Graduation Party Tips and Ideas

graduation quote michael dell
Whether she's graduating from middle school, high school, or college, your grad deserves a little pomp and circumstance. Throw a casual outdoor party to celebrate her accomplishments with these tips and ideas for success.

Host a Joint Graduation Party

Graduation is a momentous milestone—nearly everyone will be throwing a party. Guests might need to split time between multiple parties on a single day. Ask your grad to help you plan a joint event with close friends so partygoers will be able to stay and mingle instead of just dropping by for a few minutes.

Editor's Tip: This works well if you have two grads in the family at the same time, too.

Plan a Simple Outdoor Buffet

A simple buffet (with dishes prepared the night before) will satisfy hungry partygoers after a long graduation ceremony. Hosting an outdoor party can mean inviting more guests! Plus, it’s great to be outside in the late spring when the weather plays nice.

Keep Drinks Ice Cold

Sturdy metal buckets and window planters stand up to the task of keeping party drinks cold when filled with ice. Provide a variety of drink options for party guests, such as soda, water, and lemonade. 

Keep the Food Simple

Spend more time focusing on your grad's big day than fussing with the food! Graduation party food doesn't have to be complicated or homemade. Assemble a pretty cheese plate with fruit, nuts, and crackers, or serve up trays of fresh fruit and cut veggies—no cooking needed! 

Put Memories on Display

Share fond memories and celebrate your grad's achievements from kindergarten through graduation with a memory timeline. Attach important photos to construction paper and hang them from string or a clothesline using clothespins (if your party is indoors, attach to twine or ribbon and hang from a mantel or across a wall).

Decorate Your Front Walk

Let party guests know they have the right house by adding a sign to your front walkway. Cut out letters to spell "congrats" from blue paper and glue to paper plates. Attach wooden dowels to the backs of the plates and stick into the lawn for simple, low-cost graduation decor.

Set Out Grab-and-Go Party Snacks

Minimize dirty dishes and maximize guest mingling with grab-and-go party snacks. Our spicy cinnamon sugar snack mix fits perfectly in cones fashioned from sturdy, bright paper. 

Set Up a Gift Table

To keep the party organized, set up a single place for guests to drop off gifts for your grad. Encourage partygoers to sign a guest book so your grad knows who attended the party and—more importantly— who to write thank-you notes to.

Make Graduation-Theme Cupcakes

Graduation party guests will look forward to celebrating with these hat-topped cupcakes. Roll the edges of each frosted cupcake in nonpareils to make a colored rim, then finish the batch by adding hats and tassels made from chocolate-covered cherries, chocolate-covered crackers, small candies, and fruit leather.

Get Creative with Dessert

Sure the classic sheet cake is good, but a DIY snow cone station is delicious and memorable! Set out purchased or homemade syrups in fun bottles with a bucket of shaved ice. Let guests craft their own sweet dessert. 

Decorate with School Spirit

Show off your grad's school spirit or initials with homemade pennants crafted from felt. These festive DIY party decorations can be assembled ahead of time and make a sweet keepsake for the grad. Use them to decorate their dorm or room. 

Take Pictures!

After the ceremony and before the party, set up a time for your grad to take requisite pictures with immediate family and close relatives. During the party, ask a guest to handle the photography responsibilities, or hire a professional photographer.

Editor's Tip: To encourage impromptu pictures, scatter disposable cameras around the party.

Sweet Notes

Have party guests leave notes of good luck and best wishes for the grad. Set up a station with scraps of paper, ribbon, and pens. Have each guest write a note and roll up their sweet sentiment. After the party, have the grad open each. 

DIY Photo Booth

Capture fun memories and festive party moments with a DIY photo backdrop. Create a simple one by stringing cut squares of metallic paper on a plain wall. Have guests strike a pose and compile the pictures into a sweet gift for the grad. 

Words of Wisdom

Share meaningful words of wisdom and advice with the grad. Use inspirational quotes as part of your party decor. Simply print them on oversize paper and hang them around your party space. 

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