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BACK TO What To Cook Congratulations, Graduate!

Congratulations, Graduate!

Graduating from high school or college is a significant milestone in a young person’s life. Here are some themes and planning tips to make the graduate’s party fun, memorable and special—and as easy as possible on you!

Tips For the Graduation Party

Taco or Fajita Bar: Is your graduate crazy about Mexican food? Play that up with a taco or fajita bar and have guests make their own as they come and go. Besides being a popular choice with both grad and party goers, this DIY approach to the main dish allows you to do a lot of work ahead of time, easing last-minute preparation. Use a slow-cooker to keep taco meat filling warm or fire up the grill to make sizzling steak or chicken fajitas—the fajita peppers and onions can also be grilled, freeing up valuable kitchen space for other things. Offer a variety of fresh vegetables (sliced lettuce, chopped tomatoes, minced onions and jalapeños, etc.), grated cheeses and Pace® salsas for topping the tacos and wrapping inside fajitas. (Try blending minced chipotle chiles in adobo, in sour cream for a simple and addictive topping). Have plenty of tortilla chips (if you can find ones in the graduate’s school colors, all the better!), and cheese dip for munching, and sopapillas for dessert.

Evening Dessert Open House: From make-your-own sundaes or float stations to a fire pit in the backyard for roasting marshmallows for s’mores, the options are endless for this type of party. Many desserts are easy to make ahead and freeze (bars, unfrosted cake layers, cupcakes), helping lighten the load for the host. Incorporate the graduate’s school colors by frosting cupcakes with tinted icing and setting out bowls of candy-coated chocolates. Another popular option is chocolate fondue—have assorted fresh and dried fruit (strawberries, bananas, pineapple, apricots), large marshmallows andPepperidge Farm® cookies for dipping. Check with a local rental center about a chocolate fountain for something really special!

Beverage Bars: If you’re hosting a brunch or dessert party for the graduate, think about incorporating a coffee bar theme. Hire a local coffeehouse to “cater” this portion of the party, supplying a variety of brews or teas in hot pots—some may even have a portable espresso machine for making specialty drinks. You could even make insulated cup sleeves with “Congrats Class of 2012” imprinted on them! A juice or smoothie bar is another option for brunch. For a juice bar, set up a station with fresh fruit and vegetables and a juicer and have guests make their own juice blends (post someone who knows how to operate the juicer at this station to help guests). For smoothies, supply an assortment of fresh or frozen fruit, V8® juices and yogurt and a blender to buzz them in. Have cups and straws in school colors at the station for the finished beverages.

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