Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party

Graduation from high school or college is a once in a lifetime event. Our son graduated from high school this year so I really wanted his party to be a memorable event. And, it was not only for him but also for his awesome friends. I am excited to share all of the details of his Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party that we hosted a few weeks ago. Plus, you might get to know a little bit about my son!

The Table for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

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Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party

This is one of my larger posts because this was such a big party and I have so many pointers to share. Grab a glass of wine and find a comfy chair! 🙂

Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

The Theme for this Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party

One of our son’s passions is exotic cars. He actually started a very successful company where he takes care of exotic cars and some owner’s full collections. His services are very sought after! He has also raced some of our cars in the local area here often. Hence, the racing theme! The idea was that we and our guests were helping “race” him into his future. And, I loved the idea of using black and white since this was a party for a guy and his friends.

Table Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

Black table cloths and white chairs worked perfectly for the color theme. The racing flags tied it all together. I just laid them flat on the table and it added quite a bit of impact. For the accent color, I chose green to tie in the team colors of CSU where our son will be attending in the fall.

Table Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

Since this party was for my guy, I steered away from flowers for the centerpieces. These potted faux grasses from Ikea were perfect! Here in Colorado, the afternoons can be quite windy, so I couldn’t have anything that would cause a mess if it blew over.

Table Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

Since the party would go into the evening, I added these simple cylinder glass vases with white floating candles. The water in the vases helped weight the table cloths and flags down as well…bonus. This was a very cost effect element as I bought the smaller vases from the Dollar Store. Then, the floating candles were the finishing touch. They were easy to buy in bulk through Amazon.

Table for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

It was important to me to keep the look sleek and clean. To carry the theme throughout the rest of the yard and serving areas, I was sure to incorporate the flags in multiple other areas.

Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

Since our party was in the backyard, I wanted to have our guests come through our back gate rather than the front door. With that being said, I lined the left side of our driveway with shepherd’s hooks filled with simple arrangements and small racing flags. Opposite of those, we placed white stations and rope to help guide our 70 guests into the back yard.

Walkway for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
Walkway for ourBlack and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

I placed several other arrangements throughout the yard for added flair.

Decor for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Centerpiece - Home with Holliday

And, how perfect are these white gerber daisies with our theme?!

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Flowers- Home with Holliday

The Food

For the appetizers, I put together a couple of charcuterie boards. This provided our guests with a large variety of snacks to chose from, especially the kids.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Buffet Table - Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Appetizers- Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Buffet Table - Home with Holliday

For dinner, we did all of the cooking. Crazy…right?! Actually, it is really just as easy to cook for 20 as it is for 70. You just have to make more. Based on that, I made sure to choose menu items that were simple and could be made ahead or prepared earlier in the day of the event.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Food Table - Home with Holliday

Considering that we were entertaining such a large group, we decided to smoke and serve pork tenderloins and pre-marinated tri-tip beef sirloins (both from Costco). My husband could start on that process very early in the day and just let them go.

Food for ourBlack and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

Additionally, we grilled several batches of a variety of sausages. This helped offer our friends and family a smorgasbord of meats. There was something for everyone!

Food for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

For the sides, I served two fresh and easy recipes. They were not only easy to make in bulk but they were great for making ahead. What goes better with grilled pork and sausage than Coleslaw?! Serving my famous Tangy Garlic Coleslaw was a no-brainer. You can find the recipe and the story of how it came to be HERE.

Coleslaw for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

My mother, who is an epic entertainer/hostess (I learned everything from her!!), helped me with the other side dish. Her Southwest Black Bean and Corn Salad was so fresh and easy to make. Plus, it is a very colorful dish. I will share the recipe very soon!

Food for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

There was an additional side dish that was requested by our son for him and his friends…Mac & Cheese…go figure! It was a lot of work, but it can be made ahead, and then heated up just prior to the party. There wasn’t even a spoonful left. I prepared my own version of this RECIPE.

Food for our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday

A little side note…when serving large groups you need oversized containers for serving food. While it might be tempting to use large foil containers (which is great if you just want to throw it all away after the party), I recommend renting the serving ware for an added touch of elegance.

