How to arrange a safe party for your graduate

The tune of Pomp and Circumstance will echo in gymnasiums and across football fields in coming weeks as high school and college students ceremoniously walk across a stage dressed in a colored gown to claim a diploma.

And as soon as the last graduates toss their caps in the air, it’s time for the celebration ceremonies to begin. Many families opt to host parties for their graduates. Here are some party-planning safety tips to make sure the occasion is a good time for the graduate, your family and your guests:

* Home or rental. You can host the party at your own house — in the garage, the backyard or inside. Make sure you store anything that can get in the way to help prevent guests from tripping and falling. Designating an area to set up chairs or tables for people to congregate will help you limit visitors to certain areas of the house and property. If you’re planning for an outdoor party and the weather takes a turn for the worse, be sure to have a back-up location for people to escape to.

If you decide to rent a park shelter or a community building, check with the venue’s building manager and your insurance agent to make sure you’ll be covered for the time of your party if something were to happen to a guest or the property.

* Alcohol or juice. Alcohol can be a tricky topic when it comes to graduations – especially college graduations where the graduate and her friends probably have reached legal drinking age. If you plan to serve alcohol and are renting a shelter or community building, check your rental agreement to see what you are allowed to serve. And no matter if you’re having the party at your house or at a different location, check the laws in your state to determine if you’ll be held responsible if an intoxicated guest gets into an auto accident after leaving the party. You may want to set up safe rides if this could become a problem. Also consider that high school graduations probably will have many minors attending, so it might not be a good idea to have alcohol readily available.

* Hot or cold. If you’re serving food, keep a close eye on how long food is sitting out, especially if there are food items that are supposed to be kept cold or hot. Having plenty of heating trays on hand or ice chests will help you to prevent food from spoiling early. Also label items that might contain nuts or other serious allergens, and make sure people serving food items know what’s in the food in case guests with food allergies ask.

* Establish a guest list. Party crashers can cause problems at graduation parties – from eating the food and drinking the alcohol to disrupting the party. Know who you’re inviting, who the graduate is inviting and consider contacting local law enforcement if you do have people crashing the party.