What is the real objective in throwing a high school graduation party?
Do parents who throw high school graduation parties do it to raise money for their graduate? I find it distasteful. I hate attending them. I dislike being invited because it just seems all they care about is the monetary gift. It is even worse when they are relatives and you have only a superficial friendship through marriage. How much do you give to a high school student graduating who is related, but someone you barely speak to? What do you give a neighbor's kid who you barely know...worse you don't really even know the neighbor?What is the norm for miss manners and etiquette?
Seriously? Graduation parties I attended, gave, and had, had nothing to do with 'raising money.' It was to honor the person and their accomplishment- and also to get together with people the new grad might never see again (like their fellow grads).
However, considering your POV, you could just send a card-- it would show the grad you're thinking of him/her, but you wouldn't be obligated to show up or give them a gift.
The last thing on a lot of people's minds, when they have a graduation party, is money and/or money gifts. A whole lot of people really just know/think/feel that things like graduations are special events; so it's nice to celebrate (and "recognize"/"honor" the guest(s)-of-honor by having a party.
One reason people invite others who barely know their son or daughter (if they know them at all) is this: Say you're a mother who is fairly close with someone like a neighbor or a co-worker; but the other person doesn't happen to run into your son/daughter because grown kids are off doing their own thing (and aren't likely to show up at Mom's work or be there on that day when Mom and co-worker go to brunch). You (the mom) are close to this person, and you're having a big party at your home or at a function place somewhere. You can't imagine having this big party that you're putting so much work into planning, and talking about; and not inviting that neighbor or co-worker that you're so close to (even if circumstances are such that that she never runs into your family). Also, you like having the opportunity to let that neighbor/co-worker finally meet your family and share in a personal celebration. You may just hope that person will come and share in the celebration, and therefore even tell them not to worry about bringing a gift; because you just want to offer them a nice afternoon/evening (since you're offering that to a lot of other people you may know a lot less).
Calling to "RSVP" is a good opportunity to ask "if there's some kind of thing the guest-of-honor might really enjoy getting as a gift". The reply it will likely give you a rough idea of what the person having the party has in mind as far as "level of gift" goes. From there you can kind of "translate" any "mentions" into money.
Thanks for your perspective. It answered my question and really gave me some insight. I think my experience is skewed due to the relations with some of my in laws.
I agree with the party being a time to honor the accomplishments of the graduate. It is also a great time to catch up with family and friends. Money is one thing the graduate can certainly use for college but not required as a gift.
I think a graduation party is more about celebrating the moment. If you feel you want to give, give. If not, I don't think anyone will be terribly offended.
I think that the real objective is to celebrate an important milestone in the life of the child. Now that you mention gifts, I could see where some families might make that the emphasis for the occasion, but it really should be left up to invitees to participate or not in gift-giving. A card would be great, though.
If an invitation to any event makes you feel uncomfortable, irritated or frustrated then the answer is simple; just don’t go. You can politely have “something else going on”. By not going you shouldn’t feel the need to send a card/money in your place. You’re busy, you can’t attend and so you won’t be providing a gift, oh well. I wouldn’t get offended if I invited someone to an event and they “couldn’t make it” and didn’t send a gift. There are too many occasions for too many people to make everything anyway and everyone should understand that.
With that being said, I graduated from high school a little over a decade ago and it was nothing short of a miracle. The only thing I had achieved in high school was being named “Class Clown”. I was proud of myself for graduating high school and knew that I would be about to begin the journey of the rest of my life and I saw my Graduation Party as a way of celebrating what I had accomplished and a way of seeing everyone before I headed off for Lord knows where I was going. Yes, I certainly didn’t mind that my guests gave cards/money, but at the same time I felt almost awkward receiving them. I really did only want to share the day with those people, I was much less concerned about the money. I had friends of equivalent ages attend my party empty handed and I was just as happy that they came. For the record, the couple of hundred dollars that I ended up with put my first car on the road that got me to and from college, so at least it contributed to my college education.
On the other hand, I can absolutely relate to what you are saying and sometimes I can do nothing more than raise my eyebrow to some of the invitations I have received over the years; I think, “Do I even know who this person is or do they even know me?” What is the point of inviting near-strangers to a joyous personal event? Yes, I do think that oftentimes, money is the main motivator behind invites, not necessarily the party itself but probably half of the people invited.
Like I said, just don’t go but express your congratulations.
In most families, that are more basic. It just means, everyone is supportive and happy for the one and their family that is celebrating a graduation, by giving a party. Basic, and I feel a lot more meaningful to the Graduate in most cases. Because the focus is on their 'happiness'. A lot of food, choices made by the family. A lot of music, agreed on by the 'graduate' can be a variety of 'tunes', people enjoy to hear. Some dancing, if enough room. A lot of 'talks' and present giving. Maybe a new car or a nice used car be offered as a gift, a trip planned. Its just a way of sharing 'happiness' for the Graduate!
I just found this question and it is very pertinent to me right now. My oldest son is a senior this year and will be graduating at the end of this school year. Just this month many of his friends graduated and we went to some graduation parties. Of course we brought gifts, but the most important thing was to celebrate the accomplishments of the kids. It takes a lot of hard work to graduate from high school and many kids don't reach this milestone. Parents want relatives and friends to celebrate with their children, even if just coming and congratulating, sending a card but saying you can't make it, etc.
I am looking forward to a graduation party for my son. I have started to think of even combining with his friends so that they can celebrate together.
I understand the frustration of wondering what to do about a child you barely know, but I think a congratulations card would suffice or as the other person said, ask the parent if there is anything that they might want or particularly need if they are going to college for their dorm, etc.
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