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How to Create a Popcorn Bar for Your Graduation Trunk Party

Poppin' Grads: How to Make a Popcorn Bar for a Graduation Trunk Party

What's more exciting than celebrating a grad who is heading off to college? Well, it might be a little sad for parents as they get ready to say goodbye but they're so proud. Their kids will be stepping out in the world, away from home for the first time, and are about to discover who they are, what they love and what they will become. That seems like a lot of pressure but there's time for all that. First we need to give them an amazing send off.

A graduation trunk party, in theory, involves guests filling the student's car trunk with all the things they'll need for dorm life. Think towels, bedding, toiletries, cleaning supplies and so on. In practice, the "trunk" is more symbolic and the party takes place at home or a restaurant. The useful gifts are still very much welcome but it's mostly a party with food, drinks and lots of well wishes.

How to Start

Print up a cute invitation and send it out to everyone you want to invite. Online templates can let you get very creative with lots of personalization. Or just use generic invitations. The important part is letting your guests know where and when and that it's a going off to college party. That will help them to know what kinds of gifts to bring.

How to Decorate

Start with a large table and add a tablecloth. This can be a neutral color or a school color. You can also find disposable graduation specific tablecloths online.

Balloons are always fun but can be time consuming to fill. Instead try adding bunting and or a banner to the wall behind the table. If you know the colors of the chosen college, you can use those. But blue and gold tend to be commonly used graduation colors and you can find plenty of decorations in those tones.

Sprinkle the tablecloth with festive confetti and other graduation decor. We love these little graduation cap boxes and cupcake toppers. All are easily found online or at party supply stores.

Setting Up The Trunk

If you're hosting the party outdoors and have an actual car trunk to use, that can be fun. But for those celebrating indoors, you can use a symbolic trunk or even moving boxes that guests can fill with gifts.

Gift Ideas

Guests may reach out to ask what kinds of gifts would be appreciated. Let them know that your grad will likely be living on their own for the first time so they need practical items plus things to make them comfortable in their space. Bedding and towels are definitely needed. Toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, razors, cooking and kitchenware items like mugs, plates, pots, toasters. And don't forget cleaning supplies and even storage containers for what are likely to be small spaces.

Want to set them up with a dorm-ready movie kit? Check out our microwave popcorn popper (every dorm has a microwave!); our fun enamel bowls (holds popcorn, and also can double as a bowl to eat other snacks while they're studying); and our popcorn kernel sampler (with plenty of delicious, and healthy, popcorn snack supplies).

What to Serve

This is the fun part of any party, right? You can go all out and cater a lunch, of course, but whether you offer actual food or just drinks and snacks, the snacks are very important. Set out a cooler or tub of ice and fill it with water bottles and different flavored sodas. Remember that many of the guests will be young so we suggest avoiding putting out alcohol. The adults, of course, can indulge separately. Our favorite and universally loved treat is popcorn. We pop a variety of our different kernels and fill bowls and jars with them. We even made a batch of our blue popcorn (find the recipe here) to go with the graduation theme.

The little black grad boxes are great to use as take home gifts. Fill them with popcorn, candy or other little treats.

We love making cupcakes instead of a large cake. They're easy to bake, easy to decorate and make adorable individual servings. We used a vanilla base and vanilla frosting but colored half of it blue. Top with popcorn and little graduation hat toppers for an irresistibly cute touch.

Finally, don't forget to take lots of photos and videos. Send your guests home with treats, post the photos and give your grad an amazing send off. And don't worry, they'll be home soon on break and probably with their laundry. 

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