Rookie mistakes.

After surviving our first graduation party, my wife and I are reviewing what we could have done differently.

Of course, you have to start with the food.

I could recoup some of the expenses from my daughter's graduation party by selling sandwiches, chips, pop and cake on my front lawn.

As with many of the parents I spoke with after graduation weekend, no one is going to have to cook a meal for weeks.

Because we were using our best estimation on how much food to order and prepare, a lot of family members went home with parting gifts of sandwiches and all the trimmings.

I cannot say it is a bad thing to have all this food left. With school out, it might just be enough to keep my son and his friends fed for a few days.

During the party, I didn't notice how the food supply was lasting. Everyone seemed to be eating and drinking when not hanging out at the chocolate fountain, the most popular spot during the party.

In two years, we could just have a chocolate fountain and the party would be a hit.

I figured the food was disappearing until the party ended and my wife loaded up family members with an endless supply of sandwiches.

My wife and I are trying to convince ourselves we'll know better in two years when our son graduates high school.

My money is on us forgetting and ordering too much food again.

Before there was a party, there was planning and cleaning and getting everything in place.

The house hadn't been that clean since before we moved in, and the worse part is we had to try and live in it for days without messing it up.

I tried to convince my wife no one was coming to inspect the house, but that fell on deaf ears.

As it turned out, no one commented on how clean the house was. They just came to enjoy the graduation party. Go figure.

But with all the time it took to decorate, it took so little time to tear everything down and throw stuff away or put stuff away or return stuff.

All the energy and effort that went into trying to make everything just right, and in a few minutes decorations were in the trash or being put away or packed in the car to be returned.

It all seemed so anticlimactic.

But, like everything we plan for and fret about, it turned out great.

The work you put into making something special pays off, but all the worry seems pointless when the most important thing is people coming together for a special occasion.

No matter how much food we had left or how many times the chocolate fountain had to be refilled, it was a great day.

The graduation ceremony the next day topped off a great weekend, and it was nice not to have to worry about anything afterward.

We attended a couple parties, and I'm sure those hosts shared the same experiences we did, and everything was fine.

Now we can relax for a couple years before going through the whole thing again.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.