Tips for Planning a Graduation Party

Pick the date NOW

Keep in mind that no date is perfect. Summer is a tough time to plan any event. So, it is best to select a date that works well for the graduate and his or her family who will be helping on the day of. Invitations need to go out, party rentals need to be made, and reservations for a venue need to be secured, so create a budget now to work from.

Once the date has been set, make sure everyone gets the day off work, including the graduate. Place all the orders and deposits needed for party rentals or venue. Design a check-list and a date to accomplish each task.

The Invitations

A theme should be selected so invitations, linens, napkins, decorations, and etc. match. The guest of honor should play a key role in creating the guest list. However, parents need to add input to generate a more comprehensive list. Here is a basic list both graduate and parents should think about:

  • Teachers
  • High School Friends
  • Friends of Parents
  • Family, near and far
  • Coaches
  • Neighbors
  • Past Babysitters
  • Friends from the Old Neighborhood

While Facebook and other social media sites are an easy and fun way to promote the event, a printed invitation is still the best way to get the word out. More people will respond with a true RSVP via a mailed invitation than on Facebook. Also, statistics show that more people RSVP to a scheduled “Sit-Down Dinner” than just an “Open House.”

Invitations should be mailed three weeks before the party. “Save the Date” cards could be mailed earlier. And don’t forget the “Thank You” cards to send out after the event. Parents should mail all printed invitations – do not rely on the graduate to hand deliver them – get addresses now for anyone that should receive the invite.

The Theme

Many graduates may have a theme in mind while others will not have an idea at all. A theme adds class and uniformity to the event. It also adds cost. Think about the activities and sports the graduate involved him or herself in during high school. Also, consider his or her future plans, such as what university they may be headed to. Themes may come from several places; here is a list to give you ideas:

  • High School Logo, Colors, or Mascot
  • Baseball, Track, or Cheerleading Graphics
  • Future University Logo, Colors, or Mascot
  • Army or Coast Guard Logos if entering the Military

Standard images, such as diploma roll, confetti, graduation hat & tassel are easy examples for simple themes. Use baby pictures, as well as recent photos to display around the venue of the party.

The Party

A three hour window of time is ideal for most events. Graduates should meet & greet every guest and thank them for the card or gift. Only open gifts or cards if the guest requests. All other cards and gifts should be opened after the party ends.

Parents should consider making the party alcohol-free, especially if it is a day-time event. With many of the guests being underage, it just makes sense and it helps to keep the three hour window to just three hours. As a replacement, consider these fun and safe food items:

  • Popcorn Machine
  • Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
  • Cotton Candy Machines

The Gift

If you are going to a graduation party, a basic gift of twenty dollars is considered fine for one person. A fun way to offer that amount this year would be to write a check for $20.11 to represent the year of graduation. And don’t forget the card to put it in.

By Michael Dwyer

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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