I have to admit, I had a lot of fun with this graduation party. My daughter wanted a simple party with a University of Arkansas theme. I think it turned out to be a great party, not too much, nothing over the top, just enough.

To get it all started we picked a date and sent out invites...

We sent out invitations to the graduation ceremony along with the invite to the graduation party. The graduation invites to the ceremony came from the school (standard) but we had a wonderful photographer Cindy Lee Photography take Samantha's senior portraits. She did an amazing job! Be sure to check out her website. Then we used those in the invite we created on Shutterfly and it came out great! We were very pleased.
Since we had already decided we wanted this theme before she even graduated from her high school, we planned ahead and picked up some of the decorations on our college orientation weekend down in Arkansas at a local Party City in Fayetteville.

University of Arkansas cup cooler, pin, face decals, balloons...

University of Arkansas Mints and super cool
bandannas that we used as a table decoration
We used this University of Arkansas bucket
to hold her graduation cards. Something tells me
that it will hold something completely different
in the near future. 

University of Arkansas cups, plates, napkins,
and buckets and serving plates to match
Once we had the majority of our decorations, we just needed to pick up a few other items locally and start thinking about food, tables/chairs and our set up of the party. I have a great little house, but the layout is just not conducive to a nice flowing party, soooo we had to think about setting up outside as well. 

We rented a few long tables and folding chairs locally from Weinhardt Party Rentals and it really worked out perfectly. We set the tables outside, some under a tent that we already had. Covered them with red linens and a few simple decorations and viola! 

We made sure a few tables made it under the
tent for shade during the party. 
We added red tulle to a few of the chairs 

I found these cute little jars on clearance at
Michaels, purchased white daisies to
place in the jars, added red food coloring to
 the water and tied red tulle to the handle.
We placed balloons on each table.

We placed several bottles of bubble on each table...

And finished the table off with a bit of confetti.
I wanted to have a table area dedicated to Samantha's choice in schools, so we set up a University of Arkansas display inside.

I wanted to do a banner with pictures of Samantha so we cut out Red and White
card stock and glued pictures of her at Prom, Lacrosse pics, family and senior pics
to them and hung them from the fire place mantle above the table. I laid a white table
cloth over a card table, added the bandannas, bucket and mints that I
previously picked up at Party City...

I had my two favorite senior pics from her session with Cindy Lee Photography
blown up and put them in frames on either side of the table.

Samantha wanted a "memory jar" where guests
could write their favorite memory or advice for her and
place it in the jar. I was later instructed that I would not be able
to read them all...hmmmm, that worries me a bit.  I took a simple
mason jar I picked up at Michaels added a graduation tassel,
some glittery tulle and a note with instructions for guests.

I placed a card stock pad of paper for guests to
write on and several pens on the table.

We also had the two framed pictures made into
wallets for guests to take with them.
The final touch for the table was the chalk board on the floor...

My first attempt at a Razorback Hog...
OK artist I am not, but if I do say so myself....not a bad attempt.
 For food we decided that I would make some and have some catered. We went with pulled pork...of course. No disrespect meant to the hog!

We ordered several pounds of pulled pork and spoon bread (a wonderful
combination of creamed corn/corn bread...yum!) from a local restaurant called
PM BBQ and  it was a big hit! I made several trays of texas potatoes and bbq beans.

Sorry blurry

I made little signs letting guests know which sauce
was sweet and which was spicy.

I made large veggie and fruit platters that I refilled during the party.

Found these adorable mason jar drink dispensers at Walmart and used one for
unsweet tea and the other for our home made "adult" beverage that we named
"Razor back Punch". I'd give you the recipe but it wasn't that memorable. ;)
Samantha didn't want a cake like I had done for our son when he graduated (we had his picture blown up and put it on the cake) instead she wanted cupcakes and a cookie cake. They both turned out to be a big hit. Although I could have had two cookie cakes, even the adults liked that as well. 

Cupcakes and cookie cake were from Walmart's bakery. Walmart and Sam's Club really do
a great job with cakes, cupcakes...

All in all, it really was a great party. We had an open house, guests came and went all day long. With having the food inside and most of the tables outside, it worked out well for my floor plan. There was a breeze all day so we got lucky there. I was glad that it was an open house though, almost 60 people would have been too much all at once. 

When we had decided to place the table in the front room, part of our thinking was that when guests arrived or left we could snap a picture of them with Samantha as they paused to look at the table or leave their note for her.

At the end of the day once everyone left, Samantha sat down and opened her cards...

She gave her sister a big hug after reading her card, she had tears in her eyes. Partly from what her little sister wrote in her card and partly because of the realization that she was indeed going away to school. 
Tessa is really going to miss her big sister. And Samantha...
will miss her little sister just as much. Such an emotional day,
but in a very good way. 
Samantha kept pausing to say thank you for a great party. I told her "we" did a great job. 

High five! Gosh I look like a dork in this picture! haha
It's been a great senior year, and this was the perfect way to put a bow on it all.

(partial) Family picture

I had to include this one (it's from her graduation day)
her brother Sean couldn't get off of work (new job) for her grad party
but he was certainly there in spirit!
After all the hoopla and after we cleaned up a bit, Samantha retreated to her room to read her memory jar notes. Remember, I wasn't allowed to read them all. ;) When I went up and checked on her she was sitting on her bed crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said she had just read my note. I told her I cried writing it as well, gave her a hug and sat with her for a few minutes. 

Gosh I am going to miss her!

I could fill a million of these jars with wonderful memories of my kids!