Friday, March 9, 2018

Ordering a Diploma and planning an Open House for your Graduate

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Back in January we talked about getting ready for graduation. If your high school student is going to be graduating in May or June of this year and you have not yet ordered their graduation announcements, I would encourage you to pop on over and re-read our post about choosing announcements and how to make your list. If you have made your list and ordered those announcements, now is a great time to make sure you have everyone’s current addresses to mail then to.

Now, while you still have plenty of time to think about it, you should sit down together with your graduate and decide on a style of diploma to order. I know May seems a long ways away, but you’ll feel better if you order that diploma in March or April than if you wait until the first week of May when the weather is nice and the only reason anyone wants to come inside is to grab the meat to grill for dinner. Even though there is a rush order option for diplomas, it is easier to plan ahead and save those extra dollars for chocolate for the party! 

So how do you decide which style of diploma to order? You take a look around the website and look at the different  styles . There are three options to choose from, each with personalization available. You can choose the Standard Diploma, the Personalized Diploma, or the Gilded Diploma. Each of these are excellent choices, and you’ll want to ask your soon-to-be graduate if they have a preference. You can choose either the 8.5 x 11” size or the 6 x 8” size. Our preference is the Personalized Diploma, as it gives you a lot of options to reflect the uniqueness of your homeschool and your graduate’s personality. A little hint: you have more diploma cover options if you go for the 8.5 x 11” size. If you’re really wanting to go for the gold - get the Gilded Diploma and enjoy the 23 karat gold illumination on the seal and school name.

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves why our graduates need a diploma. 

Graduation is a milestone in their transition from childhood to adulthood. It is a recognition of the completion of a daunting task - high school. A diploma is also a keepsake. Don’t shortchange your graduate or yourself by ignoring this step towards their independence. While you can choose it all yourself, as the parent-educator, I think selecting your graduate's diploma together is another opportunity to tie heart strings with your child. Value their opinion, work together to create something you will both enjoy having them receive. 

You are going to find a lot of options on the Personalized Diploma, from wording options and multiple type faces to the chance to include a favorite verse or motto. You’re also going to be able to select paper, signature lines, and the graduation date. If your graduate is going to be part of a large group graduation, then you already know those particulars and can input the exact date. But if you are unsure as to the actual date of your actual graduation ceremony / open house, you could choose to put the month and year without the day. We did that with our older daughter since we knew she would graduate in December, but hadn’t yet chosen the day for her open house. Obviously we decided that before we ordered her graduation announcements, but why stress yourself out over the date if you don’t have to? Also, some people prefer the simplicity of the month/year date line.

I like that there are nine options to choose from on the diploma seals with the Personalized Diploma, so however you organized your child’s private education, there is an option for you. There is also one option that simply has the year embossed on the seal. The quality of the printing on these diplomas is superb, and when they arrive there are instructions about how to sign them (with no smudges!)

If you have visited the website before, what used to be called the Exclusive High School Diploma is now named the Personalized Diploma. Way easier to remember in my book, and still just as great of quality. also offers caps and gown for purchase, and if you are ordering a diploma from them, there is a discounted package to get your diploma, cap and gown all at once. :)

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Ceremonies and Open Houses

Once you’ve ordered the announcements and the diploma for your graduate, it is time to get serious about what you want their ceremony and/or open house to look like. 
One of our friends’ sons did not want a party at all. His parents knew it was important to commemorate the day so they marked his graduation with a huge family dinner out at his favorite restaurant. A few years ago one of our girls’ good friends graduated and wanted a small ceremony with a larger open house. Her parents ordered announcements that stated her graduation and when the open house would be, then they personally invited each member of their daughter’s inner circle of friends and their family members to attend the ceremony, which they held in the same location as the open house, but an hour and a half before the open house began. 

For our older daughter Emily we were on a tight budget. So we opted for an afternoon open house with finger foods. Her younger sister baked dozens and dozens of cookies the two weeks leading up to the graduation date and we stuck then in the freezer until the night before the party. Emily didn’t want a big ceremony, so we did the presentation of her diploma ahead of time as a family, and then she displayed it on the card and gift table at her open house. We held her open house in the fellowship hall of our church. Plenty of tables and chairs, and bathrooms close by. :)

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Our younger daughter is still unsure as to what she wants for her graduation event. Since she will not be graduating until the end of this calendar year we still have plenty of time to talk over her options. I know we will be doing something memorable.

If you are working towards a May or June graduation for this year, may I make a few suggestions? Start early, plan ahead, and stay relaxed as the day approaches. If you are not going to be part of a large group ceremony, then you have the option to set your own graduation ceremony date. If you want the most people possible from your group of family and friends to be able to attend, then think about the schedules of others as wells your own. I would suggest avoiding Memorial Day weekend, unless that is the only time your family has available to make the trip from out of state. You might also want to check the graduation dates of the private and public schools near your home. If they are all graduating the first weekend in June, then know that many of your church and neighborhood friends will be invited to many open houses. Could you hold your ceremony or open house either two weeks before or a week or two after the local school graduation date? There have been many times over the years that we have been unable to attend all of the open houses we were invited to because of the vast number of them all held on the same date. 

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

In our local community is has become popular for graduating best friends to share an open house. Two graduates, two sets of family, and a lot of friends. None of whom now have to choose attending one event over the other, or leaving early. 

Or of you are wanting to offer a more sit-down and linger style of open house, choose foods that are easy to prepare ahead of time, and that keep well. We have been to many memorable open houses where a little bit of pre-planning allowed the parents to keep enjoying themselves while still serving the needs of the graduate and their guests. Moms - if your best friend offers to help you - say yes! We have dined at a baked potato bar, feasted at a taco bar, and eaten croissant finger foods until the sun sets. If you’re planning a meal, then plan foods that do well in the crockpot (like tacos) or that you can prepare the morning before (like baked potatoes.) Options for sub-style sandwiches are also easy to keep replenished without a lot of work during the party. 

Several years ago there were three best friends we knew who all graduated together. They planned their open houses to be one right after the other on the same day. The parents planned the afternoon events together, and it worked really well. The first open house had finger foods: veggies and cheese and crackers, the second open house had graduation cake, and the third house had dinner. The third house was the family with the biggest backyard and the graduates and their friends all disappeared outside to play volleyball and frisbee while the older friends and family members sat inside and chatted.

Whichever option works best for your family, make sure you make your graduate’s day special! For Emily’s open house we had a table with a blank white picture mat that guests signed instead of a guestbook. We also had a box covered in wrapping paper for cards to be placed in. Next to it we provided index cards and pens and asked those who attended to write a favorite Bible verse or quote for Emily and drop it in the cards box.

Not everyone will be able to attend your graduation event, and that is to be expected. That is just the way life is. However, if you plan ahead, send announcements in a timely manner (about 3-4 weeks before the event) and show your graduate how happy you are with all they have accomplished, there will be many, many opportunities to take pictures of smiling faces at the open house. Make memories that will last a lifetime, and choose a diploma that your graduate will one day take out and show to their own children!

Are you in charge of marshaling the troops for a co-op or private school graduation ceremony? has you covered as well with discounts on group orders, caps and gowns, and a variety of senior year gifts.

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Disclaimer: I will receive a free product in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own, a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

1 comment:

  1. excellent advice. I haven't even given it a thought at this point... but I'll keep it in mind.