Our DIY graduation party elements

All grown up and graduated now
All grown up and graduated now

I added a few handmade touches to my older son’s graduation party and thought I’d discuss them. {Because I’m reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I am considering an uptick in the food quality around here. For example, instead of buying from a grocer, I might purchase direct from the farmer or grow my own onion (as if my produce would last until the following June). Maybe our next grad party will be more sustainable.}

  • smoked pork
  • apple cider vinegar for the warm German potato salad (“N” of GAIN chose his menu)
  • pickled onions
  • table toppers
  • honey lemonade
  • confetti
  • the cake, which was outsourced. And was more gorgeous than I could make.

Smoked pork. I did this myself with the Cooked recipe. I gave myself a few days cushion because you never know — the meat could be dry, burned, etc. and I might need time to make up new options. Fortunately, I didn’t need the cushion because everything turned out well. I wish I had pictures, because the shoulders looked glorious and the bark was excellent when eaten warm.

Apple cider vinegar. I have successfully replenished my apple cider vinegar supply twice. I have to say that I feel very satisfied when I use staples that I made myself. And the potato salad was a hit — there were no leftovers. That’s EIGHT POUNDS OF POTATOES, folks.

Pickled onions. Introduced to our family in December 2012, I had no idea that the entire batch would get eaten. But I’m not much of an “onion on my sandwich” person. I sent the recipe home with a couple fans.

Table toppers. (These would look good for a Halloween party.)


diy, table topper

I can’t help that the school’s colors were orange and black. I just couldn’t find what I wanted so made what I wanted. I started with unused knee high pantyhose. Why did I buy brown diamond knee highs anyway? They went to a good cause — filled with sand and cut, then tied like a balloon. Two knee highs, four table toppers. I wrapped them with colored mylar from the party store, fastened with a rubber band. I colored some birch twigs with the leftover black spray paint and poked them in. I cut out some mortarboards and rounded, irregular rectangles (because I’m not a precision person) with the graduation year. They were stuck in floral wire that I cut to length and poked in the hose. Lastly, I bought 12 glittery gold pokers from a floral shop for $1. They were leftover from a recent wedding, so I happened to ask the right person at the right time. Total cost was under $1 for each.

Honey lemonade. EASIEST RECIPE EVER! 32 oz. bottle of lemon juice, pint of honey, 2 gallons of water, chill. It probably could have been stirred more often, because the bottom of the pitcher was potent. It was very well received, which means to me that people don’t have this special drink very often. Too bad I don’t have my own lemon tree.

Confetti. I thought I could buy confetti by the color, but no. Nothing is that easy. I didn’t plan on making our own confetti, and thankfully have a kid and a three-hole puncher available. Scraps of orange and black paper are pretty easy to come by and supplemented store-bought dimensional foil graduation confetti.

The cake. Handmade, by someone else. This is the third time we’ve contracted with this gal. She really needs to leave some business cards with us next time. We get many questions about who made the cakes. We’ve now had white, chocolate marble, chocolate, and lemon marble flavors — all quite yummy.

I just let the gal decorate as she saw fit and said that I'd trust her judgment and VOILA! a great looking cake appeared on my table.
I just let the gal decorate as she saw fit and said that I’d trust her judgment and VOILA! a great looking cake appeared on my table.
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