Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Graduation Party in a Box

Just over 40 years ago my dad was in the military, and my mom was a senior in college. My dad had completed his undergraduate studies and was pursuing a master's degree while working as an army research scientist. They were happy newlyweds, living in a Tennessee college town, expecting their first baby.
Then the army sent my dad to California. My mom had 13 credit hours left to finish her degree in special education. She had already completed her student teaching. But, online and other remote education options didn't exist back then. She withdrew from school so their little family could be together when their first baby was born. She planned to go back, but as her family grew and life progressed, the time never felt right. 

Fast forward to two years ago. My mom's eighth and last baby is an adult. The time had come. She re-enrolled at the university where she began. And a couple of weeks ago, she donned cap and gown to finish what she began! 

I am SO proud of her. She has supported her husband and all of her 8 children in our educational pursuits, while putting hers on hold. I wanted badly to be there, but since circumstances didn't work out for that, I decided to send her a graduation party in a box! (And I instructed my family who was there on how to set it all out when it arrived!)
Here she is at the tennis courts where she played on her college team. Like I said, she's pretty incredible. 

Now on to how I made a Graduation Party in a Box!

1. Candy Graduation Hats
I filled a food storage container with these cute little hats and put the place card on top, easy to set out and be displayed.  

To make the candy grad hats, you will need: 
  • Mini peanut butter cups
  • 1.5" squares of black cardstock/construction paper
  • Embroidery thread and needle
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
1. Gather materials (see list above. 
2. Stick threaded needle through center of paper square, pulling until about 2 inches remains on the other side. 
3. Push the needle back through the paper near the first hole, pulling tight (but careful not to rip the paper).  
4. Cut the thread to leave another 2 inch tail. 
5. Tie the two threads in a knot.
6. Place a loop of tape on the top of a peanut butter cup.
7. Place the the paper hat top on the tape. 

2. Diploma Cookies
Rolled Wafers (like these Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes or Piroulines) tied with bakers twine make easy and tasty edible diplomas!These yummy diplomas can be sent in a plastic food storage container or in the cannister they came in. 

3. Memory Collage
I really wanted my mom to feel her children's appreciation for her sacrifice. As you can see in this collage picture, she was there for each of us through our academic endeavors--always cheering us on! Never once did she act like it was a sacrifice; but now that I am a mom who was able to finish college, I am sure if I hadn't been able to it would be hard not to begrudge others.  All we ever felt was 100% support. 
I made this collage on, picked it up same day, and put it in a simple frame. To ship it, I wrapped  it (and the other frames I sent) in plastic. 

4. Framed Meaningful Quotes
Everyone has a story. And for every story, you can find inspirational quotes that apply. I found these three that I felt best represented my mom's story. I placed each in a frame. 
(Also pictured here: I bought some yummy regional dark chocolate to send with a "For Mom ONLY" card label attached)


5. Congratulations Sign & Other Decorations
Finally, I bought an inexpensive, but easily packable "Congratulations" sign and some festive pom-poms in my mom's alma mater's colors. I threw in some matching balloons as well. 

And it all fit in a medium flat-rate priority mail box
With family all over the country, these are second only to Amazon Prime in providing affordable gift-sending options! And from Washington to Alabama usually only takes 3 days! Amazing!


  1. Donna Jo is simply amazing! So thankful I know your family!

  2. Donna Jo is simply amazing! So thankful I know your family!

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