Boulton: Graduation gatherings

Laura Boulton

Laura Boulton

There’s an ease for some, in planning parties and assembling guests. But let’s face it, when it comes to really special occasions like a wedding or graduation, sometimes it is best to enlist some support from family and friends, and even outside professionals. With graduation season upon us and members of the class of 2013 spilling out the doors of colleges and high schools, here are a few hospitality tips to help you tackle your graduation festivities.

Meet & greet — Appoint a person to be at the door or on the walkway to meet your guests, inform them of parking and guide them to the party. If no one is available, be sure to mark an entrance with a festive balloon cluster to show the way.

Bring on the buffet — Make it easier on yourself and serve your food buffet style. This requires some advance planning in properly staging the table. Always have a clear beginning to the buffet, signaled by stacking your dinner plates at one end. Create visual interest by varying heights on the table. This can be achieved by stacking books or cubes under the table linen and even draping extra linens around. Get a little artistic and create labels for each of your dishes. Using place cards or small picture frames, identify the dish, and even list ingredients. Place flatware and napkins at the end of the buffet line so guests don’t have to juggle while filling up their plates. Napkin roll-ups are a great idea to do ahead of time. Wrap the utensils in the napkins, tie each with colorful ribbon or raffia, and place them in a pretty basket.

Bring back the guest book — Many can recall the guest book at your wedding, which was soon stowed away with other mementos of the day that you haven’t looked at in years. Even this wedding tradition has been updated with guests stamping their thumbprints on an artistic rendering of a tree, or writing notes tableside during the reception. For the graduate, start a new tradition asking guests to pen a note sharing congratulations or words of advice. This can be done either on the pages of a book or on note cards you provide for a great keepsake.

Bar basics — If you don’t hire a bartender, set-up a self-serve bar or enlist guests to help pour the drinks. Streamline the offerings and simply provide beer, wine and soft drinks. The mix of any party is key, and given the fact that guests will be people of all ages, be sure to have a fun, non-alcoholic beverage for all to enjoy.

I thought it would be a good idea to share a perfect summer drink recipe that is a great addition to any party you might be planning in the summer months ahead. It can be made in advance and placed in a large beverage dispenser at an end of the bar, so that guests can simply serve themselves. The Berry Bash Lemonade is a delicious, non-alcoholic mix of classic lemonade with a twist of fresh summer berries.

Berry Bash Lemonade


1 lb. frozen blueberries
2 lbs. frozen raspberries
2 lbs. frozen black berries
1 and a haf cups honey
96 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
5 gallons water
Berries for garnish
Defrost frozen berries and then puree. Strain the berry puree. Combine the pureed berries with the water, lemonade concentrate and honey. Stir well and garnish with fresh berries. Enjoy!


Laura Boulton has lived in Darien for 19 years. Before starting her event planning business in 2010, Boulton was in the catering business for five years. For more information, visit her website at or follow her on twitter @LBoultonevents


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