I love spring! The earth is coming back to life after a season of rest. Families are planning summer vacations and kids are looking forward to sleeping in and no homework. Amid all these plans, spring also boasts a host of celebrations: Easter, graduations, confirmations, Mother’s day, and more.
I have worked my entire adult life in higher education, and, as a result, experience graduation every year. In fact, in my previous role, I planned the graduation ceremony for my university. I loved it! To celebrate the accomplishment of hard work is amazing, but it always made me super excited to celebrate young people commencing another phase of life. My kids are grown, so not only have I planned celebrations for work, but I have also planned them for my family.
Planning celebrations is stressful, but sometimes it’s our invitation piles that can overwhelm us. As a college professor, I get my share of invites ever year. Over the years, I have learned a few things to take the stress out of the planning and pile of invitations, and I’d like to share them with you.
- Remember the purpose. Whether you are planning or attending, remember the purpose of the event. Many spring events are celebrations of people’s hard work, faith, or vocations. Celebrating the milestones of life is just as important as helping in the struggles.
- Make lists. Write it down. Whether I am planning or getting gifts and cards ready, I make a list of what, what, where, and when. It keeps me focused.
- Know your limits. We all have limited supplies of time and energy. Look at what needs to be done and where you need to go and then make decisions about what stays on your list and what goes. The next two ideas stem from knowing your limits.
- Ask for help. When my kids graduated high school, I knew my limits. I couldn’t possibly deal with the food and attend to my guests appropriately; It would be too overwhelming. I called in reinforcements. My sisters did all the cooking and taking care of the food. I took pictures and visited with the guests. I was able to enjoy and celebrate with my kids.
- Measure the quality of your presence. Going to a celebration out of a sense of obligation when you are overwhelmed or have other commitments isn’t giving that person quality presence. I often get handfuls of invites for student celebrations. No matter the relationship I have with the student, I do not attend the personal celebration. First, I don’t want to pick favorites. Second, and more importantly, by that time I am on my last leg of energy and just want to go home and not talk to anyone. I have opted to visit personally with each of the students the week before graduation, wishing them well and presenting them with a hand-written card of congratulations. They get a quality interaction that is much more meaningful than a 5-minute pop-in at a super busy family and friends event.
- Give simply. We often get caught up in giving the ‘perfect’ gift. In most cases, it truly is the thought that counts. If all you can come up with some cash, trust me, graduates appreciate every penny!
I hope these tips help relief some of the stress. Remember, we are all struggling to make it all happen. Do the best you can with what you have in the moment and don’t stress having the perfect celebration or gift. Keep is simple. Keep it intentional.
Contributed by Liz Hunt