Planning a Senior Grad Party? I can help with that

Cathy ZielskeProducts & Classes41 Comments

Your first-born child is graduating from high school in just over three months. You:

a) Ask your husband to have his vasectomy reversed and try for Number 3.

b) Spend a few hours daily in the fetal position on the floor of said child’s room, softly moaning in pain as you rock back and forth.

c) Stop the pity party and start designing some kick ass grad party posters.

d) All of the above.

As much as I’d like to answer D, I’m going to go with C.

Last summer I made a list of products I wanted to design. I listed them on Post-It notes with deadlines for each project. I kept putting off, “Design Grad Posters.” What is it they say? Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt?

I knew what I wanted to do for her grad party: create custom printed poster boards. It was time to get to the designing.

I didn’t want to buy white boards and print out photos. I have digital skillz, so why not use them? Before I got started, I confirmed that Persnickety Prints offers larger sizes plus foam core mounting—they do—because I needed an end product in mind.

My final poster boards will be 20 x 30 inches. Not too big. Not too small. I’m starting this project now because I don’t want to get to May and then freak out that I have to scan a ton of photos for the Early Years boards. (I went digital in 2003; she was born in 1996. So, you know, math.)

There are three templates in the set, one with a spot for your graduate’s name and two collage boards. Then, there’s a fourth template, for doing this:


And. I’m. Spent.


This image, more than any other right now, induces slow blinking.

That is my baby from first grade through today. Crazy.

I designed this to be symmetrical which meant not including Kindergarten. I think I will just print out her Kindergarten photo and pair it with a shot from her senior session.

I’m still working on her other boards, but I wanted to share this early in the grad season for those parents looking for ideas.

I realize that some of you readers have been watching this girl grow up over the years. Sometimes I wonder how I rate to have this beautiful, original, soulful young woman.

I appreciate you letting me share some of her stories.

And Aidan, I deeply appreciate you letting me.





Cathy ZielskePlanning a Senior Grad Party? I can help with that

41 Comments on “Planning a Senior Grad Party? I can help with that”

  1. #2

    I took a picture of my son on his last day of high school holding a picture from his first day of kindergarten and displayed it at his graduation party. It was precious and put me into the ugly cry on my way home from picking it up.

  2. #4

    Cathy, love the collage of all her pics. These boards are going to he awesome at her party. Thanks for sharing.

  3. #7
    Jacquie Desilets

    This post made me laugh out loud and tear up just a bit all at the same time. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt? OMG, you are a riot! Where do you get this stuff from??

  4. #10
    ana roat

    Yesterday we toured the pre school my sweet Reagan will be attending in early August. Reagan is my grand daughter. How could it be that she will be starting pre school already and how could it be that her mama (my little baby) Rebekah will be 33 next week? This thing called life is happening right before our eyes…Aidan is beautiful. It’s ok to cry mama and when you’re done take bow–job well done good and faithful servant!

    Congratulations Aidan. Wishing you the very best life has to offer!

  5. #11

    My oldest graduates this year, as well. I can’t wait to see what he does next! And yet…there’s that tiny part of me who wonders where the time went…and who gave time the permission to move on!

  6. #13
    Leslie B

    I did that as well the picture AND the ugly cry!

    The best part is that I know my son was totally digging the picture. We displayed the pic on the gifts/cards/sign in table at his party.

  7. #16

    Oh, I’m so struck by how she goes back and forth from looking more like Dan and more like you. And always like her beautiful self, of course. I love these kinds of “over the years” collections, Cathy. And yes, fast blinking. That’s the price we pay for putting it all out there in front of us. The reality… they’re growing up and out and it’s all as it should be. <3

  8. #17

    Hi Cathy! Quick question about your Project Life card template at Designer digitals – is it sized for the Project Life pockets (I think the 3×4 pockets are a bit smaller than 3×4 – maybe 2.75×3.75 or something like that?), or a true 3×4? I’m losing my mind trying to print journaling cards on cardstock in just the right size! Thanks in advance!

  9. #18
    Leslie B

    I’m feeling you on all of the fetal position stuff. It’s so sad, scary and exciting all at the same time.

    Thank you for the templates! I did do pic collage posters for my son’s party last year. It was ok, but you’re stuck using their templates and don’t really have control over the number of pictures or placement. I will definitely use these for my daughter’s graduation next year!

    One thing we did with my son and friends was do a photo session with them in their cap & gowns. They turned out really cute and made great gifts for the other parents.

