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The green-eyed event planner - Upright and smiling

Any time you are planning an event with a lot of emotiontied to it, there is going to be stress. Graduationis one of those events in life.

Any time you are planning an event with a lot of emotiontied to it, there is going to be stress. Graduationis one of those events in life. As a graduate you are stressedabout what to wear, your date, the transportation choicefor the "red carpet" entrance, your corsage or boutonnière,your hair, etc. As the parent (who is usually the party planner),you are stressed about wanting to create a nice dayfor your graduate, coupled with the fact that he/she is "allgrown up" and that makes you a little wistful for the diaperdays.. Tears are to be expected.

When I trained for my first marathon, I told everyonethat my goal was to finish "upright and smiling". So, for allof you parents planning graduation festivities for your children,let's give you some tips so that you can finish "uprightand smiling".

Make a notea "thank you" note: Think about howyou are going to say thank you before you say thank you.Encourage the graduate to create a thank you card perhapsusing a personal photo scanned into the home computer.Ensure that these thank you notes are completed and deliveredin the days immediately following graduation.

Accept help when offered: When your friend or neighbouroffers to lend a hand, accept it graciously. When mychildren graduated, my friend Sue spent hours preparingmeat trays and cutting up vegetables. She also did my dishes,which was no small feat!

Hire a housekeeper: If you can afford it, hire a housekeeperwho can come clean a couple of days before theparty. You won't regret it!

Make up the bed in the RV: The RV can become anadditional bedroom when entertaining out of town guests.Don't forget to ensure that the heater is working as theevening may get chilly and you don't want your guests shiveringall night. Another nice touch is to have a small coffeemaker in the trailer all ready to go so that in the morningthey can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee before cominginside.

Plan ahead: Make sure that you have enough chairs,dishes, glasses, etc. for everyone who is attending. If youdon't have enough or are "close", borrow from friends.Have them bring the item(s) over the day before so you arenot scrambling at the last minute.

Stay Cool: You WILL run out of room in the refrigerator.Borrow coolers ahead of time, they will become temporaryrefrigeration.

Prep ahead: Plan your menu so that you aren't stuck inthe kitchen the whole time. Create a menu where someitems can be prepared in the days leading up to the eventand then frozen. The food can then be reheated in slowcookerswhich double as serving dishes.

Don't forget the ice! Purchase it ahead of time. If it is anice weekend, you will go through lots of ice just for thebeverages and no one is going to have time to keep refillingice trays. Ice is also needed to keep dishes like potato saladat the correct temperature. Here is a trick for you. Find aclean, plastic storage tub "lid" that is at least 3 inchesdeep. The lid now goes onto your table and you fill it withice, becoming a "cooling" tray for your shrimp, salads, etc.Just nestle the bowls in the ice!

Bring the inside outside! If you are entertaining on thedeck, don't be shy about bringing some non-traditionalitems outside to create a cozy atmosphere. Table lamps lookspectacular outside!

Create opportunities: Friends and family are going tocome to the event to see the graduate in his/her finery andto wish them well. Make sure that you have created thisopportunity. Set up an old fashioned "photo booth" so thateveryone can get a photo of the graduate. A simple backdrop,seating and voila! Photo booth a la grad 2010.

Comfortable yet chic: This isn't the time to break innew shoes., dress comfortably but at the same time,dress to impress. Remember, you will be in many of thephotos too!

Drink with care: As much as you would love to relaxwith a large glass of wine, remember you are on speed dialfor your graduate. They need to be able to call you for aride if necessary and drinking and driving is a no-no.

Judy Kucharuk is a Certified Special Event Planner andowner of Footprint Management Systems Inc. Judy specializesin Green Meetings and Events. For more