20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (2023)


Graduation Parties


Christine Gauvreau

Christine Gauvreau

Christine Gauvreau is an event planning expert with over 10 years of professional party planning experience. She co-founded an event planning business that specializes in kids' parties. She has written for The Spruce on topics related to children'sparties for almost five years.

Learn more about The Spruce'sEditorial Process

Updated on 06/21/22

All the graduates' names have been read and diplomas handed out. Now it's time to ditch the caps and gowns, cut loose, and enjoy a graduation party. A celebration is in order before they head out to conquer the world. Make it an awesome event with some of these great graduation party ideas with activities, games, decorations, and food.

  • 01 of 20

    Set Up a Photo Booth

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (1)

    A photo booth a perfect addition to the graduation party. Not only do the graduates have loads of fun posing with their friends, but you also get to document their silliness and save the images forever.

    You can build or rent an actual photo booth for your party (the kind where you go in, draw a curtain and say cheese) or create a photo-taking backdrop where they can gather and strike a pose. Either option is exciting, but the backdrop works better for big group photos. Whatever way you do it, remember to add plenty of props to keep the photo booth fun going all night.

  • 02 of 20

    Hashtag Your Bash

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (2)

    Anywhere you have young adults gathered together you’re also going to have images and posts about what they’re doing popping up on social media. A party is a perfect place for multiple posting opportunities, so give your graduation party a hashtag(#emmasgradbash, #gradpartyforus) for them to use when posting their updates. This way they can keep up on everything to do with the event and maybe even get their hashtag to trend.

    (Video) 20 Great Ideas For A Graduation Party 🛋️

  • 03 of 20

    Livestream It

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (3)

    Another fun idea inspired by social media is to broadcast a portion of the party via livestream. You don’t have to livestream the entire event but maybe plan ahead about a certain aspect that would be cool to feature. That might include all of the graduates doing a trendy dance, making speeches, or playing a goofy party game.

  • Make a Graduation Party Video

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (4)

    Not sure about pulling off the whole livestream thing? Another option is to film a graduation party video and post it to a video sharing site like YouTube. Remember to share it with the party's hashtag.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.

  • 05 of 20

    Have a Big Screen Slideshow

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (5)

    Once upon a time slideshows were boring presentations audiences suffered through at staff meetings or a neighbor’s gathering after a vacation. Not anymore. Slideshows have become fun ways to turn your photos into spectacular visuals complete with special effects, captions, and background music. Create a fun slideshow that stars the graduate and her classmates. Then project it on a big screen at your party.

  • 06 of 20

    Have a Picnic Party

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (6)

    Forget that boring old banquet hall with properly set tables and fancy linen napkins. Throw a graduation party that’s less formal and more fun. Host it outdoors and instead of tables, set out picnic blankets on the ground. On each blanket add a picnic basket filled with everything you need to feed the group that gathers there.

    For the entertainment, have them play traditional picnic party games such as potato sack and relay races, This way of cutting loose may be just what your guests need after sitting through a stuffy ceremony in their caps and gowns.

  • 07 of 20

    Add Chalkboard Walls

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (7)

    Turn your graduation party walls into chalkboards. Use chalkboard-faced, removable vinyl decals that can be arranged on walls to create varying sizes of chalkboards. Toss some chalk into the mix and watch your grads write messages, doodle and maybe even look back fondly on their days in the classroom.

    (Video) 25 DIY Graduation Party Ideas
  • 08 of 20

    Play Life-Sized Party Games

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (8)

    Spraypaint a giant Twister board on the lawn or create a human version of tic tac toe. Paint a checkerboard and give players red and black T-shirts to wear as they represent the pieces. Think about any party game you can turn life-sized, and it’s sure to be the hit of your graduation celebration.

    Another party game idea is to go back in time and have your grown party guests play games from their past, such as musical chairs, freeze dance, or the piñata game.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.

  • Create a Superlative Photo Wall

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (9)

    It’s always exciting to open the yearbook and find out who earned superlatives like "Best Dressed" and “Most Likely to Succeed.” Way more fun, though, is to be able to assign your own superlatives to your friends.

    Before the party, copy and enlarge your guests’ yearbook photos. Hang them on a wall and set up a nearby table with markers and blank tagline cards they can fill in and tape beneath the pics.

