us multiple times, before and after. She’s a good kid, I tell you what.
… I think that covers it, but if you have particular questions about this whole ordeal, I will gladly answer. I feel like the hardest parts of Abby’s graduation are over now, and we can just cruise along and enjoy summer until the end of August, when she heads off to college and we navigate this new stage.