  10. #19
    Kathryn Benfiet

    Cathy…I love this. I did something similar for our daughter’s high school graduation and then again after she graduated from marine boot camp and came home on leave. I can so relate to the ugly cry. After our daughter left for marine boot camp, which is 13 weeks long, the only contact you have with your child are letters (the old-fashioned write and send them in an envelope with postage). I spent many days in tears, stalking the mailman for a letter from our daughter. You have raised an awesome girl and as hard as it is to let them go (I still have ugly cries when I miss our daughter so much I feel like my heart will break)…it is glorious watching them grow into adults…congratulations!!!

  11. #20
    Sarah S.

    I graduated high school in 1996… and I’m a little freaked out that kids born that year are now graduating hight school themselves.

    When I first saw your Through The Years poster, I thought… Wait! Aren’t there more grades between 1-12? Seeing them all back to back like that really shows off how few years there are between baby and young adult. My own firstborn heads to first grade next year, and I feel the black hole – time warp thing starting already. I want him to Please. Stop. Growing. Up.

  12. #21

    Thank you, I love you. My oldest girl is JUST a junior, but we start college visits next week. Gulp.

    I am SO buying these.

    Also, the ugly cry? I did that on her first day of Marching Band Camp as a high school freshman, three freaking weeks before the school year even officially started. What actually went through my mind as this (at the time) timid gun-shy girl walked toward the welcoming upper-classmen was “In just four years I’ll be abandoning her at college!”. Ugh. At least I got it out before the first day of school.

  13. #22

    The 3 x 4 card templates are true 3 x 4. And I have found that the PL pockets are tight with that size. Theyre not quite as small as you have there. Its more like 2.94 x 3.8 ish. I use to have the actual number. but then I just started squeezing them into the pockets. You can always trim just to the inside of the card. : )

  14. #24

    These are great! I have a junior, so yes, I’m having to face the prospect of my baby girl going off to college!

  15. #27

    Hey Cathy – just wanted to check. I know you’re always really good about stuff like this and offer actual text boxes instead of set dates, but I just wanted to confirm. I see that “2014” on the image and my eyes are too bad to read the rest of it. My step-daughter is a junior as well and my son a freshman, so I just wanted to make sure I could use these for any year before I rush to buy them.

  16. #31
    Omayra Ortiz

    Hey, Cathy! Are you a mind reader? I have a Senior boy at home, so we’re on the same emotional roller coaster. Holding tight for sure. Yesterday I was thinking: I hope Cathy comes up with some graduation templates. Well, yesterday was my son’s 18th bday (another crying day!) and today I found this great template. AWESOME!!! I’m buying it right away. Would you also consider making a Grad Announcement template?

  17. #32

    I should try to. I wanted to design my own and have them printed at Minted, but Minted wont accept customer designed artwork.
    Have you seen how cool the ones they have are though?

  18. #35
    Omayra Ortiz

    Thanks for the recommendation. They are pretty indeed. Good option. But I’m SURE you can top it off! 😉

  19. #36
    Amy J.


    I am one of the readers whose watched her grow up (pant, pant, pant…I’m hyperventilating).

    How in the world did this happen SOOOOO fast!?

    My head is spinning. I feel faint.

    Not just because Aidan is grown! But because my Sarah…my oldest, firstborn is about to be in that first block of the second set of six photos!!!!!!!!!!! She’s going into the SECOND SET OF SIX PHOTOS. Okay, I think I’m gonna throw up.

    My Ruby…the baby…is back in the first row still, THANK GOD…but she’s will be on the second row next year!!!!!

    I know you are SO incredibly proud of this girl of yours. I’m proud for you!!! I PRAY that my Sarah and my Ruby make it through these blocks intact, smart, beautiful and ready to take on the world just like Aidan!

  20. #39

    I am crying in the fetal position looking at those grade school photos. I have never bought any of my own kids’ school pictures. WHY DID I DO THAT? Making this about me, but really, those grad school posters are going to rock. And I am so glad you are my BFF and you will send me a template when I need it next year. SOB

  21. #40

    Im here for you. Whatever you need. I only bought those photos because i was following a SCRIPT. Who knew it would work out so well? ; )

  22. #41

    My mom did the 1st – 12th grade school portrait thing for both me and my brother (I think she might have even gotten kindergarten in there and one of those freaky shots where there’s two of me in one print, but one is just of my face profile. eek.) In any case, it’s all those 5x7s are still mounted on the wall in ‘my room’ in the house I grew up in where my parents still live. Let’s just say that I took my almost 3 year old to a baseball game at my hs alma mater this past weekend and realized it’s been over 20 years since I graduated from there. Egads. Those photos on the wall are still awesome. And I just bought the first one for my son’s wall (pre-school). :)<3

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