    You can also throw in some funny superlative suggestions, such as Best Selfie Taker, Most Likely to Become a Reality TV Star, orMost Likely to Sleep Through the First Day of College. With just a few of these prompts, guests are sure to come up with plenty of silly superlatives of their own.

  • 10 of 20

    Host a Floating Lantern Send Off

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (10)

    There’s something quite magical about floating lanterns. Perhaps it’s the fact that they look like fairies flying in the night sky, or are reminiscent of shooting stars. Whatever the reason, you can bring the same kind of enchantment to your graduation party with a nighttime release of floating lanterns.

    Add some sentiment by having each classmate say something special (favorite high school memory, a wish for the future, etc.,) before sending off the lanterns.

  • 11 of 20

    Make Balloon Messages

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (11)

    (Video) Graduation Party Ideas: DIYs, Decor and More For 2020

    Not every party will have the open space required for floating lanterns. However, the same sentimental activity can be done with balloons. Have the graduates write their wishes on the balloons with markers and then set them free.

  • 12 of 20

    Set up Travel Stations

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (12)

    For the graduate with a case of wanderlust, add a travel theme. Set up stations dedicated to possible travel locations. Decorate each station in a manner that reflects the culture of the region, and serve foods that are commonly eaten there.

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.

  • 13 of 20

    Feature a Map Wall

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (13)

    Tape a large map to one of the walls in your party room. Have all of the grads sign their names or pin pictures of themselves at the places on the map that they will next visit, where they will attend college, or where they wish to see someday.

  • 14 of 20

    Hang a Clothesline Photo Timeline

    The years went by too quickly, no doubt. That "first day of preschool" picture feels like it was taken just yesterday. Chances are you have photos from every first day of school that followed, too. To create a sentimental party decoration, print all of those first day images. Then, hang a clothesline in the party room and turn those memories into a hanging timeline of your graduate through the years.

  • 15 of 20

    Set up a Bar

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (15)

    Most high school grads may not be old enough to drink, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the party bar when it’s a taco bar, ice cream bar, latte bar, or something else that includes the fun of mixing non-alcoholic edible items.

  • 16 of 20

    (Video) DIY GRADUATION PARTY ON A $25, $50, $75 and $100 BUDGET| 2022 GRADUATION PARTY IDEAS

    Use the School Colors as the Party Theme

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (16)

    Decorate everything in the school colors. Invite guests to come dressed in them and even tailor your menu to feature foods that match the color scheme.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.

  • 17 of 20

    Throw a Tailgate Party

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (17)

    If your graduating senior was into sports or a member of the cheerleading squad, you could throw your graduation party in the style of a tailgate party. Have guests decorate their cars, pop their trunks and enjoy outdoor grilled or picnic foods as they hop from tailgate to tailgate.

  • 18 of 20

    Have a Yearbook Photos Puzzle Guestbook

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (18)

    Here’s a cool idea for a graduation party guestbook. Take the class picture and have it enlarged, and then paste it to a poster board. Draw puzzle-shaped lines on the back of the poster board, and cut out pieces along the lines. Have your grad’s classmates sign and write short notes on the backs of the puzzle pieces, and then put the puzzle together. The front side will show the completed photo, but when turned over, all of the messages will be there to read.

  • 19 of 20

    Play Guess the Baby Grad Matching Game

    20 Great Ideas for a Graduation Party (19)

    Before the party, ask the other graduating guests to send baby pictures of themselves. Copy their yearbook pics as well. Hang the graduating pics on a wall and scatter the baby pics around the room. Challenge party guests to find the baby photos and then hang them next to the yearbook photos they think are a match.

  • 20 of 20

    Decorate With a Dangling Photo Display

    Use helium-filled balloons to create a whimsical photo display. Gather a collection of pictures of the graduate and her friends. Then use ribbon and a hole punch to attach them to balloon strings. Let the balloons fly to the ceiling, leaving the photos dangling into the party space.


What are some graduation party ideas? ›

60 Graduation Party Ideas
  • Host in Your Backyard. ...
  • Feature a Custom Vinyl Record Guest Book. ...
  • Gather at the Beach. ...
  • Have a Sky Lantern Send Off. ...
  • Bring in a Food Truck. ...
  • Meet Up at a Park. ...
  • Play Movies on a Projector. ...
  • Rent Out Your Favorite Restaurant.
14 Jun 2022

What is a typical graduation party? ›

Typically a graduation party will have one guest of honor with a set timeframe of 2-4 hours and specific guest list. Your guests include immediate family, the graduate's friends, friends' parents, extended family, favorite teachers or coaches from over the years, coworkers of both the parents and the graduate.

