Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A mother’s thoughts on prepping for a third child’s grad party May 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:37 AM
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BY THIS TIME six years ago, and two years prior to that, I would have had everything planned. Right down to the last food and decorating detail.

But now, the third time around, I am less stressed about the high school graduation reception which my husband and I will host for our youngest in a few weeks.

I suppose you might say the third time’s a charm. Or you might say that by child number three, I’m more relaxed. That would be true. It’s not worth worrying about weather or if I’ll have enough food or all those other details that can stress a graduate’s mom. Everything will fall into place or what will be will be.

That said, recently I finally forced the graduating son to help me design and print invitations. We’re keeping it simple—black and white photo paired with a slip of paper upon which the party information has been printed.

The soon-to-be graduate also assisted me in setting up a system to print computer generated addresses upon labels. I know those labels fail to meet Miss Manners guidelines. But I am lazy with this third graduate and prefer easy and convenient over hours of hand-addressing envelopes.

I was spoiled with the previous two graduates, both daughters. They pitched in, designed their own photo display boards and were otherwise helpful in the party planning. My boy has no interest in any of this.

A photo display board of my boy through the years. The images kept falling off, until I attached them with photo corners.

So I was left to peruse photo albums, to choose photos of my son and then organize them onto a tri-fold display board.

I’ve e-mailed extended family and asked for kitchen help and pans of bars for the party. They’ve obliged. We help each other like that.

Nine hams, bought on sale before Easter, are stashed in the freezer as are three batches of cookies.

I did a trial test of the cheesy potatoes I planned to serve and have subsequently replaced that menu item with easier-to-prepare and less-costly baked beans.

My florist sister has potted flowers that will serve as centerpieces upon tables draped with vintage tablecloths. It is better if I don’t think about the pre-party ironing.

My husband replaces crumbled stones on a backyard limestone pathway.

The husband has redone a portion of the partially crumbling backyard limestone pathway. We can’t have guests tripping on rock. He just began cleaning the garage, which will center the reception along with several tents. We have a working man’s garage packed with two work benches, a tool box and equipment everywhere. Nothing pristine and bare or neat and orderly about our exposed-studs garage.

We’re not planning to paint rooms, shampoo carpet or otherwise upgrade our house. Except to use the bathroom, guests are supposed to stay outside.

But when they do venture indoors to use the facilities, I hope they won’t notice the section of cardboard-covered wall in the dining room where a brick chimney was removed 2 ½ years ago. Maybe they will appreciate that the bathroom faucet does not leak; the husband recently replaced it.

I hope the kitchen crew doesn’t twist off the leaky and worn kitchen faucet or wonder too much why I haven’t yet replaced the vintage brown kitchen sink or yellowing cupboards or the Formica countertops or the aged vinyl flooring. Perhaps several strategically-placed bottles of wine will keep them from focusing on the flaws…

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “A mother’s thoughts on prepping for a third child’s grad party”

  1. dakotagirl Says:

    I have my only child’s high school grad reception next Saturday. I’m totally clueless about the whole thing. How do you even guess how many people might show up? It is also in our garage so no home remodeling for me either. I guess as long as the diploma is signed, it’s all good.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I so feel for you because that first grad reception can be stressful. Based on turn-out at my daughters’ parties, about two-thirds of the invited guests attended. It might help to look through your guest list and estimate numbers. For example, if you’re like me and have invited relatives from far away (especially older family members), you can pretty much figure they won’t attend. I’m expecting around 125 at our son’s party.

      The key for you as the mom is to make sure you have plenty of help in the kitchen. You will not have time, none at all, to be dealing with anything in the kitchen. I am blessed to have family members willing to work kitchen detail and bring food. I’ve done the same for them.

      Good luck and try to relax and enjoy the day.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Sounds like you have it all under control, good for you. I did the exact three thing for all three of mine, so I pretty much had it down by #3 🙂
    Have fun!

  3. Sounds like you’ll have a huge party! I both look forward to and am afraid of our kid’s future grad parties. At least I have 6 years to figure it out! I love that you’re not stressed about the imperfections! I hope it all goes great. our graduation here in Worthington is tomorrow night!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Both of our families are big, so that makes a lot of people right there. And when you’ve lived in one community for 30 years, like we have, there are also lots of friends to invite. Nope, no sense stressing about the house as guests are coming to celebrate our son’s graduation, not to tour the house. I’ll pretty up the tables and the yard and, if the weather is beautiful, we should be good.

  4. hotlyspiced Says:

    Nine hams? You must have a really big freezer. I’m sure everyone will be getting plenty to eat. How lovely of you to host graduation parties for all three of your children. What a great idea. And yes – girls are so much more helpful in getting things organised and letting you know exactly what they want xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      We have a big chest freezer in our basement. It was a wedding gift from my parents. So, yes, lots of room. Those hams are not huge–lots of smaller butt end hams (I think that’s what they are and I’m too lazy to run down and check). Almost everyone in Minnesota has a freezer in their basement or garage.

      Big high school graduation parties are the norm for Minnesota. Most are held at the graduate’s home. The main food fare is typically some type of sandwich although tacos have also become popular in recent years. We’ll serve ham sandwiches, baked beans, fruit with dip, chips with nacho cheese sauce and an assortment of bars and cookies. My son didn’t care much about the menu. His only input was insisting that we NOT have bottled water. Not that he doesn’t like water; he just thinks buying water in a bottle is ridiculous and environmentally unwise. I am honoring his request.

  5. Brenda N Says:

    Thanks for the calming boost this morning! We, too, are preparing for our third child’s graduation on Sunday and I was starting to wonder why I don’t feel that sense of stress and panic I did with the first two. I guess it’s because we’ve done this before! It is all about the graduate and the people! Thanks for the encouragement! Have a great party and congratulations to both of you!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Congratulations to you, too, and your high school graduate also. I’m happy my post reassured you. I hope you have a fabulous day celebrating.

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