When high school graduation approached for Joe Macklin and Diane Zanner, their families decided to host one party for the Bexley High School Class of 2011 graduates...

When high school graduation approached for Joe Macklin and Diane Zanner, their families decided to host one party for the Bexley High School Class of 2011 graduates. "These two have grown up together since they were babies," said Joe's mom, Lisa Macklin of Bexley. "These two are just very good friends. We thought they would enjoy sharing their party." The families also liked the idea of splitting the cost of the party for the graduates, Lisa Macklin said. The theme for the party, which was held in the Macklin's backyard last June, came together when Lisa Macklin found an old photo of Joe and Diane eating popsicles. She included the photo on the invitation with a caption that read, "The popsicles are on us!" She and Diane's mom, Susan Zanner, coordinated the popsicle colors with the school colors for the colleges the teenagers would attend: red for Joe, who now attends Ohio State University and purple for Diane, who now attends Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Incorporating old photos and the school colors of the graduates' college choice are great ways to personalize a graduation party, said Adrianne Mellen Ramstack, owner of the Columbus event planning company, Adrianne Elizabeth. She also suggests serving the graduate's favorite food but trying to make it "interesting and fun." Scaling down the size of the food is one way to change it up, said Ramstack. "Miniature food is always fun," she said. The Macklins and Zanners served Mexican food prepared on-site by a small caterer. They decided to leave the cooking to professionals so that the adult hosts could enjoy the party, which about 250 people attended. They also set up a variety of games - corn hole, a ping-pong table and bocce ball - so guests would have something to do during the party. The party suited Joe and Diane, Lisa Macklin said. "The thing they really wanted was to celebrate with their friends and have their time to shine a little bit," she said. "They just enjoy hanging out with their friends." Entertainment options are a must, Ramstack said. Options run the gamut from yard games to rented video games to bands and disc jockeys, she said. They key is determining what type of party you want to have and making sure that the food and entertainment choices fit. Some types of food or entertainment lend themselves to a more formal party while others set a casual atmosphere, she said. Parents should take care to plan a party that reflects their child's personality, she said. "It's best to remember that this party is for your dear little grad and should reflect his or her personality," Ramstack said. "You can still have some fun elements for the adults, but the main focus should be celebrating your graduate in the style he or she would appreciate."

Photos by Joe Maiorana