With spring around the corner, many special celebrations are about to be be planned to mark graduations from high schools, colleges and universities. Family and friends from near and far will be gathering to celebrate this epic milestone together. If you are putting together a party to celebrate a loved one’s graduation, remember that Swan Manor is an ideal venue for your event. Our spectacular estate (manor house, carriage house ballroom and manicured grounds) is just a short drive from Charlotte. We have the space and the experience to help you throw an unforgettable event.

For inspiration to get started, check out the cool party theme ideas from Purple Trail:

High School Graduation Party Activities: Karaoke

Do you love to sing? Celebrate high school graduation with close friends at a nearby karaoke place or purchase a karaoke machine and celebrate at home.

High School Graduation Party Activities: Caricature Portraits

Hire a caricature artist for your high school graduation party. Friends and family will love having their portraits drawn. You can even have the artist do a group portrait so you have a unique keepsake of your high school graduation party.

High School Graduation Party Activities: Murder Mystery Graduation Party

Celebrate high school graduation with costumes, suspense, and a murder to solve by hosting a graduation murder mystery party.

 High School Graduation Party Activities: Backyard BBQ

Hold a backyard BBQ and invite all of your loved ones to celebrate your high school graduation while enjoying nice weather, good food, and good company. Spice up your high school graduation BBQ with favorite family recipes or cater your event for easy cleanup! Check out Purple Trail for more

Perfect Family Photos

When was the last time you had your loved ones together in one gorgeous setting? If it has been a while, you need to capture your reunion in pictures. Take your own photos, bring a photographer with you, or we can recommend individuals we have worked with for weddings, graduations and milestone birthdays. Our stunning grounds boast a variety of trees and flowers to add natural beauty to your images. Our picturesque pond (complete with swans) makes a gorgeous photo backdrop.

Whether you are an amateur photographer or a pro, the following tips from digitalphotographyschool.com are excellent to remember:

Never select all of the focus points for portraits, pick one.

When you pick the autofocus option that allows the camera to select focus points, you are doing your portraits a terrible disservice. This feature of a camera is usually designed to pick whatever is closest to the lens and focus there. In some cases, like with my 1DS Mark III, the camera will choose a cluster of focus points and make a “best guess” based on averaging the distance between all of the chosen points. Using one focus point gives you, the photographer, ultimate control.

Always focus on the eyes.

The eyes are the windows to the soul, and should be the focal point of any good portrait. Not only are the eyes the most important part of a good portrait, but they are the sharpest element on the face and should be left that way. When you are shooting with a wide aperture value focused on the eyes, the lens’s bokeh will aid in softening the skin as well.

Learn the sunny ƒ16 rule.

Why? So you have a baseline for proper exposure in your mind to work with if no other tools are present. The sunny ƒ16 rule states that on a sunny day, with your aperture value set to ƒ16, your shutter speed will be the inverse of the current ISO speed. For example, if your camera is set to ISO 100, and your aperture value is ƒ16, your shutter speed will be 1/100th of a second. On a cloudy day (or when in the shade) you simply use ƒ8 instead. If you own either an incident light meter, or gray card use either for the most accurate exposure instead. (Note: the procedure for metering exposure with a gray card is not the same as a custom white balance.) Additional details at Digital Photography School

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Delicious Celebration Foods

There are many great catering companies we have had the pleasure of working with over the years. We are happy to make recommendations, along with cake vendors, florists, caterers and more to make the most of your graduation celebration. Or, if you prefer to organize your own potluck style get-together to enjoy family recipes, that is an excellent option too. Our kitchen is available if you’d like to prepare your culinary delights on-site.

Bonappetit.com has an article on outdoor party foods you might want to check out. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Tomato, Onion and Roasted Lemon Salad

Sugared, roasted lemons are edible from rind to flesh and give this salsa-like mix a bracing jolt of sourness.

Mexican Corn Salad

The only thing better than Mexican corn on the cob is Mexican corn off the cob. This riff on esquites goes heavy on the cotija and lime.

Pomelo Salad with Chile, Lime, Peanuts and Coconut

A palate cleanser packed with sweet, sour, and salty flavors; taste and tweak the seasonings as you go. Get more menu ideas at Bon Appetit

Between our stately manor house, carriage house ballroom and manicured grounds, the graduation party of your dreams is possible at Swan Manor. Contact us today to schedule a meeting and tour. Call 704-776-2530 or use the contact form on the site and we’ll get back to you.