H.S. Graduation Open Houses

kimberlyrkbJune 12, 2012

I work with a woman who told me this week that she is attending 38 high school graduation open houses this month. 38!! And those are only the ones they're attending - they apparently received many more invitations than that, that they simply can't fit in. Her daughter is graduating this year, and apparently has a large social group.

Co-worker said she gives about $25 to each graduate. When I exclaimed about it being a lot of parties and a large financial outlay, she said these kids "have to invite everyone because that's how they get money for college!"

Really? Maybe I'm a Pollyanna, or maybe things have really changed in the 28 years since I graduated, but are kids really inviting everyone to their open houses to make money for college? Is that just common knowledge? And does anyone you know actually go to that many parties? Honestly, I can't believe it! My co-worker said every weekend the whole month of June is scheduled with these parties. As an introvert, it sounds like torture to me.

When I was in school, I was the one invited to my friends' open houses, not my parents, and they only attended the one given by my best friend or those for relatives.

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My DD just graduated and we had an open house. It was attended by her friends, some of our friends, neighbors and colleagues, and some of her teachers. No one gave her cash, and we didn't expect them to. Perhaps it is a regional thing?

I can't imagine giving cash to that many people, or "needing" to attend 38 parties in one month to fulfill my social obligations. I'm an introvert, but DH is not and even he would find double-digit parties to be over the top.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:38PM
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We too just had our grad party. The kids all come and go and my DD told me they all decided among themselves to not basically swap money with each to her.:) In our world when ever an invitation is sent a gift is assumed. I AGONIZED AND HATE HATE HATE the entire event! I do want friends, family to come celebrate her accomplishments but I feel like each invitation is seen as a solicitation and that inhibits me GREATLY!! leafy02 I wish I lived in your neighborhood!! I hear of many many people who even when giving modest amounts $10-$15 spend hundreds each 'grad season' when attending these things. I do not think the "goal" is to make money for college..but that has how things have developed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:04AM
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I have never even heard of a graduation open house!!! Perhaps it's not done in my area? We received 1 high school (relative) and 1 college (very close friends' son) graduation invitation this year. We too send money.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:26AM
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My son graduated last year and he and two friends went together to have an open house type party. It was a wonderful celebration and made it easier to plan it with two other moms. My son received several hundred dollars. However, we only invited friends and family. The kids all go to each other's parties, but do not give each other gifts. It's more to socialize and celebrate with each other. My son's gifts were from loving church members, close friends and family. We were grateful because he is working his way through college and NEEDED the money he received. We do not go to every grad party we are invited to. But if it is the child of a friend or family we try to go and/or send money.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 9:23AM
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I never heard of such a thing either. Some families have graduation parties where they invite family and friends but in general, people don't do that around here. I can see family and perhaps close friends giving a graduation gift, but what is the point of everyone in the class giving gifts to each other?

With the cost of applying to colleges (plus visits), and prom, why have this added expense? The parents should save the cost of throwing a party and give the money directly to the kid if s/he needs it. It costs at least $25 a head to have a party. In fact, they probably end up losing money on the deal.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 10:01AM
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38 would kill me, but we do have graduation parties here in our area. Generally, it's a 4 hour open house - with invitations going to your kid's friends via Facebook and friends of the parents/family members/neighbors etc. being invited by the parents.

I've had two graduate HS so far and in general I go to 3-4. Fortunately, several we were invited to were on the same day as our party so that was an easy excuse to not go.

As far as gifts, I did give $ to my son's friends - a decent amount to his very close friends and a smaller amount to those who we went to their party, but weren't particularly close with.

I guess you could think it's kind of silly, but it's a right of passage around here and many do not have parties, or just have immediate family and it's no big deal. It's really more fun for the kids to have a place to go and hang out, eat etc. The rule amongst my friends is you just don't want to have a party in the evening hours because they kids won't go home!!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Around here the topic of discussion at these parties is "how many do you have this week end?" We are from a small town and these are about work networking as much has visiting with friends. It seems you invite anyone who ever met your kid and everyone you ever worked with. Most spend all day Saturday and Sunday going from one to the next. You only spend about 20 minutes at any one. It is incredibly SILLY IMHO. Why isn't this a family only event?!! The graduates all party together at their all night grad party the night after graduation. I do not understand the NEED for these open houses. I am very surprised to hear it isn't something done EVERYWHERE. I wonder when it began in my neck of the woods? ND, MN, Iowa, Kentucky, Illinois all do this now but I know when I graduated in the '70's it was not this way.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 9:06AM
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I'm in the same general neck of the woods as dedtired and I've never heard of a HS graduation open house either.

