How to Throw a Graduation Party

Three Methods:Planning a High School Graduation PartyHosting a College Graduation PartyPlanning Activities for Your Graduation Party

Graduating from high school or college is an important achievement. Whether you’re graduating or one of your family members is graduating, you want to plan a party that’s worthy of the occasion filled with friends, food, and fun.

Method 1
Planning a High School Graduation Party

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    Decide on a date and time.[1] Because many people may be planning graduation parties around the same time of year, the logistics of choosing a time for your party can be difficult.
    • Consider having your party a few weeks after graduation, as many people choose to take trips or go on vacation directly after graduation day.
    • Have your party during June or July, as many of your friends will start to leave in August and move into college campuses.
    • Plan to have your party on a weekend day between 12p.m. and 6p.m., as this is when most of your guests will be able to come.
    • When picking the date for your party, don’t forget to take into account large events of other family members you plan to invite. For example, if someone you know has a wedding in the summer, be sure to schedule your party during a different weekend.
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    Throw a combined party. This can be a great way to save money and create a fun, lively atmosphere. Ask a few of your good friends if they’d like to combine their graduation party with yours.
    • Combined parties work well for high school graduations, as all graduates have achieved the same goal and have graduated at the same time.
    • Keep in mind, however, that you may not be able to invite as many extended family members to a combined graduation party.
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    Choose a venue.[2] Think about the approximate number of people you’d like to invite to your party. You want to make sure that you have enough space to host all of your guests.
    • Many people choose to host graduation parties at their homes. You can have an indoor party or set up tables and chairs outside for a festive summer bash. This is the least expensive option, so take into account how much money you’re willing to spend on a party.
    • If you don’t want to have your party at someone’s house, consider public party venues like restaurants, hotels, country clubs, beaches, pools, campgrounds, or parks.[3]
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    Make a guest list and send invitations.[4] Include all the people who have shaped your high school experience. You want to invite your friends, some of your extended family, and teachers or coaches who you really appreciate.
    • Decide whether you want to send out paper invitations or invitations through email or Facebook.
    • You can also send some paper invitations to family, and use a Facebook event to invite your friends to your party. You can find many printable invitations online.
    • With a paper invitation, you can add a copy of your senior picture as a keepsake for family members.
    • If you do use a Facebook event, make sure that you set it to private so you don’t unintentionally invite too many people.
    • Include all the basic information for your party: when, where, and how to RSVP.
    • Make it clear in your invitation whether or not it’s okay for your guests to bring other people with them, as well.
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    Create a theme.[5] Having a theme in addition to graduation can help you create a cohesive menu and decorate the party. Though it’s traditional for graduation parties, don’t feel obligated to use your high school colors as the central theme. A few possible themes include:
    • “Tropical Hawaiian”: This is great for an outdoor party. You can light tiki torches, serve fruit punch, put grass skirts around tables, and play beach music.
    • “Last Chance to Be a Kid”: This is a great way to let loose, and let everyone have a bit of kid fun. Invite your guests to bring water guns, fill up water balloons, and have an outdoor water fight, followed by a barbeque.
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    Create a menu.[6] You want to make sure that you have plenty of food, and something for everyone. In addition to a main meal, serve a variety of finger foods and snacks throughout the party.
    • You can have the party catered, make your own food, or have a mix of homemade and catered foods.
    • Think of dishes you can make ahead of time like casseroles and cold salads.
    • Allow guests to assemble their foods. Choose dishes like tacos, spaghetti, chili, burgers and hotdogs, salads, or sandwiches that guests can make how they like them. Just have a table set up buffet-style.
    • Consider making or buying a cake that says congrats for the graduate. In addition to cake, you might want other desserts like an ice cream sundae bar, cookies, or bowls of candy.
    • To take the pressure off of cooking, think about making your graduation party a potluck party. Ask each guest to bring one dish with them. This can be fun, and it helps make the party less expensive for you.
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    Decorate your party.[7] Decorations for a high school graduation party don’t have to be extravagant to make the party a little bit more special. Start with a banner that says “Congrats Grads!”
    • Add balloons and streamers in your high school colors or in a color that matches the theme of your party.
    • Consider make a memory jar, and placing pencils and slips of paper beside it. Ask each of your guests to write down one memory they have with you from high school.
    • Add a bit of nostalgia. A high school graduation party is an ideal place to reminisce about past life events. Display pictures from throughout the years.
    • If you’re throwing a graduation party for multiple graduates, it can be fun to have a baby photo guessing game. Tack up photos of each graduate as a small child and have each guest try to decide who is who.

