Whether it’s A-Level exam results on 18th August, GCSEs on 25th August or uni graduation over the summer that have got you or your children on tenterhooks, we’ve had our heads down working on three ways to celebrate: party ideas, days out and, of course, presents! We’ve divided ours by their favourite subject, but you could combine a few of each for the ultimate school, college or uni graduation soirée!
Theme your get-together around a great work of literature or their favourite book – we’re thinking the ritz and glitz of The Great Gatsby or the magic of Harry Potter – with appropriate fancy dress specified on the Art Deco or Halloween-inspired invites.
Serve refreshments right off the page: orange juice and Gatsby cocktails (we’re thinking mint juleps and gin rickeys) – or virgin versions for those who just passed their GCSEs – in glittering crystal glasses or vintage teacups, Prohibition-style, with delicate hors d’oeuvres, spiced baked ham, salads, pigs-in-blankets and lemon cakes; or Potter punch from a cauldron with your own take on pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, chocolate frogs, jelly beans and any number of finger foods in homage to Harry. Don’t forget to label each one with a quote from the book!
Finally, decorate your venue in the style of one or more of the great scenes: a lamp with a green bulb, candelabra, fairy lights and white balloons for Gatsby or those same candelabra and fairy lights for Potter (see the films for more inspiration). Extra points to any Harry fans who drape their ceiling with material decked out to reflect the sky outside…
Science and Maths
Scientist? Serve your cocktails in beakers and conical flasks, decorate a Victoria sponge or plateful of macarons in the style of planets, cut out dinosaur biscuits or ice them in the style of atoms and cells and hang an oversized poster of the periodic table behind the snack table – or go all-out and style each treat as one of the elements!
For mathematicians, it’s got to be plenty of pie (ahem, Pi), treats decorated with Fibonacci spirals or examples from nature such as galaxies, roses and Nautilus shells, and a cake topped with number-shaped birthday candles. Bonus points if you can get your hands on some Romanesco broccoli – a natural example of fractal symmetry.
It’s all about the capital city of their chosen country for your linguistic party. Taking French as our example, we’re envisioning a chic Parisian black, white and pink colour scheme, cupcakes finished with delicate paper Eiffel Towers on cocktail sticks, local delicacies such as baguettes, cheese, patisserie and wine – all labelled in French, naturellement – fairy lights in homage to the City of Lights and elegant posters celebrating the Moulin Rouge, Les Misérables and French fashion and cinema.
Theatrical types will adore a murder mystery party, complete with costumes and your venue dressed as the set. Alternatively, let everyone have their moment in the limelight with karaoke, or broaden the entertainment with an open mic so performance poets and stand-up comedians can have their 15 minutes of fame.
For fine artists, consider a cake-decorating station, complete with plain biscuits or cakes, icing, stencils, edible glitter and other toppings so they can get creative. Style the venue with prints by myriad artists and hang a huge sheet of cardboard, either with an image on for everyone to colour a bit of or just a note inviting everyone to leave their own mark – just make sure the canvas is thick and they’re using water-based paint or felt-tips if you plan to leave it out as the drinks start flowing…
Whatever you’re baking or muddling for your party, do it with the help of our Home Baking Hamper, complete with recipes for cakes and cocktails and a few ingredients to start you off. We’ve also got a whole host of wine and spirits to deck out your drinks table…
Days Out – Browse our range of Summer Gifts – perfect for the picnic basket:
Check Waterstones and The List for nationwide book signings by their favourite authors, take a trip to the British Library for the Shakespeare in Ten Acts Exhibition or start planning a visit to next year’s Hay Festival, when writers and authors from around the globe converge on the Brecon Beacons National Park. Last year’s event hosted Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Michael Morpurgo, David Mitchell, Mark Haddon and even Tom Jones and Julian Clary.
Science and Maths
The Science Museum and Natural History Museum are the places to be in London, while the National Space Centre is your Leicester go-to. For the logically minded, look up your local Locked Room or Escape Room for around an hour of challenging fun: London is home to several, including Time Run, which stars scientist Luna Fox in a code-cracking, puzzle-solving adventure through time…
Catching a flight or hopping on the Eurostar to a country that speaks their chosen language is of course the number-one day (or weekend!) trip for bilingual types. If that’s not on the cards though, The Goethe Institut’s London branch keeps an online record of German cultural events around the UK, The Institut Français Royaume-Uni in London reopens at the end of August with a full programme of French cinema and the biggest French library in the UK, Manchester is hosting a Spanish Festival at the start of September and London will be home to a Spanish Film Festival at the end of September. None of these their language? Festivals and cultural institutes are a great way to find relevant events close to home.
Tickets to the local theatre or a day out in London’s Theatreland are the ideal celebration for thespians: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Pixie Lott, Bugsy Malone, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II are just a few of the shows playing in the capital this September.
Artists can take in their favourite local gallery, or make the journey to London to take in the Barbican, National Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Tate Britain and more. Among the most exciting exhibitions on in the city right now are Alex Katz: Quick Light at the Serpentine, Georgia O’Keeffe at the Tate Modern and Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings at the Courtauld Gallery.
Whether you’re making it a road trip or taking the train, be sure to bring along a few Lovely Little Things to make the journey extra-special. Travelling to the capital for your day out? Drop in to our cocoa cuisine restaurant, Rabot 1745, while you’re here for afternoon tea or dinner – a sophisticated stop on your visit!
Congratulations Gifts – Send them your best wished with our Cocoa inspired gifts:
No celebration would be complete without a bottle of bubbly! Our Prosecco Superiore DOCG is made with handpicked 100% Glera grapes at a boutique family vineyard in Italy, on the last range of hillsides between the Dolomites and the sea. Harmonious and elegant with notes of apple and peach, this tipple is top of the class.
If your straight-A student prefers their bubbles served in chocolate, our Classic Champagne Truffles or Pink Champagne Truffles are a sophisticated alternative to the traditional cork-popping option. Made with real French Champagne, they’re each a bite of luxurious hedonism – and the pink recipe is finished with a dash of summery strawberry.
Wordsmiths will appreciate the chic typography of our Congratulations Message Box – but the best bit of this effortless exam results gift is the selection of beloved recipes inside, from velvety-smooth pralines to tangy cheesecakes and magical milk chocolate truffles.
Have they really outdone themselves? Make sure they know how proud you are with the head-turning Chocolatier’s Table: epic and unadulterated, this showstopping collection makes a fantastic party centrepiece or an unforgettable gift – and they might even let you share!
Whether you’re looking for a token of your congratulations or a lavish gesture, we’ve got plenty more exam success gifts where those came from…