Celebrating Graduation in Omaha, NE 2017
Graduation, a major life milestone and crowning achievement, is a momentous occasion that signals the end of one’s journey in pursuit of a degree that will greatly impact the direction of that individual’s life moving forward. Along with the well-deserved festivities, it’s also a time for preparation to begin a new chapter, whether moving on to pursue a higher level of education or entering the workforce and embarking on your chosen career path.
The time has come to celebrate the accomplishments of high school and college graduates, with all of the ceremonies and parties to attend likely to dominate the weekend schedules for many of us very soon. For those on the hosting end, if you haven’t already begun preparations, you’d better get to it!
Keeping in mind that many of the vendors for graduation parties cross over into weddings, with that season beginning full-force at the same time, it can present quite the challenge to get on the books with those you prefer. For those seeking inspiration, look no further – here are a few suggestions that can still be nailed down for the grad’s big day.
The Place: While hosting a party at someone’s home remains popular, there are also many who will opt to host their guests at another venue depending on the logistics and how they prefer to celebrate with everyone.
With no shortage of fantastic ideas for this type of event, Ashley Brooks of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema offers just a few suggestions:
“Why not reach out to other parents and see about doing a joint party together? Graduations are expensive, but the party doesn’t have to be. Sharing the space with another graduate will make their party even more special for the kids.
I would also suggest going with a buffet-style meal, whether it be appetizers, pizza, or even a build-your-own taco bar. Since graduation events are all happening within the same couple weeks, multiple parties will be going on at the same time. Having a buffet will allow your guests to be able to visit multiple parties throughout the day, because there’s no set time for a meal and they can eat as much or as little as they like.
Based on the most common question I get asked – ‘How do we make our party different than the other graduation parties?’ – personalization ranks high on the list of importance. To achieve this objective, it’s all about getting your graduate involved. Make sure you sit down with and ask them what they want in a party. Have them make a mixtape or set up a playlist of their favorite songs to play for the event. Include them in the design of their cake. Ask your grad and their friends make the decorations. Their ideas are as unique, and probably more so; why not incorporate those to personalize the party?”
Specifically regarding graduation parties at Alamo Drafthouse, she notes, “One thing makes our venue so unique is our versatility; we not only rent our movie theaters as event space, but we have a beautiful restaurant with a private patio available. It is a spacious room located next to the bar area that can seat up to 86 people. Depending on the forecast, during the day we can open the garage door to the patio to create an indoor/outdoor setting for the event, adding an additional 140 seats. There are two fire pits on the patio that can be turned on once the sun starts to set. The Liquid Sunshine Taproom is labeled as a sports bar, but it doesn’t have that sports bar feel. It’s the perfect location for your graduate’s party.”
The Food: An entertaining staple, no doubt. You can put together a great spread yourself, or alternatively, let the professionals handle it for you so that you too can join in on the celebration without having to worry about a thing!
“We always have bundles and party packs available at the shop to grab and go, which you can also order by phone or in our online store to stop by and pick up at your designated date and time,” explains Sean Fuller of Just Good Meat. “These can be customized too. We’re also able to put together a meal or spread based upon your budget, how many people you’ll be entertaining, and what food items you’d like to be served. Just a few of our popular items include smoked chicken breasts with a variety of marinades to choose from, BBQ meats, sloppy joes, and smoked prime rib that is delicious on its own but also perfect for French dip and Philly sandwiches. We also have great items for those who prefer hors d’oeuvres, including meat and cheese platters, meatballs, skewers, or scaling down our entrees to miniature sliders or bite-sized portions. And for those who are grilling, we’ve got just about anything you can think of for meat, and plenty of homemade sides to pair with any of those. We always kick off spring with a sale right in time for graduation parties, with great prices on ribeyes, T-bones, Porterhouses, bacon-wrapped filets, top sirloin, chicken breasts, grass-fed hamburger patties, an assortment of fresh fish, and over 15 different types of homemade sausages, including cheese, bacon cheese, jalapeno cheese, Hawaiian pineapple, and more. Our food truck can also be booked, which is a big hit at parties.
At Just Good Meat, our approach to serving our clientele focuses on attention to detail with an emphasis on great customer service. We essentially take the time, hassle, and stress out of party planning for our customers. As far as feeding your guest goes, no matter if you’re hosting 10-20 people or 100-200+, we have plenty of options for all preferences and dietary restrictions. Our team will execute everything that pertains to feeding your guests so that you can enjoy the moment and the good company instead of worrying about these details before, during or after the party. However, for those that don’t envision shying away from the grill but just the opposite, want to be in charge of the whole operation, there are literally hundreds of great options.”
Fuller also mentions, “The best part about Just Good Meat is that whether you’re planning ahead for our catering services or need to stop and pick up items at the store last minute, we can help you make it happen either way. With our variety, expertise, and flexibility you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you’re looking for…and with so many possible choices, maybe even something that you hadn’t even considered as an option! Planning a party is a big undertaking and our goal is to take a major part of that off of your plate by offering an easy way to provide your guests a delicious meal or hearty snack that will fit all of your specific requirements.”
