Before Your Grad’s Ship Sets Sail…a 3P Grad Party How-To!

Posted on May 18 2014 - 8:22am by Jessi Meehan

…10 Tips to a Stress-Free Catered Event!

Before we begin: a little bit of “Backstory”!  We recently received a comment from one of our readers, Shauna, who’s about to organize a graduation party for her daughter Ana. In her comment, Shauna said:

“Loved this post. That reminds me that I have a college graduation for my daughter Ana in mid-June. The college is in Seattle, we are having a brunch in a private room at a beautiful waterfront restaurant for 30. My daughter was in CREW, where she lettered. I would like some suggestions for a fun, easy and inexpensive nautical theme from 3P and your readers. I have a budget of approximately $500 and would appreciate your suggestions for polishing this event with ideas on decor, gift table, centerpiece, and party favors. As well as tips on organizing with our venue. “

 (Here’s Ana and her Crew Team!)

Well Shauna, 3P is excited for both you and for Ana. This also gives our readers an opportunity to brain-storm a Crew-Themed graduation celebration from afar!

AHOY, 3P readers! We would really like your ideas and suggestions so we can all work on this together interactively.

Shauna actually headed out to her venue this past week, with our checklist in hand! The venue looks AMAZING, and we’re really looking forward to getting our next update from her! Check out the venue and our tips to Shauna:

venue1 venue2 venue3


3P Basics, Let’s Get Started! 10 Tips for a Stress Free Catered Event: a few questions for the catering manager or restaurant manager where you’re hosting, so that there are no unpleasant surprises.

1. Request Ocean View seating if possible. If not secure, find out exactly where your party will be seated.

2. Ask about seating. Does the room have round tables or banquet tables? Be sure to confirm floor plan, as well as request a gift table as guests enter the room.

3. What decor and centerpieces do they have available for your use? Ask if they charge for them.

4. When planning your menu, ask permission to bring in a graduation cake or if they can order one for you. This is a great addition to theming your party and is often a cost effective dessert option.

5. What colors of linens are they providing?

6. Who is your contact (get their cell number!) on the day of, and what time can they let you into the room to set up?

7. Billing – With 30 people attending, a set confirmed menu with pre-negotiated prices is always the safest route. (Remember to have menu options for Vegans, Vegetarians, and Gluten Free eaters!)
– Are there any extra service fees for additional labor or room charges?
– Are there any food or beverage minimums?
– Is gratuity included? Often with a party of this size, gratuity of 18% is included. If so, additional tip is not necessary.

8. Beverage Plan – This can be pricey and uncomfortable for everyone involved if guidelines are not predetermined. Also, please be sure to include responsible choices: If drinking is encouraged, be sure that safe transportation or designated drivers are provided.
-Try to have restaurant include soft drinks, water, coffee, and teas in your catering package.
– If alcoholic beverages are available for your guests, your choices are:
a. An open bar, which you can cap the amount with the restaurant.
b. Have guests responsible for purchasing their own alcoholic drinks.
c. Pre-determine wines or drink selections and pre-order to be served.

9. When are payments due for your event and what payment options are available?
– A down payment is usually required to hold a reservation of this size. However, we recommend if possible, that payment is not paid in full before your event.

10. Get it in writing and read the fine print!
– After all negotiations, when your menu and the plan are finalized…it’s vital that you receive confirmation or catering agreement that both parties sign and have in hand. Be sure to bring that with you the day of just in case!


Now that we have all of the technical goodies out of the way…stay tuned for the fun stuff as we create a Nautical/Crew themed celebration for Ana!


We’ll feature decor ideas, favor plans, centerpiece creations and more! We can’t wait to hear back from Shauna on her progress!

What ideas do you have for Shauna? Float them to us in a comment below, or on our Facebook page HERE!