The parties we've been invited to are usually family, a few neighbors & close friends of the parents, and friends of the graduate. One neighbor always does their party in August as a college send off and then they aren't competing with the June graduation parties.

I just cannot imagine attending and donating to 38+ parties.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 9:17AM
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Here, a group of grads (with their parents very involved, $) will get together and throw a big party. Depending on the number of people involved I've seen these parties at upscale restaurants, hotel ballrooms and even the Convention Center ( small, private school, group of over 20 girls were the honorees).

Planning starts early in the school year. The invitations are well thought out, always a group photo of the grads doing something fun.

Close family and friends usually are invited to the sitdown dinner part of the evening sitting with the grad that they have the relationship with. At a set time, after dinner, classmates (and other friends) that didn't participate in throwing the party are invited to celebrate. Usually a DJ provides music and lots more food is served.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:05AM
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Actually hhireno's description is exactly what we generally see in our area. I call it an open house because you can come and go within the party hours - some stay the whole time, others leave etc.

I think they're actually rather fun because you see people you don't get to see real often because they're the parents of your kids' friends - people who I may not be personal friends with, but people I enjoy seeing and talking with from time to time.

That said, my oldest just graduated from Ohio State this past weekend. It was 90 degrees out so we didn't even invite any other family members to come. I asked my son if he wanted to have a party/cookout and he informed me it wasn't that big of deal and the smaller the better! Went out to dinner at Hyde Park afterwards just the 5 of us. Very nice and very relaxing! Although, the actual graduation was painfully long and very hot. I informed my middle son that he's graduating in the winter!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 12:06PM
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Ya, they're very popular where I live too and for many people they're a big deal. People redecorate their homes and redo their landscaping before the big event. Everything is color coordinated and catered - big to-do. Once in a refreshing while we'll get invited to one that is a small, simple gathering of close family and good friends. I LOVE those. The others are a huge production with what seems like hundreds of people streaming in and out.

We don't have kids so we don't get invited to that many of these. Usually just reasonably close friends and family. We give cash and it varies depending on how close we are to the family. I have received invitations from somewhat distant family and other acquaintances where I don't even know the kid. Those I tend to think might be fishing for cash gifts. I ignore them entirely - no attendance, no gift, no card.

We have a weekend lake place and it's completely dead on the lake the entire month of June because everyone's back in the city attending graduation soirees.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 9:30PM
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I never heard of such a thing.

It's bad enough getting a graduation invitation from a young person that has no idea who you are and you haven't spoken to their parents in ten years.

My girls each only sent out less than ten graduation announcements, to close friends and family.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Our youngest two graduated from twelfth grade in schools away. DD attended a party that was organized by the kids themselves. They were very independent types and since they'd been living at boarding school without parents anyway they were perfectly content to celebrate without us. When she graduated from college we had a sit down luncheon at a restaurant in that city for all the friends and relatives who attended.

When DS graduated high school (different school, different town) we got together with several other families and hosted a reception at a country club. There were 200 people all told (our group was about 25), hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and champagne. That was an easy, relaxing way to cap off graduation night without worrying about party arrangements long distance. Some of the local families also had parties at their homes, and all our kids went to those after the reception was over. When he graduates from college we are booking an inn for the weekend and having a party there.

