Need Advice on Planning a Open House/going Away to College Party

Updated on May 05, 2010
B.H. asks from Detroit, MI
8 answers

I would like any suggestions on planning a going away/dorm warming party for my niece. she was accepted to Eastern Michigan so she won't be going too far. She is really excited about the idea of living in a dorm and getting away from home. Her mom is pretty much tapped out for cash even though they did qualify for some financial aid in the form of student loans.
I suggested a party and maybe register for stuff that one might need living in a dorm.

Has anyone planned or attended such a party? Is it not proper to ask for money? I was thinking of a backyard barbeque type of party.
Any suggestions Please!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

When I graduated from high school everyone had open house parties. You could get the invitations along with your graduation announcements from the school. If it's not straight after high school then just make it a "going away to college" party. We had it in the backyard and had like a barbecue/buffet meal set up with fried chicken and lots of salads, chips&dip, rolls, desserts, and we had a big cake. I knew some people who rented a huge grill and made bbq chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs. Also, a few people had a pig roast, which was really different and delicious! We mostly invited lots of family, similar to a wedding guest list. Plus I invited my friends from school. The younger guests probably won't bring a gift unless they are really close friends. Most of my family gave money or a practical gift like a blanket. I don't think there's anything wrong with registering for gifts, just make sure it's all stuff related to dorm life. The college website probably has a checklist of items she will need. I wouldn't ask for money as a gift, people can make that choice themselves and honestly, most will because it's much easier. Good luck to your niece, going away to college is an irreplaceable experience!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

Me and my sisters all had going away parties. Like you we did outside party. Had food and drinks etc. People just always brought a gift or a card with money but if you are worried people won't get that this is the kind of party you could right something on the invitation like "She will be a poor college student so anything to help get her on her feet would be greatly appreciated." Also with my party we had a table set up in front of the food table that had a big poster board with pictures of me from a baby up to senior year of high school. Also on that table was a basket for people to put any cards in.

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answers from Chicago on

I have friends that have given a "trunk" party. I think that is what it is called. One invite had a picture of a trunk on it with some blankets and stuff. The inside said that she was going away to college and come help pak her off or something like that. Some people brought gifts and some didn't. But she did end up with a lot of stuff to use in the dorm.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think a backyard BBQ party is appropriate. As long as it isn't IN ADDITION to a high school graduation party. One or the other.

As far as putting ANYTHING on the invitations like ("She will be a poor college student so anything to help get her on her feet would be greatly appreciated.") or registering for items, I don;t think that's appropriate at all. If people ask you could suggest something or a gift card from BBB or Target, etc.

Seriously, I think people with at least one firing neuron in their brain will give a gift of some sort. People don't need (or want) to be told what to bring/buy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I think I would refer to it as her "go away" party...depending on everyone's humor, of course.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

We had a great party for our daughter when she was graduating from High school. It was hosted by all of her grandparents. We had stadium cups printed that said "Adios (high school name) , Hola (her college)". We served Mexican food and I hung up Tshirts from her new college, I placed her acceptance letter in a frame (and all of her other acceptance letters in plastic sleeves in a book) and had a big board with all of her Awards from her senior year on display.

When people asked what she needed, we told them gift cards to Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, The Container Store and Lands End. (all of these stores were close to the town our child would be attending school). This way our child could purchase whatever she needed once she got up there. She is over 2000 miles away so we did not want to ship it all up there.

Many people just gave her cash, checks or those Visa gift cards. Very few gave her an actual gift. I know that some of these stores will let you register, so she just needs to check on that.

Have a blast and take lots of photos!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

I don't think you will need to request money or make a registry... at least on my side of the state. :-) For my graduation party, and most of those I went to, almost every card had cash in it. I got pretty darn close to $1000. My relatives, my track coach, my friend's parents, all gave me a little bit that added up quick. Don't forget, if she filled out the FAFSA and they are a low income family, the PELL grant has a max of around $6000 for a year now. She should definitely qualify for some. There is no application for it, it's automatic and if she didn't get it, she should call Eastern's financial aid office.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Little Rock on

I'm planning the same thing for my daughter. She's going to register at Target, Wal-Mart, etc. A lot of people feel gift cards are impersonal, but don't want to invest in something that won't be used. I have attended showers where they had a "money tree". A decorative table top tree with paper clips attached to leaves for putting money in. She has her tuition covered, but is needing a laptop. We're calling ours her MacBook Tree :) You could have a Tuition Tree! You can even leave a sign in book with the tree so everyone can let the recipient know who the "donations" are from if they so desire.

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