It certainly helped elevate the appearance of the buffet, especially since we did all of the cooking. If you live in the Denver area, my go-to is Distinctive Tabletop Rentals.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Buffet - Home with Hollida

When you have a yard full of teenagers, a dessert table is a must! For ours, I made sure to stay with the black and white theme which was quite easy, actually. Those that know me well know that baking is NOT my thing, so I hired out most of what we served. Fortunately, black and white mini bundts cakes and themed cookies did the trick. Plus, the cookies were a great “take-with” treat for the kids.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Desserts - Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Desserts - Home with Hollida
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Desserts - Home with Holliday

My daughter helped build this oreo tower. So much fun! It was a big hit with the kids…

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Desserts - Home with Holliday

A party is not a party without drinks! Because we were hosting so many people, we decided to feature a hosted bar. This also protected us from any of the teenagers hoping to dip into the alcoholic beverages. 😉

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Bar - Home with Hollida

A tip from this hostess…be sure to display the selection of what you are offering on the bar so your guests are clear about you are serving.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Bar - Home with Hollida

These disposable stemless wine glasses helped make clean up a breeze! Another special touch with regard to the drinks you provide is to serve flavored water. For this function, I sliced up one cucumber and then added in a large handful of fresh mint from my garden. So easy and flavorful and you can keep adding water as it gets consumed.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Drinks - Home with Holliday

A few other details of our Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party

One of the key elements that made hosting such a large group more accommodating was to spread out all of our patio furniture into our yard. Not only did it create lovely sitting areas throughout our yard, but it helped clear the patio for the serving tables. Additionally, it helped facilitate our large number of guests and keep all of the areas uncrowded.

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party Drinks - Home with Holliday

One of the funnest parts of the party!

If you are not totally up to speed with these parties for the kids, “photo walls” are becoming an essential element of a party. It is all about the selfies and the backdrop! Our son was adamant that his backdrop should be a fabulous car. So, he asked a great client of his to loan us his Rolls Royce Dawn Black Badge and he was happy to oblige.

Isn’t that the most brilliant backdrop for a son like mine?!? The kids really had a lot of fun with it!

Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
Black and White Outdoor Graduation Party - Home with Holliday
A few of his very close friends!

Shew! That was a big post but, hopefully, you got some good ideas if you have a graduation party to host in the future. It is so surreal that our son has wrapped up high school and is moving onto college. He is a kind and gentle soul that I miss beyond words. If you would like to see the details of his 18th birthday dinner party, click HERE.

I would love any advice you have as to how to deal with this difficult but exciting transition. I can use all the help I can get!

All photos are by Jennifer Rettig of Rettig+Co.


14 COMMENTS

  1. Linda | 24th Jun 19

    You throw the best parties! I love the black and white theme, it really does pack a punch. Everything looked well planned out and it looked like a wonderful party. My husband was born and raised in the Denver area and we have been in Northern California for the last 30 years. We don’t miss the weather.

    • Holliday Johnson | 24th Jun 19

      Hi Linda! You made my day with your kinda comments! We have had a very unusual start to summer with regard to the weather. Apparently, it is finally supposed to dry out this week. 🙂

  2. Loren | 24th Jun 19

    Wonderful party. The decor is beautiful.

    • Holliday Johnson | 24th Jun 19

      Thank you so much, Loren. Our son was reluctant to have a party but, in the end, he was really happy with it!

  3. Julie Briones | 24th Jun 19

    This is AMAZING! What a lovely party you gave your son, Holly! Love the simple elegance that ‘packed a punch’ with the theme! Congrats to you and your son!

    • Holliday Johnson | 24th Jun 19

      Thank you, my friend! We had so much fun and my son really enjoyed himself! XO

  4. Meegan | 25th Jun 19

    I really like how you carried out the theme. From the floral arrangements to the deserts, it was very nice. And what a way to celebrate your son who is so talented!

    • Holliday Johnson | 25th Jun 19

      Thank you so much, Meegan! Finding a theme for a guy party was harder than I thought! 😉

  5. Linda Johnston | 25th Jun 19

    Looks like you had fun celebrating this milestone for your son and you. Beautiful. I liked the flags and greenery in the hanging jars. A new idea for me.

    • Holliday Johnson | 25th Jun 19

      Thank you so much, Linda. We really had a great time. I use the hanging jars all the time!! I appreciate your kind words.

  6. Barbara Chapman | 25th Jun 19

    I absolutely LOVE everything you had for your son’s graduation party, Holly!!! I think he is going to do quite well in business school these next four years… Another Chip Gaines, I’d imagine. If the Rolls Royce says anything! 😉 Plus I think he learned a lot from Mom and dad, too. <3

    Enjoy this last summer with your son at home and yes, fall will be bittersweet but thank heavens for cell phones, texts and email. Plus visits for football games will probably be in order, too.

    Hugs and best wishes to your son as he heads into this next chapter,
    Barb 🙂

    • Holliday Johnson | 28th Jun 19

      You are too sweet Barbara! I am so excited for him, albeit bittersweet as you said. 🙂

  7. Michelle | Thistle Key Lane | 29th Jun 19

    This may be the best theme for a graduation party I’ve seen! love it. contrats to your son. Thanks so much for sharing your post on Tuesday Turn About. Pinning for inspiration.

    • Holliday Johnson | 30th Jun 19

      Awww. You are so sweet to say that! I am so delighted by how it is being received! Have a great weekend, Michelle!

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