1. Make a guest list. You can limit the guests to close friends and family, or you can aim for a broader cross-section of friends or classmates.

2. Plan decorations if you want. Consider school colors, graduation year or school sports teams as a theme.

3. Bake a cake. No graduation party is complete without a "Congratulations Graduates!" cake to share.

4. Do as much food prep as you can early in the day so you can be ready when guests arrive.

5. Set the table if you are having a sit-down meal, or arrange plates and utensils if you are serving appetizers or finger foods only.

6. Do last-minute things just before guests arrive, such as turning on music, lighting candles and setting out food and beverages.

7. Greet guests and make sure they are introduced if they don't know each other.

8. Cut the cake with much fanfare and a short speech of congratulations.

9. Let guests mingle and talk. Take photos and videotape. Remember that everyone will soon be going their separate ways and this is a good time to make a permanent record of high school or college friendships.

Since most graduates stay home for the summer, consider having a barbecue or party later in the summer.

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