Graduation season is upon us, and while we all think of celebrating this significant achievement and life milestone at great parties, there are many aspects involved in the preparation of successful events surrounding any graduation. Planning ahead is key, as there are many facets you can plan for surrounding the ceremony, party, heading to college, and even details that can help any graduate to prepare for life once school is finished.

Experts would agree that adjusting to a life of independence coming from a heavily structured environment of high school can be difficult and overwhelming at times. College can be stressful and there is no reason to add more to your plate with your teeth. Dr. Dean DeWispelare of 3-D Dental recommends having a full comprehensive exam, x-rays and a cleaning prior to college. This not only gets it done and out of the way before you become too busy with school, work, and extra-curricular activities, but also gives you a chance to have any necessary treatments performed before any problems escalate. Routine care and cleanings are crucial, as the last thing you want is for a painful mouth to keep you from your studies and having fun. Additionally, Dr. DeWisepelare recommends scheduling you next six-month cleaning appointment after the comprehensive exam to establish a routine. For routine care, try to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, and always change toothbrushes every three months. Dr. DeWisepelare suggests that parents, family and friends who love to send care packages can throw in some new toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste, or even include travel size products because they are perfect to stash in a backpack and will also serve as a reminder. Always give yourself the gift of a healthy, pain-free and beautiful smile. Self-confidence goes along with having nice teeth, and one of the best features that you have is your smile. Make the most of it and share it with your new friends and college community!

Entertainment at your graduation party is essential to creating an exciting and memorable event, and can include fun games or projects to engage guests of all ages. Shawna Miller, owner of HoppyKidz, offers a variety of products and services geared towards graduation parties, including inflatable equipment, games, food and beverages, concession equipment and do-it-yourself projects. A few popular choices for inflatable equipment are the Obstacle Course, Pony Hops, and Bouncy Boxing. These three items are great for all ages, but especially appeal to the graduating age groups. The Obstacle Course can be made into a challenge by having two people race at a time and declaring a winner or even creating a bracket-style competition. The Pony Hops are also as much fun for the spectator as the participants, and include inflatable ponies that are challenging to maneuver as they hop, jump, bounce, turn sideways, and make for a hysterical and calamity riddled race to the finish line. Bouncy Boxing is very popular and always a big hit, and is definitely not just for “the boys.” Not only do boys and girls of all ages join in the action, but watch out when you get mom or grandma into the ring! The equipment is made to ensure the safety of all participants, with a soft surface to bounce on and large gloves that are less dangerous than regular boxing gloves. Concession options offered by HoppyKidz are unique and can add a fun, whimsical touch to your graduation party. The Hot Dog Hut is a fan favorite, and is a single unit that steams the hot dogs in the bottom and the buns on the top which makes it easy to set up and use. It’s a great way to serve a lot of hot food quickly, without a ton of preparation and mess. HoppyKidz offers additions to The Hot Dog Hut, like putting a couple crock-pots filled with nacho cheese and chili which makes for great toppings on the hot dogs and also putting chips out so you can make nachos with the same cheese you use on the dogs! Cotton candy is another classic party favorite, and they carry several flavors in different color options for a variety of tastes and visual indulgence. Pucker Powder (or Party Art) is yet another favorite often used at bigger events and the kids can’t get enough of it! Each person gets a straw (different lengths available) and they can pour different colors/flavors into their straws to make designs. It’s just like “sand art” only you can EAT this! HoppyKidz offers banana, apple, bubble gum, and several other yummy flavors that can be sweet or sour. There’s definitely a flavor to please everyone. HoppyKidz takes pride in their business and wants to make sure their customers are taken care of. They are fully insured and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and love to make your children HOPPY while striving to help you have the best party possible. The HoppyKidz’ staff are dedicated to setting up safely and want to make sure that everything runs smoothly for your party, which includes providing detailed information about what you need to prepare your yard or other venue for the bouncers, or suggestions for units to accommodate different age groups as well as party planning advice. Getting their senior portraits taken, for many teenagers, is a significant right-of-passage on par with getting a driver’s license, graduating from college, or landing that first big job. Many times, juniors have been researching and planning this event from the first day they stepped into high school their freshman year. And unlike previous generations, when it was something we simply checked off our summer to-do list before the start of our senior year, today’s teens are looking for much more. They are looking for an experience that will make them feel unique, important, beautiful, and invested in. Senior portraits are more than just pictures. They can be, and many times are, life-changing. Cherie Phelps of C. Phelps Photography offers some helpful tips on where to begin the process of finding a great, experienced and professional photographer to capture those amazing senior pictures.

Find An Expert: Just like a bride should see the importance of hiring a photographer who specializes in the intricacies and details of wedding portraiture, it is equally important to hire a photographer who specializes in high school senior portraiture. Make sure you find a photographer who is an expert at their craft, shows consistency in their work, produces a high-quality, properly-lit image, and most importantly- understands teens and has an easy time talking, relating, and interacting with them.

Stay Relevant: The art of senior photography is much different than most other types of portraiture and the trends change almost as fast as a movie star changes spouses. The life-span of a trend can be as little as a couple of months, and what was hip and cool six months ago in all aspects of your teenagers’ world, is more than likely old news today. Therefore, your senior photographer should be relevant, show knowledge in the area of teen trends including fashion, music, entertainment, and social media, as well as have a sense of what is happening in the lives of these tech-savvy, millennial generation bundles of awesomeness.

Build a Relationship: Technology has afforded us the opportunity to touch-base with our loved ones via a multitude of impersonal devices. However, in the business of photography, which is a highly relational industry, being able to connect with your photographer and build a relationship with him or her either face-to-face or voice-to-voice is essential to a well-prepared and memorable session. Make sure the photographer is available and willing to spend the time necessary to not only capture incredible images of your teen, but also build a relationship which evokes a high level of trust and a like-minded partnership. Part of this relationship is having a photographer that will walk you through every step of the senior portrait experience. From getting ready and what to wear, to choosing the right portraits and products just for you, education and open communication is the key to feeling like you are valued and appreciated.

Price Options: More often than not, this is the first question parents ask when choosing a photography studio for their senior portrait needs. While session fees and pricing is a consideration, it shouldn’t be the first one. Consider the following situation: It’s Friday night and you have a romantic date planned with your significant other to celebrate an important event. When you consider the restaurant in which you will be sharing a romantic dining together, would you ask yourself, “Where can I get the least expensive food in town that is sufficiently tasty, and served alongside several other customers by a waiter who doesn’t have time to refill our water glass?” Of course not! More likely it would go something like this: “Where can I take my sweetheart for a delicious, perfectly prepared meal served by an attentive waiter who makes us feel appreciated, where the atmosphere is intimate and inviting and will leave a lasting impression to her of how much she means to me, and we will walk away with a great memory of a wonderful celebration that will last a lifetime.” Of course price is part of this thought process, but it doesn’t play a significant part because it’s more about the feeling, the experience, the relationship, and the lasting memory. Without that, the cost doesn’t matter much.

Senior portraits are an eagerly anticipated, somewhat scary right-of-passage, which symbolizes your child’s leaving behind their dependence and youth, and stepping into their independence and adulthood. You can’t afford not to demand the best portrait, experience, and memory for you and your teenager.

When a person graduates from college, they have more distinct direction to follow based upon their focus of study, job prospects, and further education goals. When graduating from high school, on the other hand, the possibilities are endless. The best plan is to have one. Consider all of your options carefully, and give yourself enough time to change your mind– even a couple of times. You will give yourself a better chance for success if you have done the research, and being fully prepared to make decisions that will impact the rest of your life will further ensure success into the future.