Eight steps for an easy, delicious graduation party

Parents, the days are long but the years are short, especially your high schooler’s senior year. The lead-up to graduation is a frenzy, but with our help, you can feel prepared and have fun at your senior’s graduation party. 

Here are eight ways to make your graduation party easy and delicious.

1. Pick your protein 

Pulled pork, hamburgers and hot dogs are popular graduation party proteins because they’re inexpensive. If you’re throwing a party on a budget, start with how many people you’re going to feed. This usually isn’t as many people as you invite. Some won’t attend; others will just graze as they move from one graduation party to the next. Then choose a protein you can afford for that many people. 

2. Assign a cook 

If you have a close family friend who likes to grill, ask if they’ll be your grillmaster. That keeps you free to be a good host and enjoy the celebration you and your student have earned. If you can’t imagine letting someone else take on that responsibility, take time to map out your day so you don’t forget an important step like wrapping a brisket.

3. Make sure your grill is up to the task

Is your grill broken? Is it big enough to cook for everyone? If not, borrow a friend’s grill and make sure you have it before the day of the party. You’ll want to test it at least once to make sure you don’t have any surprises like hot spots or a broken burner on party day. 

Is this a smart time to upgrade your grill to something larger and with more features? We recently cooked 40 burgers with room to spare on our Traeger Ironwood XL. A pellet grill doesn’t flare up, even when burgers start dripping, so I was able to set out sides and toppings while the burgers practically grilled themselves. Just like borrowing a grill, give yourself a week or two with a new grill so you feel confident on party day. 

4. Have extra fuel

You’d be surprised how many people run out of fuel while they’re cooking. Make sure you have an extra propane tank for your gas-fired grill or griddle. If you’re cooking on a pellet grill or smoker, make sure you have a couple of extra bags of pellets. 

5. Focus on quality over quantity

Reality check: Pork butt and burgers sound cheap and easy, but they dry out quickly. At weddings and graduation parties, you’ve surely eaten meat so dry that no amount of bbq sauce could save it. Don’t be that host.

Instead, do this to serve high quality graduation party food:

6. Use an accurate thermometer 

A digital instant-read thermometer is the gold standard when it comes to food safety. Use one that has a slim tip to ensure accurate readings in thin cuts of meat. Traeger’s version also has great battery life.

7. Follow USDA food safety recommendations 

Cook according to doneness and avoid giving your guests salmonella (food poisoning). If you need help remembering what temperature to cook to, this magnet tells you temperatures for large roasts. This colorful magnet is helpful for knowing what temperature to cook steaks and fish.

8. Serve mains and sides at the same time

If you’re worried about knowing what time your meat will be done, use the Meater+ wireless thermometer. It stays in your meat while you cook, monitoring food and grill temperature to predict how long until your food is done. We use it all the time and we’re impressed with how accurate it is. It’s especially useful when you need to make sure your meal is ready all at once. For example, when there’s less than an hour left on your pork butt, you would know it’s time to heat up your party potatoes.

The Meater+ works with any type of grill. The best part? It communicates with an app on your smartphone, so you can check on your food while you’re setting up or enjoying your party!

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