Shutterfly Graduation Party for Colleen--Inspiration from the Smallest Things

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This post is part of a campaign with Shutterfly and LooksiSquare.  All opinions are entirely my own.

I was lucky enough to be invited to check out some of the new products from Shutterfly for graduation season,  so I rounded up Colleen, my favorite graduating High School Senior, and started having fun.

Colleen, in addition to inspiring wild red-hair envy, is one of the most wonderful teens I've ever met.  Smart, generous, kind, and a gifted athlete and Irish dancer.  She always impresses me with the way she takes care of the smaller kids at the dance school, and how graciously she interacts with adults.  I love having her around as a role model and friend to my children, and was honored to create a graduation party for her.

It all started with the new invitation designs from Shutterfly.  The bold, clean graphic design immediately caught my eye;  I loved how it incorporated a creative design element by turning the 1 in 2014 into a "Class Of" banner.  That one small detail was the jumping-off point for the entire party design.

You'll notice that same banner shape repeated in quite a few places through the party; that shape, along with the school colors used in the invitation, were the unifying elements in the design.

A great big balloon is always a welcome, festive addition to any party.  And this one was made even more perfect by adding a giant golden yellow graduation tassel and a great big, sparkling 2014.  

Rather than make an elaborately decorated cake, I decided to try my hand at a naked cake.  I'm not a big fan of icing, anyway, and always end up scraping it off, so I loved it.

The cake topper was an easy DIY project and was actually made using one of the extra Shutterfly graduation announcements!  It doesn't get anymore perfectly matched to the party theme than that!

I played with the yellow school color by picking it up for one of my major flavors: lemon.  The cake was a lemon cake, with a strawberry lemonade filling.  And man oh man, was it delicious.  And easy.  I'm totally digging this naked cake thing.

I want to mention an important party-throwing tip here:  if you're throwing a small party, use a small table!  Just a few treats look perfect on this slim side table, but if were on even a 4' folding table, the display would look awfully sparse.  Get creative, use chairs, stools, crates, and use unconventional items instead of tables, too.  It looks gorgeous, and uses what you already have in the house.

this was such an easy event to pull together.  No elaborate cakes or cookies--but it still looks special and custom.  These little chocolate graduate caps were so fast and easy to make, and they look absolutely adorable on top of the super-simple hat-shaped cake stands I made.

Cookie diplomas were also a snap to make (tutorials for both coming up soon!).  The gumpaste wax seals turned out perfectly, and added such an elegant edible touch.

The Colleen banner used that same pennant shape inspired by the graduation announcement.

As did the mini-bunting on the cake stand.

And the nape tag on the embellished gift bag, too.  Little things like the repetition of a shape really pull everything together beautifully.

And speaking of the gift bag, here's what was inside!  One of my favorite high school graduation presents was a photo mug that two girls I used to babysit gave me.  What better way to remember a sister or a favorite friend as you head off to college than with a mug? 

 I still have that mug that Courtney and Janell gave me--and now they're all grown up and heading to graduate school and getting married.  I use it to hold my pens and I see it and smile every day.

Freshly squeezed homemade lemonade was the perfect beverage choice, of course, with some fresh strawberries for garnish (or snacking).

I used cut-out elements from extra announcement cards again to embellish the striped straws.

See?  Cut right out of there.

One of the cool new household products Shutterfly offers is a photo table runner.  When I saw this design, I knew it was perfect for showcasing lots of pictures of high school friends and memories, and providing the perfect spaces for friends and family to write well-wishes.  

It may be a while until Colleen has a dining table on which to use this table runner, but in the meantime, it made a fabulous party decoration, and it'll look great hanging up in her dorm room next fall!

Congratulations, Colleen!  We're all so proud of you!

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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