Dear Crabby, How Big of a Graduation Party Should We Have?

Dear Crabby,

Our son will be graduating high school this year, and we would like to throw him a big party. Some of his friends’ parents are spending thousands of dollars and renting huge tents and bands. Is this what is expected these days, or is this overkill?  How big of a party should we throw for him?

Sincerely, Mindy Middleclass

Dear Mrs. Middleclass,

Before I answer your questions, I’d like to tell you about my experience.   I was so excited when I found out that I had graduated high school, I ran all the way home to tell my father the news.  His loving response was, “Great, now I owe your mother five bucks.” Ignoring his comment, I asked if we could have a little party to celebrate the event. He said that would be fine and then he gave me my first gift. It was in an envelope with everything already written out and waiting for me. I thought, “Oh my, he has been waiting for this day for a long time.” The envelope was on his shelf and had my name on the front. I opened it up with great enthusiasm and read aloud, “Son, good job on finishing school finally. Here is your new rent expense and your share of the utilities, should you choose to stay with Mom and me. Love, Dad.” I was a little shocked, since I didn’t have a job yet, but my father assured me that somebody would hire me eventually. So I said, “But I can still have that party right, Dad?” Without skipping a beat, he quipped, “Well, if you don’t have the money for rent, I’d be careful how much you plan to spend on the party.” I walked away, mentally comparing the pros and cons of a higher-paying job with a fun, hang-out-with-your-friends job. Thankfully, my mother softened him up later and we eventually had some family and friends over for cake and ice cream. When it came time for my own kids’ graduations, I tried to pull the same lines on them that my father did on me. However, the missus intercepted my letters and offered to throw them a big party anyway. When I even mentioned the rent, she gave me the look – you know the one I’m talking about. So, I guess it only makes sense that as time goes on these parties have gotten bigger and more elaborate, but then again so has the cost of college.  I bet if everyone stopped throwing all this money at these parties, these kids wouldn’t have the huge college debt they have today. But I will say this – now that my kids are past that age and I am just a spectator – I love these big parties. Last year, we were invited to one where they had a big band playing the old Glenn Miller tunes and another one had a huge lobster boil!  As long as I’m not paying for it, I think the bigger the better! I hope that helps.  Make sure you invite me if you are having lobster!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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