Eighth-grade graduates sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Parents make a big deal of kindergarten and elementary graduations, and later they host big high school celebrations. But it's also great to reward middle schoolers for making it through, and a fun way to do that is to throw a party for them and their peers. Make it different from a birthday party or July 4 barbecue--celebrate the occasion with a fun, more formal meal and then let the kids enjoy outdoor activities and a movie.
Ask a Crowd
Invite more kids than usual. Especially if other graduation parties are going on at the same time, you may have to invite 15 guests to get 10. It's not really a graduation party if only three or four people show up. Two helpful tips: Invite enough adults to help chaperone--it's nice to have at least one grownup on hand for every five kids. And don't invite a few of the kids to stay overnight. That's a sure way to create hard feelings.
Mail or e-mail invitations to let kids and parents know about the party. Middle schoolers are too grown up for cute preprinted invites--use something cool and imaginative. You can design your own invitations using free graduation graphics from websites such as Hellasmultimedia.com. Make sure the invitation specifies the beginning and ending time of the party. If you want the dress to be a little fancier than usual, mention that as well.
No Cutesy Decor
It's your choice whether to decorate for the party--most middle schoolers concentrate more on socializing than decor. If you decide to dress up the place, you don't have to use kitschy theme decor like cardboard mortarboards taped to the wall.. Make the place festive with streamers, balloons and flowers--things that please all generations, including the one in the middle.
Fun, Fancy Meal
Serve a sit-down dinner with fancy place settings. Graduation is a special day, so why not let the kids feel special? It's fun to have adults and siblings dress as wait staff and serve the kids in courses. Get away from pizza and burgers for this nice meal. You don't have to spend a fortune on good cuts of meat--try chicken, veggies and mashed potatoes; lasagna, salad and garlic bread; or homemade mac and cheese.
Games and Movie
After dinner provide Wii games, ping-pong and air hockey. Introduce games that may be new to some kids--think badminton, croquet or shuffleboard. Middle schoolers mostly have outgrown organized party activities, but some--like treasure hunts--can still be fun. Show a movie to end the festivities, and serve candy, drinks and popcorn.