Funny, I don't remember partying that much when I graduated from any place!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:10PM
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I'm originally from Michigan but have lived in Florida since 1978. Graduations are a big deal around the area I'm from and parties are thrown to not only to celebrate a sort of right of passage but also as a means for the new adult to collect lots of money. I have gotten invitations from kids in Michigan that I have never met or I met them once as a tot or a baby. Over more than thirty years, some of the parents and I have maybe been in touch two or three times. I have a rule now that if we haven't talked in the last five years or if I would not know your child if I ran into them on the street...well, I just ignore the invitation. I just received an invitation from a gal that I do talk to on the phone at least once a year and every six months or so we update each other on our children and life. The tricky part of that invite is that the graduation party is shared with my friend's sister's son who I do not know. On top of not being friends with the sister I never really cared much for her because she is a big gossip and trash spreader. I will sent something to the gal's daughter I have keep in touch with but I'm not sure how to handle the other. If I just give to my friend's daughter maybe it will cause trouble or if I give more to my friend's daughter it will cause trouble. I could just send them both a little being that I'm not made of money but then I feel like I'm being cheap towards my friends daughter.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 12:27PM
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jterrilynn, this happened to me just this year. I was invited to a grad party for the daughter of a friend of mine. She and her boyfriend did a combined party. I gave her a card/check - nothing for the boyfriend as I do not know him other than to say hello when I see them together.

I wouldn't worry about it - I'm sure there are many people who only know one side or the other and will gift accordingly.

I guess if you're friends with your friend's sister, it might be more uncomfortable, but if you don't know the son, how could they expect you to send him a card etc. What would you say? "Hey you don't know me, but I know your Aunt X and by the way good luck in college!"

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 2:28PM
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At our sons graduation we specified no gifts. We looked upon it as a celebration, not an income-generating event. That sounds like the kids who want to go on a school or sports trip and instead of fundraising to earn the money, they ask for "sponsors"--- which is uncomfortably close to begging, IMO, since the putative sponsors get nothing in return for their money.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I have kids in the age range where they'd be invited to these things. We go and give gift cards. I don't mind going or even giving gifts really. What I hate is how cavalier the kids are about the gifts, they are so focused on raking it in they connect more with the MONEY than the fact that there's a person on the other end of the check. This is emphasized by the very overdue, messily written thank you notes. That is, if you even receive a note! Mostly you don't.

When my daughter graduated she thanked every single person who gave her a gift in person and promptly write her thank you notes. In one case, one of my good friends brought her sister who was visiting from overseas. My friend's sister brought a small token gift from her country. Of course My daughter wrote a note to thank her. I sent it to my friend, and my friend forwarded it to her sister who was very surprised to receive it. Apparently they'd been to other parties where the sister had brought a similar token gift and it was never acknowledged.

One of my best friends' sons never thanked me for his graduation gift. In a joking conversation she said she didn't think teenage boys could really be tamed to do that. Ummm, I just kept quiet. My son is graduating soon and you can be darned sure the thank you notes will go out, no matter what someone spends or what they give him.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 6:01PM
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When our #1 DD graduated HS 4 years ago, she tried to explain to us that this party whirlwind would happen. We had never heard of such a thing. In response, DH felt that one is supposed to graduate from HS, and that it was a bit vain to have a party for that. Well, we should have listened as she was practically the only grad in her class that didn't have a party. And then since we had set the precedent with DD1, we were caught about whether to have one for DD2 2 years later. Not as big a deal for DD2. But I have always felt very badly that we didn't ask around a bit more in our response to DD1. She was right, and we were wrong.

And the whole thing, every year, still garners the same response from my DH.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:30AM
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I offered my kids money to NOT have a party, but they really feel it is "what you do" so we did. Don't even get me started on the lack of thank yous. At my nephew's I was handed an envelope as we came in. I was excited to get what I assumed was the graduate's picture. I marveled at the little gift for all the attendees. It was, but enclosed was also the "thank you". Typed and printed, very generic, very impersonal. :0(

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Wow, 38 parties sounds like a chore to me unless you actually are close to that many people.

Around here it's common for a family to have a small gathering (think backyard bbq) for close "family" and a few friends maybe. I can't imagine inviting people that don't fit into one of those categories.