The Drinks: Just as important as the fare. Maybe a few kegs of beer, an assortment of spirits and mixers, a few bottles of wine, a signature drink in honor of the senior, juice bar, non-alcoholic refreshments, or all of the above. To simplify this part of the prep, you’ll want to be able to grab everything at the same place if at all possible, and ensure that you have enough to go around.
Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal is great for picking up your celebration needs in this area because they have hundreds of items to choose from, with a large variety on-hand. Rather than trying to find the best sales, you’ll always be offered great prices no matter when you stop by – a guarantee that’s well worth noting. From well-known brands to ones that aren’t commonly available at the usual retail stores, it’s a rock-solid one-stop-shop for just about anything you could think of as far as adult beverages are concerned. You’ll even find a nice selection of party staples such as paper plates, tableware, and table coverings; how about that for convenience!
Oftentimes the most challenging part of buying your refreshments isn’t so much picking out a variety of drinks, but more so deciding how much you’ll need. Since the team at Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal has plenty of experience in this area, you can count on them to help you accurately estimate the quantity you’ll need to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be expecting.
“Knowing what to serve and the quantities needed is most often the dilemma that party planners are facing,” says Jim Sobczyk of Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal. “Our experienced staff will not only help you decide the number of servings but also the proportion of beer, wine, liquor, punch and soft drinks. We realize that helping our clients stay within their budget while satisfying their guests’ needs is of the utmost importance. Instead of taking your chances and buying the wrong amount, we’ll save you a lot of time and hassle.”
Aside from gearing up for the party, Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal is also a great place to find a graduation gift for the wine, beer or liquor connoisseur—or just the person who likes to enjoy a few good drinks here and there. There are even DIY kits available for those who like to brew their own beer, with easy-to-understand instructions that are great for beginners too.
The Set-Up: Tables and chairs, canopies, place settings, décor…chances are you may not have all of this in your own personal party stash. For anything you might need for the graduation party to come together, Honeyman Rent-All has a dedicated party rental division that’s got you covered. You can check out all of the items available online at www.honeymanrentall.com, and we assure you, it’s an extensive selection. Although we didn’t dedicate a section to entertainment, it’s a party must too, and Honeyman Rent-All even has that well in hand. There’s everything you’d need for karaoke, inflatables for the little ones, and indoor/outdoor games galore (many of which would go along great with a themed party).
After working so hard, for so long, towards this very moment where graduates can finally say “I did it,” you might opt to take a little personal time to savor the victory. (The same holds true for parents, wink wink.) This might simply be for some much-needed R&R right here at home, but since graduation significantly frees up the schedule, why not take the opportunity to travel? After all, you never know when the opportunity will present itself down the line when you’re pursuing your career ambitions or have a family to consider.
“After such an accomplishment, a post-graduation trip can supply a little R & R after those finals, give you a chance to see the world and prepare for your next life adventure!” says Dana Smithberg of The Vacation Store & The Cruise Company. “Some popular destinations include Europe, the Caribbean, Las Vegas, New York City – or hop on a cruise and explore several destinations! All-inclusive options in the Caribbean are a great option for this age group; top all-inclusive locations also include the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico. Let The Vacation Store & The Cruise Company find the perfect all-inclusive resort to help you unwind and recharge.
Alternatively, many grads are ready for some adventure! Whether it be touring through Europe or ziplining through the jungles of South America.
For either relaxation or adventure, Mexico is a popular destination due to its close proximity and affordability. Top destinations in Mexico include Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Mazatlán and the Riviera Maya. Since many haven’t started making the big bucks quite yet, grads in both categories are also looking for a great deal. The Vacation Store & The Cruise Company works closely with our vendors to find the ideal trip to fit your budget. Our services are always complimentary and priced guaranteed. Or, we have gift certificates, so consider giving the graduate a gift of lifetime memories.”
She adds, “With this age group, some typical questions include what destinations are safe, include activities and often if they need a passport. We’ve got the answers!”
Next Step Prep
While all of the celebrating is much-needed and well-deserved, now what? For high school graduates going on to college, for college graduates who plan to continue their education for an advanced degree, or for any graduate entering the workforce, being prepared is key.
Knowing what you want is one thing, and you might not even be at that point yet even though you now have a degree. However, knowing how to get it is an area where you’ll probably benefit from some guidance moving forward.
There are many resources here in the Omaha Metro that can open your eyes to the possibilities. Find a mentor, attend a job or career fair, set an appointment to shadow a businessperson or meet with an educator or counselor, attend networking events, get involved in the community, and get connected so that you’re the first to know about the latest and greatest opportunity.
Aside from that, you’re moving from one phase of life to the next, and that transition looks different for everyone. Be mindful of staying on track even though there may be less structure from here on out, and be as prepared as possible for what’s to come. Take control of your destiny, start talking to the professionals early and do so often, and take note of the things you can do to set yourself up for success, because they are out there in abundance!
Congratulations Class of 2017 graduates! We honor you for your great accomplishments, and wish you much success and prosperity in the years to come. It’s almost time to party, which we’re sure you’re all aware, so don’t waste any time getting down to business and planning the event of the season!