Graduation parties — much like the grads they celebrate — come in all varieties. From small family get-togethers to full-blown bashes with the entire graduating class, there are plenty of ways to plan the celebration. The first step is asking the guest of honor the type of party they have in mind. This will give you a general framework for planning the rest of the details.
From there, it’s time to start gathering names for the guest list and ideas for games, activities, the guest book, and food and drinks. Not sure what to do at a graduation party? No worries! We’ve got you covered with plenty of fun ways to celebrate the recent grad in your life no matter what kind of party you’re throwing. Keep reading to explore our favorite picks!
Much like the childhood favorite Mad Libs, this game is all about filling in the blanks to tell a silly story — but all in the theme of graduation. It’s a really fun way to break the ice as the party starts and get everyone laughing together. Order a set of pre-made printables to pass out to everyone when you’re ready to start playing. You can even consider awarding a prize to whoever’s story makes the guest of honor laugh the hardest.
Let’s be honest — today’s teens can sometimes seem like they’re speaking a foreign language with all the acronyms and slang terms out there. Put your guest’s Generation Z knowledge to the test with this trivia challenge. Feel free to come up with your own list of questions, or order the ready-to-play game off of Amazon.
Some people say that your family knows you better than anyone — but then there are your true best friends who think they know the “real” you. This game will determine once and for all who truly knows the graduate best. Just like “Are you smarter than a high school graduate?” this game can be created completely from scratch, or ordered off Amazon.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like a good game of Bingo, and this graduation-themed version should be no exception. Complete with 18 game cards, this set includes bingo markers, caller chips, and instructions. You can also go rogue and play a slightly different version, where instead of having a designated caller, tell guests to mark a spot whenever they hear someone say one of the words on the sheet. The first one with a bingo wins!
The last thing you want to be doing while celebrating is keeping an eye on everyone’s drinks and topping them off. That’s why I love the idea of mixing big-batch drinks before the party, then setting your beverage dispensers up in a central location for everyone to serve themselves. You can do anything from fresh lemonade to iced tea (have fun with the blends!), and even sangria for the 21+ guests. Or, get into school spirit and pick 2-3 drinks in the grad’s school colors!
Ice Cream Truck/Food Truck
If you’re considering a caterer, why not make it a little more exciting by hiring a food truck for the day? Not only is a food truck a great excuse to keep out of the kitchen, but it’s always a fun treat that everyone seems to love. Search for local food trucks in your area and find out if they’re available for your party — it’ll be truly unforgettable! As an alternative, you could skip the catered meal and hire an ice cream truck for a throwback dessert course. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
While a cake is always an acceptable party dessert, there’s always the issue of slicing and serving and accommodating everyone’s request for the right size or the right piece. Skip that hassle and make cupcakes with tassels! Whether you make them from scratch or buy them from the store, the most important thing is the graduation caps you top them with! Grab a bundle from Amazon and add them to all the sweet treats you set out for the party.
The key to effortless party hosting is providing self-serve foods so guests can graze as they get hungry. Leave out items like pinwheel sandwich wraps, a veggie platter with green goddess dressing, a mac and cheese bar, and mini quiches made four ways. Don’t forget the party plates and silverware — go with the disposable stuff to keep your job as easy as possible.
Graduation is a big deal for everyone, but especially so for the actual graduate. Show them how much they’re celebrated by hanging their photos throughout the space. You can use printing services from Artifact Uprising and string up the photos using photo clips from Amazon. Check out our guestbook ideas to find more ways to incorporate grad photos at your graduation party!
Everyone loves a photo booth and the opportunity to snap pictures, so make sure to set the tone with a fun photo backdrop for guests to make memories. You can go all-out with a custom step-and-repeat with the grad’s name to make everyone feel like a VIP, or set up a shimmering fringe curtain complete with balloons and fun props. Encourage guests to share their photos with a custom hashtag so you can compile them all in one spot once the party’s over.
Outside of the photo booth props, there are so many fun ways to incorporate your guest of honor’s graduation year into the party decor. Get custom banners from VistaPrint to hang around the space, grab celebratory cups and napkins, or get creative and build cardboard cutouts and fill them with balloons in the colors of the grad’s school. Here’s a tutorial to help get it done.
While you should never outright expect gifts at a graduation party, there’s a good chance all or most guests will show up with a card at the very least. Make it easy for them to find a place to drop their gifts and well wishes for the grad — you can set up a table with ample surface space and a box for dropping cards near the party entrance. Decorate the table with a celebratory tablecloth, put up a sign so guests know where to place their items, and include blank cards for guests to write their addresses so the grad can easily send their thank yous.
Going for a nontraditional guest book? Leave out pens and fill-in cards for guests to write down their well-wishes for the grad, then ask them to hang their note on a tree for all to see. When the party’s over, your graduate will have plenty of sweet messages to read through and look back on whenever they need a pick-me-up.
For a more classic version of a guest book, collect all the grad’s school photos taken over the years to populate the pages of a custom printed book from Artifact Uprising. Set it out with a good signing pen and have guests leave messages for the grad to take along with them wherever life leads them.
Whether you set up the station in front of your photo backdrop or encourage guests to get creative, this is a great idea for a totally original graduation party guest book. Grab a few Polaroid cameras and rolls of film and leave them out for guests to take photos of themselves to paste into a blank book, then add a personal message of well wishes.
Jenga is one of those games that seemingly never gets old — and the wooden pieces are perfect for writing fun messages, tips, or motivational quotes. Similar to the idea of leaving out photos of the graduate for guests to sign, this activity just requires you to leave out game pieces and a permanent marker on a central surface. Place a collection bin for guests to leave their used pieces and then box up the game for the guest of honor to take on their next adventure.
Everyone has been young at some point, and as we grow, we learn valuable lessons along the way. Give your grad a leg up and let guests leave their own tips and well-wishes to help them through the next few years of life. You can grab a set of prompted cards or leave them blank — even the most obvious of tips will be brand new to most graduates, so encourage guests to impart whatever wisdom comes to mind.
This is a really fun idea, especially for grads heading to school out of state who have a long drive ahead of them. For this one, you’ll need to leave out a computer or tablet with the Spotify app opened up to a new blank playlist. Have guests add songs that remind them of the guest of honor, that are from the grad’s birth year, or any songs that send an inspiring message. Once the party’s over, they’ll have a whole playlist of songs to remind them of all their loved ones.
If you’re hosting a graduation party for a full class of graduates, this is a great activity to involve all the guests of honor. Before the party, ask all class members to send over a recent photo of themselves, then print them all out and hang them on poster boards or construction paper around the party venue. Staple a piece of yarn to the photo mount and tie a pen to the other end for guests to add the superlative they think each graduate would win. At the end of the party, have everyone read out their answers!
Throwing an unforgettable graduation party
There you have it — in just a few steps, you’ll be on your way to throwing an unforgettable graduation party that everyone will enjoy. For even more helpful tips for celebrating a recent graduate, check out our step-by-step blog, as well as unforgettable themes your grad will love. Happy celebrating!