Whats a good menu for a graduation party? ›

30 Best Graduation Party Foods
  • Hamburgers.
  • Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pinwheels.
  • Buffalo Wings.
  • Veggie Tray.
  • Pizza Rolls.
  • Fruit Kabobs.
  • Hormel Chili Dip.
  • Root Beer Float.
8 Jun 2022

How do you throw an inexpensive graduation party? ›


Join Forces – Share the expenses with another family or two. Go in with your graduate's close friends and throw a joint party. You'll share expenses and duties, making it easier on you. Make sure you are all on the same page with the budget so there's no overspending!

What is a good budget for a graduation party? ›

The average cost of a graduation party is close to $1000, with some parents spending well into the thousands. If you're like me, you have plenty of other things you want to spend that kind of money on! Read on the find great ways to save money on your graduation party – without looking cheap!

What color should my grad party be? ›

choose your theme, color palette, and decor. Most parents and grads choose the school colors of the high school or future college. If you are not interested in the high school/college theme, a black/white/gold palette is traditional and you will be able to find lots of decorations in that color palette.

How do I make my graduation less boring? ›

How To Fend Off Boredom During Your Grad Ceremony
  1. Play games with your seatmates. ...
  2. Mentally calculate how many years it'll take to pay off your student loans. ...
  3. Mentally rank all the movie and TV graduation scenes from best to worst. ...
  4. Map out your summer bucket list. ...
  5. Create a mental reel of your most meaningful school moments.
10 May 2015

What is the best time to host a graduation party? ›

Many people throw their parties the Saturday after graduation as that is the most convenient time and not too far from the graduation day. It is not so far from graduation that actual graduation is irrelevant, because after all, it is a grad party not just a regular party.

Do you give out favors at a graduation party? ›

But one thing you don't want to forget is the graduation party favors. Think of it as a way to send your guests off right when the party ends. It's a thoughtful gesture to thank them for coming to the party to celebrate the graduate. Plus, it's a fun memento that might make the party even more memorable.

Do you give anything at a graduation party? ›

While it's not required to bring a gift to a graduation party, etiquette recommends that all attendees bring a card and small gift. When deciding whether to bring a present, you should factor in how close you are to the graduate, how large the party will be, and how many parties you will be attending.

How much food do you give at a graduation party? ›

A good rule of thumb is to plan to spend about 60 percent of your party budget on food and drink; 25 percent on glasses, flatware, and necessary serving pieces; and 15 percent on the look and feel.

What desserts should you have at a graduation party? ›

30 Easy Graduation Party Dessert Collection
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  • Grad Cap Cookies.
  • Brownie Pops.
  • Cheesecake Brownie.
  • Mini Cheesecake Bites.
  • Cheesecake.
  • Funfetti Rice Krispie Pops.
  • Strawberries and Cream Mini Parfaits.
15 Jun 2022

How much do parents spend on graduation party? ›

Based on a party size of 60 people
StateTotal CostsPer Person Costs
47 more rows
25 Aug 2022

How do I plan an inexpensive party? ›

How to Throw a Birthday Party on a Budget
  1. Keep your guest list small. ...
  2. Make your own invitations. ...
  3. Use free printables to decorate. ...
  4. Pick a theme you already have decorations for. ...
  5. Have the party at your house. ...
  6. Don't party at meal time. ...
  7. Make or decorate your own cake. ...
  8. Use the dollar store for party supplies.
26 Aug 2021

What percentage of guests attend a graduation party? ›

On average, 60% of invited guests will show up at your event. And here's the best case scenario: If you invite your closest friends and family only, you can expect about 75% to show up. It's painful to think about, but true nonetheless.

What are the graduation colors for 2022? ›

2022 Purple/Gold Graduation Tassel - Every School Color Available -Made in USA.

Who should you invite to a graduation party? ›

Make sure you have included family and extended relatives too. Don't forget neighbors, teachers, coaches, co-workers (graduates and yours) and other friends of the family.

What should you not do in a graduation speech? ›

Do not keep on just talking about your achievements! As much as you might think this speech is about you, but it's about the whole class. So make them feel included.