Method 2
Hosting a College Graduation Party

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    Choose a date and time. Before you begin to plan your graduation party, you’ll want to pick a date. Unlike a high school graduation party, most college graduates plan parties around the graduation weekend, as many people leave soon after.
    • Consider the time of your graduation. For example, if you have an afternoon or morning graduation ceremony, you may be able to have your graduation party on the night of your actual graduation. However, this may be more difficult if you have a late afternoon or evening graduation ceremony.
    • Know your close friends’ graduation times. In college, different schools and majors graduate on different days or at different times. If you want to invite your significant other or close friends to your party, make sure to plan around their graduations, as well as yours.
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    Choose a venue for your party.[8] College towns often get crowded and busy during graduation weekends. If you can have your graduation party at your house or apartment, this is often the best and least expensive venue option.
    • Other options for college graduation party venues include local bars, restaurants, or parks.
    • If you do plan to book a venue, make sure you do so well in advance, several months if possible. Many graduates will be competing for reservations during the same weekends.
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    Invite your friends and family.[9] College graduation is a special occasion, and you want to ensure that you are not leaving anyone out. Make sure to invite all of your family who are coming to the graduation ceremony.
    • Consider throwing your graduation party with some of your closest friends. That way, you can all celebrate with your families together.
    • Decide whether you want to use paper or electronic invitations. Because graduation ceremony invitations are often on paper, it can be simple to use electronic invitations for your graduation party.
    • If you do use electronic invitations, consider setting up an online way that your family and friends can send monetary graduation gifts to the graduate. Even though guests usually send money upon receiving a formal graduation ceremony invitation, this can be a nice way to reach out to more extended family. Crowd funding sites are a great way to do this. Simply include a link in your electronic invitations. This is only appropriate if you are throwing the party for a graduate other than yourself, as it may be perceived as rude to ask for money for yourself.[10]
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    Set the mood for your graduation party.[11] For college graduation parties, extravagant decorations or planned activities are not usually necessary. Just add a few things to make the occasion seem festive.
    • Consider including a board filled with photographs from the graduate’s college experience.
    • Hang balloons or streamers in the college’s colors.
    • Make a playlist for the party. Include fun, upbeat songs. Attach your music-playing device to speakers, and let it play throughout the party. Music adds festivity to your celebration without being obtrusive.
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    Serve party food and beverages.[12] A good party isn’t complete without plenty to eat and drink. Keep it simple, and serve snack foods and finger foods.
    • If you plan to have a meal, either have it catered or make it something guests can assemble, like a taco bar or grilled hotdogs and hamburgers.
    • Serve drinks, or tell guests that the party is BYOB.

Method 3
Planning Activities for Your Graduation Party

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    Set up a board games table. At a graduation party, you want to make sure you have plenty of different activities to entertain your guests.[13] Even if you are hosting an outdoor graduation party, having an indoor board games table can be a great way to give your guests an option to cool off inside.
    • Create a table where you can lay out all of your board games for people to choose from. Make sure you have plenty of chairs for guests to sit in.
    • Offer a variety of games. Choose some that can be played with as few as two people.
    • Board games are an easy activity to set up, and they will provide plenty of entertainment to your party guests without requiring you to facilitate.
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    Play interactive games.[14] These games, like charades, will be a little more lively. You can play games in pairs or teams.
    • Set up a large pad of paper have guests play Pictionary.[15] Come up with your own clues. These can be random, or you can relate them back to graduation.
    • If you are outdoors, you can play games like Twister and cornhole. [16]
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    Set up a DIY photo booth.[17] This is a great way to remember your high school graduation party. Guests will enjoy playing with props and taking silly pictures, and they’ll have a memento from the occasion.
    • Use a large piece of paper or a sheet as a backdrop against a wall. This can be plain or patterned.
    • Add a banner that has the name of the graduate’s school and the year.
    • Use poster board to create props like speech bubbles, giant mustaches, and hats for party guests to hold up as they snap photos together on their phones.
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    Give a graduation party toast.[18] This can be a great way to honor the graduate and celebrate their great accomplishment. The person who gives the speech or toast should be someone who knows the graduate well, either a family member or good friend.
    • Make sure to speak to the specific strengths and accomplishments of the graduate, and wish them luck in the future.
    • Use quotes to make your speak more elegant.
    • Toast with champagne or sparkling juice.


  • If you’re party guests give you graduation gifts, make sure to write them all thank you notes.
  • You can usually find inexpensive graduation decorations at dollar stores or discount warehouses.


  • If you’re serving alcohol at your party, make sure that neither you nor your guests drink and drive.
  • If you’re planning an outdoor graduation party, make sure to have a back-up plan, in case it rains.

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