It has been a few years since I was a high school graduate, okay, more like a few decades (whatever, don't judge). The way we celebrate this huge milestone has really changed over the years.


My parents threw my open house in our backyard.  No big tent, just a nice little bar-b-q.   Nowadays many parents still host the party in their back yard, usually with a tent, and lots of expensive landscaping.  Other parents will rent out spaces like those that are used for wedding receptions.

 For more on the expense of a Graduation open house click here.

To prepare for the at-home open house my dad would mow the yard, and so the backyard looked nice.  In 2021 parents spend lots of money fixing up the deck or patio, and even remodeling the entryway of their home, plus hundreds of dollars spent on beautifying the landscaping (this process was started years before).

The food that was served at open houses, back in the day, consisted of ham, baked beans, potato salad, and a sheet cake which was more often than not decorated by an artsy neighbor. Now it is not surprising to see food trucks lined up down the street, or a portable pizza oven to make made-to-order pizza for guests, A taco bar, an all desert open house, or a catered event.

Every open house is a bit different from the other.

The expenses at an open house have skyrocketed.  Years back your biggest expense was the paper plates, napkins, and disposable silverware.  Expenses now could get crazy if you are not careful.  When our youngest graduated we had full-sized candy bars with her picture on the wrappers, M & M's with the school colors, and the Grad's initials,  huge class containers filled with all kinds of candy, napkins, and plates with the Graduates photo, themed centerpieces on the table, and 2 different fountains.  One fountain was for chocolate to dip fruit in, the other fountain was a Hidden Valley Ranch fountain, I kid you not, to dip vegetables in. Yes, the smart folks at Hidden Valley Ranch actually came out with a ranch dressing fountain.

Don't be surprised if you see a DJ or even a band at an open house, also photo booths, and popcorn machines are always a hit, with personalized popcorn bags, of course.  This is why some open houses are referred to as 'mini weddings'.

Good luck to all the Graduates of 2021.

LOOK: Here are copycat recipes from 20 of the most popular fast food restaurants in America

More From 99.1 WFMK