What will you miss the most after graduating? ›

Things You'll Miss Immediately After Graduation
  • The gym access. ...
  • Only having to answer to yourself. ...
  • Holiday breaks. ...
  • Community. ...
  • Student discounts. ...
  • School sports and rivalries. ...
  • The availability of help or the people who helped you through decision-making processes. ...
  • Traditions. Ehhhhh, Sic'em Bears!

How many hours should a graduation party be? ›

A 4-hour time frame — whether afternoon or evening — allows for a nice flow of people coming and going, and hopefully means that you will be able to spend some real-time with each guest. Send an invite — either paper or online — with all of the details.

How far in advance should graduation party invitations be sent? ›

Graduation announcements with included invites should be sent at least two to three weeks before your graduation ceremony. This will give guests enough time to receive their invitations and RSVP early.

How many people do you need to plan for a graduation party? ›

Consider carefully as the more guests you add to your list, the higher your food, beverage and party venue costs may rise. A good rule of thumb is to keep your event under 75 guests per graduate.

How do you keep guests entertained at a graduation party? ›

Fun Graduation Party Games Your Guests Will Love
  1. Guess Who. Challenge your grads to see who knows each other best with this fun take on the classic guessing game. ...
  2. Grads Through the Years. ...
  3. Mad Libs. ...
  4. Pin the Tassel on the Grad Cap. ...
  5. Charades. ...
  6. Around the World Ring Toss. ...
  7. Giant Twister. ...
  8. Superlatives.
18 Aug 2020

How much money do you give someone at graduation? ›

Most agree that giving at least $50 is appropriate for college graduates. Depending on the relationship, you can give up to $500. Whatever amount you choose, it's important to give what you comfortably can. Rest assured: no matter the amount, graduates always appreciate cash.

What is a traditional gift for graduation? ›

Cash is always appreciated as a gift for certain grads. High school, college, and higher education graduates will appreciate a cash gift as it allows them to purchase much needed items for a dorm room or first home. Pair it with a personalized card for a heartfelt touch.

Which gift is best for graduation? ›

The 38 best graduation gift ideas in 2022:
  • A tablet for Netflix and surfing the web. ...
  • A commemorative map of their college town, hometown, or study abroad city. ...
  • Nice noise-canceling headphones. ...
  • A beautiful bouquet. ...
  • A sleek smart mug that keeps their drinks hot. ...
  • A luxe leather messenger bag. ...
  • School spirit gear.
13 May 2022

How much food do you need for 20 people? ›

The easiest rule is the “One Pound Rule.” Provide one pound of food for each adult guest (not including drinks or dessert).

What is the cheapest food to serve at a party? ›

Here are some simple party food ideas on a budget:
  • Soup.
  • Loose meat sandwiches.
  • Baked potatoes.
  • Pasta.
  • Tacos.
  • Make-your-own-pizzas.
  • Cheese and crackers.
  • Vegetables and dip.
6 Aug 2019

Do you have cake at graduation party? ›

Cake is the traditional dessert at a graduation celebration; everyone will be serving it. Think about a small cake with the graduate's picture and a message of congratulations to show as a centerpiece of sorts to your buffet.

What is the most extravagant dessert? ›

According to Guinness World Records, the Golden Opulence Sundae, served at Serendipity 3 — a restaurant in New York City — is the most expensive dessert in the world. It costs USD 1000 or INR 78,108 approximately. ALSO READ |Guinness alert: World's largest Scotch egg weighs…

Who should be invited to a high school graduation party? ›

Make sure you have included family and extended relatives too. Don't forget neighbors, teachers, coaches, co-workers (graduates and yours) and other friends of the family.

What is the difference between an open house and a graduation party? ›

A graduation open house is a party that you host during a block of time. During the open house guests can come and go as they please. This type of party helps ensure that people who have other commitments or graduation parties can still attend.

How far in advance do you send out graduation party invitations? ›

Graduation announcements with included invites should be sent at least two to three weeks before your graduation ceremony. This will give guests enough time to receive their invitations and RSVP early.

What should a graduation party invite say? ›

We cordially invite you to the graduation party in honor of our dear [name] on 2022. We are delighted to inform you that we have planned a graduation party for [name] on 2022. We invite you to join us at the party! Please join us on 2022 at the graduation party thrown in honor of [name] as he graduates on [subject].


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