As a mom with 4 kiddos, 2 who have graduated High School, I have seen and hosted grad parties. I’m going to list out some of our local hot spots plus ideas. The main point, PLAN AHEAD and for the big locations, reserve NOW.
1st option: host at your home. Outside or under a tent or in your garage. All are great options weather pending. We were lucky with my son and our garage/outside party had the most gorgeous weather. We were prepared to move inside if we needed but luckily we didn’t. We used Aero Rental in Iowa City for tables and chairs. I bought tablecloths on Amazon and also bought plates, napkins, balloons and a card box all on Amazon too. We did not get a tent for over our driveway. I didn’t want the expense and our driveway is hella steep so it didn’t seem like a good idea. Our food was a Taco Truck and boy that was nice! Good food and I didn’t have to do any clean up of catering pans and trays. We had cake balls instead of cake for dessert and I put chips and salsa as centerpieces with a small succulent aloe plant. Our last little touch was water pitchers filled with yellow tulips to match the school colors.
2nd option: host your party at a restaurant. We hosted my oldest’s party at Big Grove in Iowa City with 3 of her friends. Having a group party helped with the cost of the rental and made it fun for the girls. We shared the cost of the cake’s from Costco and a Vegan cake from a local bakery. We each had drink tickets we handed to friends and family. The tickets were different colors for each senior so when it came time to pay, we knew how much each family owed. The room rental in 2019 was $2000 minimum food purchase. We picked out what appetizers we wanted for the party and the restaurant kept them coming. So with our 1/4 of the rental plus our alcohol tickets we spent just over $800. Compared that to what we spent for the party at our home (just over $1000) it was actually easier and cheaper to do the group party at the restaurant.
3rd option: host your party at a wedding venue or hotel. You will want to do some research but wedding venues can hold a lot of people or smaller intimate events. I would guess these might be more suited to a group party but it depends on what you really want for your graduation celebration.
There are other random places that work great: golf courses, U of I Athletic Hall Of Fame, churches, coffee shops, Kinnick Stadium and theaters. Think outside the box and dream up where you would want to have all your family and friends to celebrate.
This is not an exhaustive list but it is a start.