Out-of-state graduation

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Out-of-state graduation
11
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 10:04am

For those of you who have older kids, I'm curious how you handled long-distance graduations. Dd20 is graduating in May and most of our close family (grandparents, siblings, etc) are coming to the graduation itself. We have never done big parties, but for the HS graduations and older dd's graduation, we had a small get-together the day of the graduation at our house. For dd20, we're not planning on having anything at home because we'll be "celebrating" with her for two days at her school. She also won't have much time between graduation and the TFA training and institute, and our younger kids have a lot of events in May.  I'm not really sure what to do, how much to "entertain." We are all staying about 20 minutes off campus in the same hotel and at the least, three sets of grandparents (including my ex-inlaws) will be staying Fri and Sat night. Graduation is at 3pm Saturday. Dd has her last final on Friday, but there will also be some departmental ceremonies and baccalaureate on Friday. I've already been warned that finding restaurant reservations is impossible (and dd's apt is tiny). Should I try to find places to eat for Friday and Saturday? Should we all stay together?  Should I plan any activity? Are we responsible for paying for everyone the entire weekend? Once the holidays ended, I started thinking of graduation and now it's beginning to stress me out. Dd is already worried, and afraid that bringing in all the different grandparents (and a few aunts and uncles from various sides) may be awkward and that the out-of-state grandparents (only dh's mom sees the kids with any regularity, due to distance) may be hurt if she doesn't spend a lot of time with them. I am really excited and happy that dd is graduating and I know I shouldn't let everything else get to me, but of course, it's hard not to worry. I don't want family dynamics stressing dd on her big weekend.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 10:56am

I think that it would be nice if you could all have dinner together in a restaurant on Sat. night--what happens if you can't find reservations?  Will the older people be able to wait around if they have to?  Do you have enough people that you could reserve a private room?  Do you already have your hotel reservations?  I'd say if you are staying in a major hotel like a Hilton or Marriott you could suggest it to people but let them make up their own minds.  I would think that it would be nice to pay for one dinner but not for the whole weekend and I don't think it's necessary to set up activities as it sounds like you are going to be kind of busy.

When my DD graduated, it was 2 hours from where we live--I had thought about staying over anyway but then they changed the plan from having everything in one day to having the big ceremony for everyone at 4:00 on Friday and then the individual schools handing out diplomas to different times on Sat. (DD's was at 12:00 I think).  Now she went to a state university so there were about 5,000 people graduating but ironically it's also in a very small town that doesn't have a lot of hotel rooms--even though I called a couple of months in advance, we ended up staying in the biggest nearby city which is about 20 mins. away.  It was really only me, DS, her dad, SM and then her best friend & friend's BF--we all went out to dinner Fri. night w/ DD's BF too.  Then Sat after her ceremony there was a lunch at her sorority house for all the families--but people were coming at diff. times due to the diff. times of the diploma ceremonies.  We ended up leaving right after that, taking some of DD's stuff home--but of course she stayed that night for the last party.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 12:03am

We are also in the big10 University, small-town dilemma. We are actually staying at a state park nearby (in the lodge hotel, lol, definitely not camping!) because it was impossible to get rooms that weren't WAY overpriced ($300-$500 a night, two-night minimum, for the worst hotels). We did look for hotels starting in May of last year!I was leaning towards dinner on Saturday, so I'm glad you thought paying for one dinner for everyone was appropriate. I hadn't thought of a private room - I'll look into that. We will likely have 15 or more, so that might work. If we can't get reservations I assume we're just stuck either waiting a really long time or eating whatever dd has left in her fridge (I'm guessing not much at that point!). I wonder if dd will want to stay for a few last parties too??  At least the weather will be nice so I hope everyone can walk around outside a bit and enjoy the campus and the downtown area.

 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 1:11am

We didn't have as many people from out of town for ds' graduation, but there were some of the same challenges of a large school in a small town, and trying to fit in all of those families.

We got to the college town on a Sat afternoon, grad was on Sunday late morning. We drove to the next town over for dinner that night, from a food truck known for good eats. So that was a very casual meal and not expensive. Sunday after the grad ceremony we went to a supermarket with a good deli counter and ordered sandwiches to go; while they were being made we gathered drinks, chips, fruit, etc from around the store. We were able to go to ds' house to eat but you could go to a park if the weather is nice, and call it a picnic. We were able to get a reservation for 5pm for dinner that night....it probably helped that some families had already left town by then.

I think that paying for one dinner for everybody is sufficient. Could you squeeze everybody into dd's apt? Might one of the lodgings have a room/space of some sort that you could use? You might be able to find a restaurant that could prepare a large meal in trays that you could take out. The important thing is to have everybody together to celebrate your dd and her accomplishment, whether you're at a nice restaurant or eating off of paper plates.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 10:53am

Do you know what would make your dd comfortable? (I wasn't the type to want family parties at that age but that's just me; I know ds would not be thrilled for much either)  I'd go that route using her comfort level.  When might she be home/near more relatives again? Maybe plan something big then vs. that weekend as she'd be saying goodbye to friends, going to parties, etc. I like the idea of the dinner.  Just my thoughts.