When I graduated we didn't even send out annoucements. I guess it's something to keep but I remember not wanting to since the people close to me knew I was graduating. Even though it's an "annoucement" I feel as though it's requesting a gift even if that's not the intention. Getting slightly off subject, I'm considering not sending baby annoucements for the same reason.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 7:57PM
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Arcy I feel your pain, and totally agree with juliek's DH'S. Big huge whoop, you actually made it through HS!! There was no way I was going to send out announcements, as I think it's a given , for crying out loud.
Ditto college graduation. Not because it's a given but , as Arcy expressed so well, I also view them as a hand out. When our kids got graduate degrees there were, again , no announcements. Did I brag in e-mails and
and Xmas cards? Yep, I sure did. The friends and family that would care were informed with no feeling of obligation.
As for parties, though I am a bit of a fuddy-stickler re etiquette, one "rule" I thumb my nose at is the " no gifts, please" taboo. I try to word it as sweetly
and strongly as I can, and most respect my request....especially since I verbally repeat the request in person, phone, etc.
This whole gift giving with huge parties, be they wedding, baby showers, birthday, anniversary has gotten way out of control. Greedy and obnoxious, IMO. End of rant!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 9:45PM
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My son's did not want a graduation party and I was happy about that. We sent out no announcements . My husband on the other hand thinks we should have as we are constantly getting hit up for money from people we do not know well. He thinks our boys should have gotten some money as a sort of pay back for all we have given lol.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Wow I've never heard of such a thing but I would say h.s. graduation parties are for losers, if you are making a big deal out of graduating high school that's pretty pathetic. Everyone graduates high school. Save the party for when they've REALLY accomplished something--at least college. More appropriate when they get an advanced degree, law or medicine. Guess I expect more out of my kids than to reward them for something that's a pretty minimum standard.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:07AM
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"At my nephew's I was handed an envelope as we came in. I was excited to get what I assumed was the graduate's picture. I marveled at the little gift for all the attendees. It was, but enclosed was also the "thank you". Typed and printed, very generic, very impersonal."

That's so tacky I'm having trouble processing it.....it's right up there with the money dance at weddings!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:24AM
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Little harsh Shappy don't you think?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:58PM
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Celebrations are such wonderful memories, why does it have to be a big deal to have one? I vote for celebrating more! We've had the wonderful privilege of getting to know a truly special young exchange student this school year. He is 16, from Italy, and spent most of the school year with family friends of ours. They had a going away party for him and at that party he remarked that he noticed how Americans like to celebrate things -and he was going to try to incorporate more of that into his family's life and his future. Pretty neat, especially coming from a 16 year old boy.

The money/gift/thank you cards is a separate issue, but one that seems to accompany all occasions. There are rude people and rude behaviors evident all throughout life, but in the case of young adults I try to err on the side of kindness and understanding. We were all young and inept once, and contrary to our memories, we weren't perfect little beings!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:42PM
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"h.s. graduation parties are for losers, if you are making a big deal out of graduating high school that's pretty pathetic. Everyone graduates high school."

Well, for the kid with dyslexia who fought for every "C", it's a big deal. For the kid who is the first in the family to finish high school, it's a big deal. For the kid who can't afford to go to college, it's a big deal. For the kid who doesn't want to go to college but prefers trade school, it's a big deal.

My parents expected all their children to go to college and we all did. Most of us also have graduate degrees. All our graduations had parties or celebrations--small ones, not on the scale described here, but definite markers of the milestones in our lives.

Not everyone needs or wants higher education. When my toilet is stopped up, I don't want a PhD; I want a plumber who has the appropriate training to be able to fix it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 6:25PM
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I agree that the celebration aspect is great! The gift expectations, not so much.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 6:42PM
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Well said Camlan.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Who can't agree celebrating is a joy and brings fun to life. What I think the point of this thread is, things have gotten WAY out of hand. HS grad parties should not be the time to fulfill every social obligation of reciprocity or networking for business's sake. TRUE not everyone graduates from High School. I work with many kids who do not and others who are THE FIRST in their family to do so. As stated for some families HS is a huge challenge, these families tend to celebrate MIGHTILY and I applaud them for it. I cannot understand the $$$$ that is shelled out to put some parties on or the "cost" it is for families to attend the number they are invited to. In my world it takes the FUN out of a celebration when anyone is backed into a financial corner due to a "celebration". I am just not comfortable American excess gives me a stomach ache!! "Live Simply so other can SIMPLY live"!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:01AM
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