Avoid graduation stress by planning ahead, seniors!


By Jen Czuba, Contributor

After getting my graduation announcements mailed to me, I started to think, “Uh, when do these go out?” So out of curiosity, I posted my question on Facebook. The response I got was, “Early April.” This got me thinking, “What else is there that I might not think of until the last minute?”
With all we have to do to finish up school and start out on the next stage of our journey, a few things that we should do might slip through the cracks. You might be prepared to send out your announcements or have your graduation outfit, but have you planned your graduation party or dinner? How do you want to celebrate with your family and friends?  If you’re like me, you’re probably procrastinating. Here are a few tips to get ready for graduation day.
If you haven’t already, take time to go by the bookstore and order your announcements and cap and gown. The announcements take won’t arrive for 10 days, so it’s better to do it now instead of later. It doesn’t take too long and will be one less thing to worry about. When you get the announcements, they come unfolded, which surprised me, so be prepared to spend at least an afternoon or an evening folding them.
Announcements should be sent out early, no later than mid-April. This way your family and friends have time to decide and plan on what they might do: join in the festivities or just send a card.  
If you have any out-of-town guests who are planning to attend, warn them in advance to book their hotel early because graduation weekend is the same as the Berkshire-Hathaway shareholders event. Rooms are filling up fast, and prices are higher than usual.
Another thing that might slip your mind is picking out an outfit. The UNO site suggests that men wear dress shirts, slacks and a tie, and women wear dresses or skirts and blouses. Whatever you wear, you want to look and feel your best. With only a few weeks left, you should browse around a few of your favorite stores now to get an idea of what you want to wear. Keep in mind that you’ll be standing outside and walking a lot. Ladies, you might want to leave your 3-inch heels at home.    
If you haven’t already, check out UNO’s graduation site (graduation.unomaha.edu). There, you will find all the basic information you need to know about the commencement ceremonies. The link also might be the easiest thing to send out to close family and friends who would like more information about your big day.
Now there’s just one last little detail you need to start thinking about: your party. It’s a bigger deal than you think. Start thinking of the basic 3 W’S : who, where and what. Don’t leave it up to your parents. You should have a say in it because it’s your party. Traditionally, the open house is most popular, but consider what fits your style best. Make sure to plan a budget. You don’t want to go into debt just because of a party, The average party, according to graduationparties.com, costs $985. If that seems too steep, consider co-hosting a party to ease the burden.   
The first “W” to worry about is who you are inviting. This may seem obvious to think about, but it’s one of the crucial parts of planning. It’s also sets up the question, “How many people do I need to accommodate for?”  
The next “W” is where. If you’re having it at your house, do you need to rent anything to accommodate your guests? Since May is a pretty packed for graduation parties, you might have a hard time finding extra tables. If that is the case, find some tables you can borrow from friends and family.
The final “W’ is what. What are you planning on having? Food can get expensive because it’s easier to think about the number of people than the price. Knowing how many people are coming is crucial. Also, plan for extra people in case your invitees add a plus-one or two or you think of inviting people by word of mouth. Next, start thinking of where you are going to get food and start shopping around for food ideas. Think of your favorite places to eat and see if they have party platters or catering deals.  
There’s a lot more to graduation than just graduating. Plus, with time winding down, it’s hard to think about anything but school work and getting everything done. Just try to plan wisely these last few weeks.  But most of all, have fun and enjoy it, because you’ve been working hard towards this goal for years. So try to get everything done without stressing grads, and congrats!