Sue

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 2:55pm

 

elc11 wrote:
<p> Sunday after the grad ceremony we went to a supermarket with a good deli counter and ordered sandwiches to go; while they were being made we gathered drinks, chips, fruit, etc from around the store. We were able to go to ds' house to eat but you could go to a park if the weather is nice, and call it a picnic. </p>

I have to admit I never thought of that-okay, I'm not very outdoorsy-but actually, two of the sets of grandparents are (still sleeping in tents at their ages!). This might be a great idea. There are lots of little cafes and such that might prepare a picnic meal and we are staying in a state park after all. I'm sure there are picnic areas, etc.

At least I'm starting to feel like there are back up plans, which is reducing some of the stress!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 3:03pm

suzyk2118 wrote:
Do you know what would make your dd comfortable?

When might she be home/near more relatives again? Maybe plan something big then vs. that weekend as she'd be saying goodbye to friends, going to parties, etc..

None of us are big party types (I'm still hearing how horrible it was that I didn't throw dh a big party for his 50th... never mind that he would absolutely hate that!) but dd is very conscientous and I think she'll feel better if we are all together at least after the ceremony and she doesn't have to worry about whom to choose for lack of a better word. I actually do feel relatively confident that she wants to be with us- she's very, very close to her immediate family.

It would be hard to get the relatives together again because many are converging on her graduation from different states. They absolutely want to see the actual ceremony, but it's a haul for some of them (my dad and his wife are driving 13 or 14 hours each way). I feel like I can't ask them to come back on another weekend and dd's schedule is very, very tight. I assume no one will see her when she is training in Tulsa because that's really off the beaten path for our family!  This isn't ideal, but it's kind of what we're stuck with.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 8:06pm

Makes sense - kinda cool, really, that they're all making the trip.  I like the options you've been getting - great ideas!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Sat, 01-19-2013 - 10:52am

As others have suggested, I would try to plan a single dinner for dd, probably on Saturday night.  I'd also ask her what she thinks would work best for her and what she would most enjoy.  My oldest girl's departmental reception offered a light dinner with champagne, very informal.  Perhaps that will be enough for Friday night? 

How impressive that 3 sets of grandparents AND aunts and uncles will all travel to this graduation!   Our middle dd is graduating from college this year as well and I don't think we'll have a single grandparent there.   My nephew is graduating from a different university in a city about 6 hours north on the same day as dd so my sister and her family won't be there either.  You and she are blessed that they are able to make the trip and want to do so.  I'd suggest that you and she send some warm emails in advance to those who are coming thanking them for their caring, telling them how much it means to you that they are making the effort to be at this event, and even apologizing in advance for being pulled in many directions, stressing that they mean a lot and how touched you are by their presence.  It's also a good way to provide the details for the receptions and dinner and/or offer suggestions for sightseeing (?) in the area for times that aren't family times.

We are trying to make arrangements here as well.  My dd attends a small liberal arts college that has a lot of traditions, one of which involves so called "garden parties" after graduation.  Essentially the garden party is a decorated table on the college lawn set up by friends who aren't graduating this year, offering simple drinks and food for guests of the graduating senior.  My dd has done this for friends in the past and has had a blast doing it.  Dinner that night is expected to include all the people--underclass friends who plan and set up the party--at the afternoon garden party.  Since dd and her good friend have elected to have a joint garden party, that means a huge crowd that night.  DH and I have nagged dd and her friend about choosing the place they want for dinner and making reservations but the two girls have refused to commit.  We have to leave bright and early the next morning because youngest dd will be smack in the middle of finals and events at high school and needs to be back.  I expect it will be a very rushed weekend and that we will be in trouble finding a restaurant anywhere near the school.  At least we thought a bit ahead and made plane and hotel reservations well in advance.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2004
Sun, 01-20-2013 - 11:47am
Subway (at least the ones by me) do platters of sandwiches. They are $34 for 14 footlongs, and they will cut them either in half or thirds (or leave whole) That would be really economical if you paired it with some tasty deli salads, chips and drinks. Oh and a cake....have to have cake for graduation! I think a picnic sounds like a great way to celebrate.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-25-2006
Sun, 01-20-2013 - 1:49pm
It is so nice that all your relatives want to travel to your DD's graduation; the meal is all that we'd pay for in that situation. A catered/carry-out picnic, or your dd's apt in case of rain, sounds like it would work best for your family. I have an aversion to long tables in a restaurant where only 4-6 can easily converse.

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